Literary Birthday - 25 May - Raymond Carver

Raymond Carver was born 25 May 1938, and died 2 August 1988

Raymond Carver: 10 Remarkable Writing Quotes

  1. It’s possible, in a poem or short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman’s earring—with immense, even startling power.
  2. I write the first draft quickly. This is most often done in longhand. I simply fill up the pages as rapidly as I can. …With the first draft it’s a question of getting down the outline, the scaffolding of the story. Then on subsequent revisions I’ll see to the rest of it. When I’ve finished the longhand draft I’ll type a version of the story and go from there. It always looks different to me, better, of course, after it’s typed up. When I’m typing the first draft, I’ll begin to rewrite and add and delete a little then. The real work comes later, after I’ve done three or four drafts of the story. 
  3. I think a little menace is fine to have in a story. For one thing, it’s good for the circulation.
  4. It’s akin to style, what I’m talking about, but it isn’t style alone. It is the writer’s particular and unmistakable signature on everything he writes. It is his world and no other. This is one of the things that distinguishes one writer from another. Not talent. There’s plenty of that around. But a writer who has some special way of looking at things and who gives artistic expression to that way of looking: that writer may be around for a time.
  5. That’s all we have, finally, the words, and they had better be the right ones, with the punctuation in the right places so that they can best say what they are meant to say. If the words are heavy with the writer’s own unbridled emotions, or if they are imprecise and inaccurate for some other reason — if the words are in any way blurred — the reader’s eyes will slide right over them and nothing will be achieved.
  6. I never wrote so much as a line worth a nickel when I was under the influence of alcohol.
  7. You’re told time and again when you’re young to write about what you know, and what do you know better than your own secrets? But unless you’re a special kind of writer, and a very talented one, it’s dangerous to try and write volume after volume on The Story of My Life.
  8. I’m always learning something. Learning never ends.
  9. Anyone can express himself, or herself, but what writers and poets want to do in their work, more than simply express themselves, is communicate, yes?
  10. When I’m writing, I write every day. It’s lovely when that’s happening. One day dovetailing into the next. Sometimes I don’t even know what day of the week it is…I put in a lot of hours at the desk, ten or twelve or fifteen hours at a stretch, day after day.

Carver was an American short story writer and poet. As a young man, he studied  creative writing. After being hospitalized with acute alcoholism in his late thirties, the stories Will You Please Be Quiet, Please? were published. Carver stopped drinking and The American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters awarded him a fellowship to write full-time. He was considered a major writer of the late 20th century and a major force in the revitalization of the American short story literature in the 1980s.  

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 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Google+,  Tumblr  and  Twitter.  

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