Saturday, March 19, 2011

What Is Writing?

According to one of my favorite authors, Robert Heinlein (Starship Troopers, Podkayne of Mars, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Cat who Walks Through Walls), writing is the following: 
"Writing is a legal way of avoiding work without actually stealing and one that doesn't take any talent or training. 
"But writing is antisocial. It's as solitary as masturbation. Disturb a writer when he is in the throes of creation and he is likely to turn and bite right to the bone . . . and not even know that he's doing it. As writers' wives and husbands often learn to their horror.
"And--attend me carefully, Gwen!--there is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized. Or even cured. In a household with more than one person, of which one is a writer, the only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private, and where food can be poked in to him with a stick. Because, if you disturb the patient at such times, he may break into tears or become violent. Or he may not hear you at all . . . and, if you shake him at this stage, he bites." -Richard Ames, of Robert Heinlein's The Cat who Walks Through Walls.
Heh. Heh. Um.

How about a few more?
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." -Ernest Hemingway
"Every writer I know has trouble writing." -Joseph Heller
 "Good writing is like a windowpane." -George Orwell
"Writing is not necessarily something to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwards." -Heinlein

The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.  -Mark Twain

 Do not put statements in the negative form.
And don't start sentences with a conjunction.
If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a
great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
Unqualified superlatives are the worst of all.
De-accession euphemisms.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Last, but not least, avoid cliches like the plague.
-William Safire, "Great Rules of Writing"
Wise. There are more:
"The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean." -Robert Louis Stevenson

"If there is a special Hell for writers it would be in the forced contemplation of their own works." -John Dos Passos
"The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector." -Ernest Hemingway

"Words are the most powerful drug used by mankind." -Rudyard Kipling

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