Writing Notes, Fall 2012

Page of various  Notes from the Writer’s Almanac. 

“I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.”

—Michael Cunningham

Autry wrote the Ten Cowboy Commandments, in which he advised young listeners that a cowboy must “be gentle with children, the elderly, and animals,” “help people in distress,” and “never shoot first, hit a smaller man, or take unfair advantage.

“”I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.” Bob Dylan

Declan Kibard He writes in his book — which is subtitled The Art of Everyday Living —that Joyce insisted “on the use-value of art.” And he writes that Ulysses is very much a useful book, a book

“with much to teach us about the world — advice on how to cope with grief; how to be frank about death in the age of its denial; how women have their own sexual desires and so also do men; how to walk and think at the same time; … how to tell a joke and how not to tell a joke; how to purge sexual relations of all notions of ownership; or how the way a person approaches food can explain who they really are.”

“Writers end up writing stories–or rather, stories’ shadows–and they’re grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough”

—Joy Williams

Heard this quote today on the writers almanac, I’m going to use it as part of the introduction to my next collection: From The Things They Carried:

“A true war story is never moral. It does not instruct, nor encourage virtue, nor suggest models of proper human behavior, nor restrain men from doing the things men have always done. If a story seems moral, do not believe it. If at the end of a war story you feel uplifted, or if you feel that some small bit of rectitude has been salvaged from the larger waste, then you have been made the victim of a very old and terrible lie. There is no rectitude whatsoever. There is no virtue. As a first rule of thumb, therefore, you can tell a true war story by its absolute and uncompromising allegiance to obscenity and evil.” Tim O’Brien

Night (1958). Wiesel said: “There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred that is a result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don’t see them.

” Though it initially sold just a few thousand copies, Night has since been translated into 30 languages and has sold roughly 10 million copies worldwide.

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