Sean Lindsay - my quote collection

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Writers, you know, are the beggars of Western society.

Most authors steal their works, or buy.
True ease in writing comes from art, not chance, as those move easiest who have learned to dance. 'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence. The sound must seem an echo to the sense.
Nothing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market.
What no wife of a writer can ever understand is that a writer is working when he's staring out of the window.
To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.
Fundamentally, all writing is about the same thing; it's about dying, about the brief flicker of time we have here, and the frustration that it creates.
A writer writes not because he is educated but because he is driven by the need to communicate. Behind the need to communicate is the need to share. Behind the need to share is the need to be understood. The writer wants to be understood much more than he wants to be respected or praised or even loved. And that perhaps, is what makes him different from others.
Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.
The only reason for being a professional writer is that you can't help it.
If you're going to write, don't pretend to write down. It's going to be the best you can do, and it's the fact that it's the best you can do that kills you.
He is a man of thirty-five, but looks fifty. He is bald, has varicose veins and wears spectacles, or would wear them if his only pair were not chronically lost. If things are normal with him, he will be suffering from malnutrition, but if he has recently had a lucky streak, he will be suffering from a hangover. At present it is half past eleven in the morning, and according to his schedule he should have started work two hours ago; but even if he had made any serious effort to start he would have been frustrated by the almost continuous ringing of the telephone bell, the yells of the baby, the rattle of an electric drill out in the street, and the heavy boots of his creditors clumping up the stairs. The most recent interruption was the arrival of the second post, which brought him two circulars and an income tax demand printed in red. Needless to say this person is a writer.
Writing is the hardest way of earning a living, with the possible exception of wrestling alligators.
Let those who would write heroic poems make their life an heroic poem.
I always write a good first line, but I have trouble in writing the others.
Like stones, words are laborious and unforgiving, and the fitting of them together, like the fitting of stones, demands great patience and strength of purpose and particular skill.
The shelf life of the modern hardback writer is somewhere between the milk and the yogurt.
Style and Structure are the essence of a book; great ideas are hogwash.
The only way out is the way through, just as you cannot escape from death except by dying. Being unable to write, you must examine in writing this being unable, which becomes for the present -- henceforth? -- the subject to which you are condemned.
Of all that is written, I love only what a person has written with his own blood.
A writer is a person who has solutions for which there are no riddles.
All writers are vain, selfish and lazy, and at the very bottom of their motives lies a mystery. Writing a book is a long, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.
For a creative writer possession of the truth is less important than emotional sincerity.
Whores and writers, Mahound. We are the people you can't forgive.
Hard writing makes easy reading. Easy writing makes hard reading.
Some American writers who have known each other for years have never met in the daytime or when both were sober.
Write without pay until somebody offers to pay you. If nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.
Writing is simple. First you have to make sure you have plenty of paper... sharp pencils... typewriter ribbon. Then put your belly up to your desk... roll a sheet of paper into the typewriter... and stare at it until beads of blood appear on your forehead.
Most bad books get that way because their authors are engaged in trying to justify themselves. If a vain author is an alcoholic, then the most sympathetically portrayed character in his book will be an alcoholic. This sort of thing is very boring for outsiders.
You can never correct your work well until you have forgotten it.
I love being a writer, what I can't stand is the paperwork.
Once in seven years I burn all my sermons; for it is a shame if I cannot write better sermons now than I did seven years ago.
From the point of view of literature Mr. Kipling is a genius who drops his aspirates. From the point of view of life, he is a reporter who knows vulgarity better than any one has ever known it.
We are nauseated by the sight of trivial personalities decomposing in the eternity of print.
Clutter is the disease of American writing. We are a society strangling in unnecessary words, circular constructions, pompous frills and meaningless jargon.
How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.
Let's face it, writing is hell.
I am paid by the word, so I always write the shortest words possible.
It is excellent discipline for an author to feel that he must say all that he has to say in the fewest possible words, or his reader is sure to skip them.
The trade of authorship is a violent, and indestructible obsession.
Easy writings curse is hard reading.
You must not suppose, because I am a man of letters, that I never tried to earn an honest living.
Writing is not a profession, but a vocation of unhappiness.
The writer does the most good who gives his reader the most knowledge and takes from him the least time.
The writer is either a practicing recluse or a delinquent, guilt-ridden one; or both. Usually both.
Writers are a little below the clowns and a little above the trained seals.
The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business.
What an occupation! To sit and flay your fellow men and then offer their skins for sale and expect them to buy them.
Justice to my readers compels me to admit that I write because I have nothing to do; justice to myself induces me to add that I will cease to write the moment I have nothing to say.
To write what is worth publishing, to find honest people to publish it, and get sensible people to read it, are the three great difficulties in being an author.
The writer who loses his self-doubt, who gives way as he grows old to a sudden euphoria, to prolixity, should stop writing immediately: the time has come for him to lay aside his pen.
Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.
Any man who can write a page of living prose adds something to our life, and the man who can, as I can, is surely the last to resent someone who can do it even better. An artist cannot deny art, nor would he want to. A lover cannot deny love.
Writing is a dreadful labor, yet not so dreadful as Idleness.
I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.
If I don't write to empty my mind, I go mad. As to that regular, uninterrupted love of writing. I do not understand it. I feel it as a torture, which I must get rid of, but never as a pleasure. On the contrary, I think composition a great pain.
The more books we read, the clearer it becomes that the true function of a writer is to produce a masterpiece and that no other task is of any consequence.
If you describe things as better than they are, you are considered to be a romantic; if you describe things as worse than they are, you will be called a realist; and if you describe things exactly as they are, you will be thought of as a satirist.
There are hardly half a dozen writers in England today who have not sold out to the enemy. Even when their good work has been a success, Mammon grips them and whispers: More money for more work.
I have the conviction that excessive literary production is a social offence.
Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.
Writers are always selling somebody out.
Writing isn't hard. It isn't any harder than ditch-digging.
The secret of good writing is to say an old thing in a new way or to say a new thing in an old way.
Writing is conscience, scruple, and the farming of our ancestors.
What has a writer to be bombastic about? Whatever good a man may write is the consequence of accident, luck, or surprise, and nobody is more surprised than an honest writer when he makes a good phrase or says something truthful.
To write is a humiliation.
To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.
The trouble began with Forster. After him it was considered ungentlemanly to write more than five or six novels.
Any writer, I suppose, feels that the world into which he was born is nothing less than a conspiracy against the cultivation of his talent.
Writers like teeth are divided into incisors and grinders.
No poet or novelist wishes he were the only one who ever lived, but most of them wish they were the only one alive, and quite a number fondly believe their wish has been granted.
Some writers confuse authenticity, which they ought always to aim at, with originality, which they should never bother about.
It is rarely that you see an American writer who is not hopelessly sane.
Every writer hopes or boldly assumes that his life is in some sense exemplary, that the particular will turn out to be universal.
Writers must fortify themselves with pride and egotism as best they can. The process is analogous to using sandbags and loose timbers to protect a house against flood. Writers are vulnerable creatures like anyone else. For what do they have in reality? Not sandbags, not timbers. Just a flimsy reputation and a name.
Nothing so fretful, so despicable as a Scribbler, see what I am, and what a parcel of Scoundrels I have brought about my ears, and what language I have been obliged to treat them with to deal with them in their own way; -- all this comes of Authorship.
The free-lance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.
The biggest obstacle to professional writing is the necessity for changing a typewriter ribbon.
Writing is more than anything a compulsion, like some people wash their hands thirty times a day for fear of awful consequences if they do not. It pays a whole lot better than this type of compulsion, but it is no more heroic.
Making a book is a craft, like making a clock; it needs more than native wit to be an author.
The aim, if reached or not, makes great the life: try to be Shakespeare, leave the rest to fate!
Every writing career starts as a personal quest for sainthood, for self-betterment. Sooner or later, and as a rule quite soon, a man discovers that his pen accomplishes a lot more than his soul.
A book should be luminous not voluminous.
Like all writers, he measured the achievements of others by what they had accomplished, asking of them that they measure him by what he envisaged or planned.
He who cannot limit himself will never know how to write.
There is something about the literary life that repels me, all this desperate building of castles on cobwebs, the long-drawn acrimonious struggle to make something important which we all know will be gone forever in a few years, the miasma of failure which is to me almost as offensive as the cheap gaudiness of popular success.
The writer has a grudge against society, which he documents with accounts of unsatisfying sex, unrealized ambition, unmitigated loneliness, and a sense of local and global distress. The square, overpopulation, the bourgeois, the bomb and the cocktail party are variously identified as sources of the grudge. There follows a little obscenity here, a dash of philosophy there, considerable whining overall, and a modern satirical novel is born.
Writing a novel without being asked seems a bit like having a baby when you have nowhere to live.
The cure for writers cramp is writer's block.
It requires more than mere genius to be an author.
A writer is someone who can make a riddle out of an answer.
This is something that I cannot get over -- that a whole line could be written by half a man, that a work could be built on the quicksand of a character.
No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.
The greatest part of a writer's time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.
I know not, Madam, that you have a right, upon moral principles, to make your readers suffer so much.
Let your literary compositions be kept from the public eye for nine years.
The only phenomenon with which writing has always been concomitant is the creation of cities and empires, that is the integration of large numbers of individuals into a political system, and their grading into castes or classes. It seems to have favored the exploitation of human beings rather than their enlightenment.
Nowadays three witty turns of phrase and a lie make a writer.
I am always interested in why young people become writers, and from talking with many I have concluded that most do not want to be writers working eight and ten hours a day and accomplishing little; they want to have been writers, garnering the rewards of having completed a best-seller. They aspire to the rewards of writing but not to the travail.
You enter a state of controlled passivity, you relax your grip and accept that even if your declared intention is to justify the ways of God to man, you might end up interesting your readers rather more in Satan.
The need to express oneself in writing springs from a mal-adjustment to life, or from an inner conflict which the adolescent (or the grown man) cannot resolve in action. Those to whom action comes as easily as breathing rarely feel the need to break loose from the real, to rise above, and describe it... I do not mean that it is enough to be maladjusted to become a great writer, but writing is, for some, a method of resolving a conflict, provided they have the necessary talent.
There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately no one knows what they are.
It's very hard to be a gentleman and a writer.
Practically everybody in New York has half a mind to write a book, and does.
I never think when I write. Nobody can do two things at the same time and do them well.
Ultimately, literature is nothing but carpentry. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood.
Manuscript: something submitted in haste and returned at leisure.
There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
The best way to become a successful writer is to read good writing, remember it, and then forget where you remember it from.
Only amateurs say that they write for their own amusement. Writing is not an amusing occupation. It is a combination of ditch-digging, mountain-climbing, treadmill and childbirth. Writing may be interesting, absorbing, exhilarating, racking, relieving. But amusing? Never!
My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky.
The writer's only responsibility is to his art. He will be completely ruthless if he is a good one. He has a dream. Everything goes by the board: honor, pride, decency, security, happiness, all, to get the book written. If a writer has to rob his mother, he will not hesitate; the Ode on a Grecian Urn is worth any number of old ladies.
If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoevski, all of us.
The first thing an unpublished author should remember is that no one asked him to write in the first place. With this firmly in mind, he has no right to become discouraged just because other people are being published.
There are two kinds of writers; the great ones who can give you truths, and the lessor ones, who can only give you themselves.
A pathological business, writing, don't you think? Just look what a writer actually does: all that unnatural tense squatting and hunching, all those rituals: pathological!
Writing is easy. All you do is stare at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.
We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.
Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
They're fancy talkers about themselves, writers. If I had to give young writers advice, I would say don't listen to writers talking about writing or themselves.
The characteristic of Chaucer is intensity: of Spencer, remoteness: of Milton elevation and of Shakespeare everything.
He who does not expect a million readers should not write a line.
Analogies, it is true, decide nothing, but they can make one feel more at home.
A man writes to throw off the poison which he has accumulated because of his false way of life. He is trying to recapture his innocence, yet all he succeeds in doing (by writing) is to inoculate the world with a virus of his disillusionment. No man would set a word down on paper if he had the courage to live out what he believed in.

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