Literary Birthday - 19 February - Laurell K. Hamilton

Happy Birthday, Laurell K. Hamilton, born 19 February 1963 

10 Quotes On Writing

  1. Writers write. Put your butt in the chair and write on a regular basis. 
  2. I’ve lost track of the number of people who want to be writers but never actually write anything. Talking about writing, dreaming about writing, can be very fun, but it won’t get a book written. You’ve got to write. 
  3. We are very individualistic creatures, we writers. There is no magic formula, or at least not just one. It’s more like there’s a different one for different writers.
  4. The minimum is four pages a day. If I get more than eight then I’m done for the day. I do five days a week like that. If I’m in the middle of a book, I also work Saturday or Sunday to keep the rhythm. I need that continuous rhythm of being in the story.
  5. By 17, I was submitting to publications and collecting my first rejection slips.
  6. I always treated writing as a profession, never as a hobby. If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will. 
  7. Don’t rewrite as you go. Don’t try to make your first chapters perfect. If you come to a scene where you don’t know what 14th-century underwear looks like, don’t stop and research 14th-century underwear. Just write “underwear here.” The second draft is filling in those holes.
  8. Seventy percent of a first draft is garbage and 30 percent is gold, but you have to write 100 percent to get that 30.
  9. It’s a very daunting thing to think you’re going to sit down and write a whole book out of thin air, but you have to work, even when you’re not inspired.
  10. An editor’s job during negotiations is to get the best possible book for the least amount of money. Your goal during the same negotiations is to get the most amount of money possible for the same book. You and she are diametrically opposed. 

Hamilton is an American fantasy and romance writer. Six million copies of herAnita Blake: Vampire Hunter novels are in print. She is also known for herMerry Gentry series. 

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Literary Birthday - 12 January - Haruki Murakami

Happy Birthday, Haruki Murakami, born 12 January 1949

On Writing: Haruki Murakami

Exerpts taken from Murakami’s memoir, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running

  • ‘In every interview I’m asked what’s the most important quality a novelist has to have. It’s pretty obvious: talent. No matter how much enthusiasm and effort you put into writing, if you totally lack literary talent you can forget about being a novelist. This is more of a prerequisite than a necessary quality. If you don’t have any fuel, even the best car won’t run.’
  • ‘The problem with talent, though, is that in most cases the person involved can’t control its amount or quality. Talent has a mind of its own and wells up when it wants to, and once it dries up, that’s it. Of course, certain poets and rock singers whose genius went out in a blaze of glory—people like Schubert and Mozart, whose dramatic early deaths turned them into legends—have a certain appeal, but for the vast majority of us this isn’t the model we follow.’
  • ‘If I’m asked what the next most important quality is for a novelist, that’s easy too: focus—the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. Without that you can’t accomplish anything of value, while, if you can focus effectively, you’ll be able to compensate for an erratic talent or even a shortage of it. I generally concentrate on work for three or four hours every morning. I sit at my desk and focus totally on what I’m writing. I don’t see anything else, I don’t think about anything else.’
  • ‘After focus, the next most important thing for a novelist is, hands down, endurance. If you concentrate on writing three or four hours a day and feel tired after a week of this, you’re not going to be able to write a long work. What’s needed of the writer of fiction—at least one who hopes to write a novel—is the energy to focus every day for half a year, or a year, or two years.’
  • ‘Fortunately, these two disciplines—focus and endurance—are different from talent, since they can be acquired and sharpened through training. You’ll naturally learn both concentration and endurance when you sit down every day at your desk and train yourself to focus on one point. This is a lot like the training of muscles I wrote of a moment ago. You have to continually transmit the object of your focus to your entire body, and make sure it thoroughly assimilates the information necessary for you to write every single day and concentrate on the work at hand. And gradually you’ll expand the limits of what you’re able to do. Almost imperceptibly you’ll make the bar rise. This involves the same process as jogging every day to strengthen your muscles and develop a runner’s physique. Add a stimulus and keep it up. And repeat. Patience is a must in this process, but I guarantee results will come.’
  • ‘In private correspondence the great mystery writer Raymond Chandler once confessed that even if he didn’t write anything, he made sure he sat down at his desk every single day and concentrated. I understand the purpose behind his doing this. This is the way Chandler gave himself the physical stamina a professional writer needs, quietly strengthening his willpower. This sort of daily training was indispensable to him.’
  • ‘Most of what I know about writing I’ve learned through running every day. These are practical, physical lessons. How much can I push myself? How much rest is appropriate—and how much is too much? How far can I take something and still keep it decent and consistent? When does it become narrow-minded and inflexible? How much should I be aware of the world outside, and how much should I focus on my inner world? To what extent should I be confident in my abilities, and when should I start doubting myself? I know that if I hadn’t become a long-distance runner when I became a novelist, my work would have been vastly different. How different? Hard to say. But something would definitely have been different.’

Murakami is a Japanese writer and translator. His works of fiction and non-fiction have won critical acclaim and numerous awards, including the Franz Kafka Prize and the Jerusalem Prize.
Murakami is considered an important figure in post-modern literature. The Guardian praised Murakami as ‘among the world’s greatest living novelists’ for his works and achievements.

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Literary Birthday - 31 December - Nicholas Sparks

Happy Birthday, Nicholas Sparks, born 31 December 1965

On Writing - 10 Quotes

  1. By reading a lot of novels in a variety of genres, and asking questions, it’s possible to learn how things are done—the mechanics of writing, so to speak—and which genres and authors excel in various areas.
  2. Read a variety of books on the craft of writing. On Writing by Stephen King, The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White, Creating Fiction edited by Julie Checkoway, and A Dangerous Profession by Frederick Busch, are but a few that I would recommend.  
  3. You can’t be a writer if you don’t write, it’s just that simple. I wrote two complete novels and another book before I even attempted to write The Notebook. Those two novels are unpublished, but they taught me that I not only liked to write, but that I had it in me to finish a novel once I’d started it. 
  4. I write five or six days a week, usually a minimum of 2000 words, sometimes more. 2000 words can take anywhere from three to eight hours.
  5. All people who regard writing as a profession write consistently. Those who regard it as a hobby usually don’t.
  6. I do not use profanity in my novels. My characters all go to church. 
  7. Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.
  8. Above all, a query letter is a sales pitch and it is the single most important page an unpublished writer will ever write. It’s the first impression and will either open the door or close it. It’s that important, so don’t mess it up. Mine took 17 drafts and two weeks to write. 
  9. I’m always trying to improve, to try new things, to write a new story that is better than anything else I’ve written.
  10. Writing the last page of the first draft is the most enjoyable moment in writing. It’s one of the most enjoyable moments in life, period. 

Nicholas Sparks is a best-selling American novelist and screenwriter. He has 17 published novels. Seven have been adapted to films, including Message in a Bottle, A Walk to RememberThe NotebookNights in RodantheDear JohnThe Last Song, and most recently The Lucky One. All of his books have been New York Times bestsellers, with nearly 80 million copies in print worldwide, in over 45 languages.

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Literary Birthday - 25 September - William Faulkner

William Faulkner was born 25 September 1897, and died 6 July 1962

The 12 Best William Faulkner Quotes On Writing

  1. Poets are almost always wrong about facts. That's because they are not really interested in facts: only in truth.
  2. The best fiction is far more true than any journalism.
  3. If a story is in you, it has to come out.
  4. The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again.
  5. It is my ambition to be, as a private individual, abolished and voided from history, leaving it markless, no refuse save the printed books; I wish I had enough sense to see ahead thirty years ago, and like some of the Elizabethans, not signed them. It is my aim, and every effort bent, that the sum and history of my life, which in the same sentence is my obit and epitaph too, shall be them both: He made the books and he died.
  6. In writing, you must kill all your darlings.
  7. Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.
  8. The artist doesn’t have time to listen to the critics. The ones who want to be writers read the reviews, the ones who want to write don’t have the time to read reviews.
  9. A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others. 
  10. 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. 
  11. My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whisky. 
  12. Read, read, read. Read everything— trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it is good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out the window. 

Faulkner was an American writer and Nobel Prize laureate. Faulkner is one of the most important writers of Southern literature in the United States. He was awarded the 1949 Nobel Prize in Literature. A Fable (1954) and his last novel The Reivers (1962), won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Follow this link to find out more about Faulkner House.

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Dorothy Parker: On Writing

Taken from The Paris Review interview by Marion Capron

How do you actually write out a story?

It takes me six months to do a story. I think it out and then write it sentence by sentence—no first draft. I can’t write five words but that I change seven.

How do you name your characters?

The telephone book and from the obituary columns.

Do you keep a notebook?

I tried to keep one, but I never could remember where I put the damn thing. I always say I’m going to keep one tomorrow.

How do you get the story down on paper?

I wrote in longhand at first, but I’ve lost it. I use two fingers on the typewriter. I think it’s unkind of you to ask. I know so little about the typewriter that once I bought a new one because I couldn’t change the ribbon on the one I had.

How about the novel? Have you ever tried that form?

I wish to God I could do one, but I haven’t got the nerve.

Do you think economic security an advantage to the writer? 

Yes. Being in a garret doesn’t do you any good unless you’re some sort of a Keats. The people who lived and wrote well in the twenties were comfortable and easy living. They were able to find stories and novels, and good ones, in conflicts that came out of two million dollars a year, not a garret. As for me, I’d like to have money. And I’d like to be a good writer. These two can come together, and I hope they will, but if that’s too adorable, I’d rather have money. I hate almost all rich people, but I think I’d be darling at it.

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Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to Communicate