Writing—It’s Like This. . .

Writing_Quote_352I spent part of the Memorial Day weekend reading quotes about writing. Have you noticed how often authors use figurative language when describing their writing process? Here are a some of my favorites.

Writing is like . . .

DRIVING IN THE FOG

“Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” E L Doctorow

WALLPAPERING

“[Writing] is like when you do wallpapering, you remember where all the little bits are that don’t meet. And then your friends say: It’s terrific!” Harrison Birtwistle

A WINDOWPANE

“Good writing is like a windowpane.” George Orwell

A CONTACT SPORT

“Writing is like a contact sport, like football. You can get hurt, but you enjoy it.” Irwin Shaw

MAKING A TABLE

“Writing is like making a table. With both you are working with reality, a material just as hard as wood. Both are full of tricks and techniques. Basically very little magic and a lot of hard work are involved. . . . What is a privilege, however, is to do a job to your satisfaction.” Gabriel Garcia Marquez

EXPLORING

“Writing is like exploring. . . . As an explorer makes maps of the country he has explored, so a writer’s works are maps of the country he has explored.” Lawrence Osgood

GIVING AWAY LOAVES AND FISHES

“Writing is like giving away the few loaves and fishes one has, trusting that they will multiply in the giving. Once we dare to “give away” on paper the few thoughts that come to us, we start discovering how much is hidden underneath these thoughts and gradually come in touch with our own riches.” Henri Nouwen

OPENING A CLOSET

“Writing is like opening the closet you haven’t cleared out in years. You are looking for the ice skates but find the Halloween costumes. Don’t start trying on all the costumes right now. You need the ice skates. So find the ice skates. You can go back later and try on all the Halloween costumes.” Michele Weldon

POUNDING A BRICK WALL

“Sometimes writing is like pounding a brick wall with a ball-peen hammer in the hope that the barricade will evolve into a revolving door.” Chuck Klosterman

DESCENDING INTO A MINE

“Writing is to descend like a miner to the depths of the mine with a lamp on your forehead, a light whose dubious brightness falsifies everything, whose wick is in permanent danger of explosion, whose blinking illumination in the coal dust exhausts and corrodes your eyes.” Blaise Cendrars

TRYING TO SMOOTH RIPPLES FROM WATER

“Writing is like trying to smooth ripples from water with one’s hand–the more I try, the more disturbed things get.” Kij Johnson

RIDING A HORSE

“Writing is like trying to ride a horse which is constantly changing beneath you, Proteus changing while you hang on to him. You have to hang on for dear life, but not hang on so hard that he can’t change and finally tell you the truth.” Peter Elbow

HUNTING

“Writing is like hunting. There are brutally cold afternoons with nothing in sight, only the wind and your breaking heart. Then the moment when you bag something big. The entire process is beyond intoxicating.” Kate Braverman

RENEWING A DRIED WELL

“Writing is like renewing a dried well: at the bottom, mud, muck, dead birds. You clean it out well and leave room for water to spring up again and ascend almost up to the brim so clean that even the children look at their reflections in it.” Luz Pichel

SURFING

“Writing a book is a bit like surfing. . . . Most of the time you’re waiting. And it’s quite pleasant, sitting in the water waiting. But you are expecting that the result of a storm over the horizon, in another time zone, usually, days old, will radiate out in the form of waves. And eventually, when they show up, you turn around and ride that energy to the shore. It’s a lovely thing, feeling that momentum. If you’re lucky, it’s also about grace. As a writer, you roll up to the desk every day, and then you sit there, waiting, in the hope that something will come over the horizon. And then you turn around and ride it, in the form of a story.” Tim Winton

 

What is writing like for you?

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2 Comments

Filed under Fun, Inspiration, Uncategorized, Writing Process

2 responses to “Writing—It’s Like This. . .

  1. The most recent writing quote that hit home for me went something like this, “Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” Not sure if I got it exactly right, and cannot remember who said it, but it sure does sum up my thoughts lately. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing all of these, Jean!

  2. I like the one about giving the loaves and the fishes. I also like Karen’s quote above. Never thought I’d enjoy homework so much!

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