Happy Birthday, John McPhee, born 8 March 1931
- Young writers find out what kinds of writers they are by experiment. If they choose from the outset to practice exclusively a form of writing because it is praised in the classroom or otherwise carries appealing prestige, they are vastly increasing the risk inherent in taking up writing in the first place.
- I always read the second draft aloud, as a way of moving forward.
- Stories are always really, really hard. I think it’s totally rational for a writer, no matter how much experience he has, to go right down in confidence to almost zero when you sit down to start something. Why not? Your last piece is never going to write your next one for you.
- If your structure really makes sense, you can make some jumps and your reader is going to go right with you. You don’t need to build all these bridges and ropes between the two parts.
- The thing about writers is that, with very few exceptions, they grow slowly—very slowly.
- With non-fiction, you’ve got your material, and what you’re trying to do is tell it as a story in a way that doesn’t violate fact, but at the same time is structured and presented in a way that makes it interesting to read.
- The routine produces. But each day, nevertheless, when you try to get started you have to transmogrify, transpose yourself; you have to go through some kind of change from being a normal human being, into becoming some kind of slave.
McPhee is an American writer of creative non-fiction. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Annals of the Former World.
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