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Analyze that Quote: Joseph Conrad

Who’s ready for some learning time? I love dissecting quotes, and the extrovert in me enjoys typing it out, since I’d rather output that ruminate in my head. Probably why I’m a writer, ha.

A writer without interest or sympathy for the foibles of his fellow man is not conceivable as a writer.
– Joseph Conrad

This quote makes me want to stamp my feet, wave a flag and point furiously at it, simply due to how important a point I think it communicates. Joseph Conrad’s words aren’t difficult to process and the message is a straightforward, but important one.

I’ve stated this before, but writing teaches empathy, and many writers happen to be avid readers, and have been for a long time. Empathy is a key component in being a writer, and I believe probably the number one reason I was always interested in writing. I love connecting to people, and examining life through different perspectives than my own. It is so. very. important. as a society that we have this ability. Unfortunately, with decline in readers, and most people buried in their phones, empathy is hard to come by these days.

All the more reason why books are important, right?

Back on topic though, I can’t imagine being a writer if you don’t care about people. People should fascinate you, scintillate you, and inspire you. Whether you’ve seen humanity at its worst, or its best, human beings and their unique problems tend to dominate the mind of a writer. I’ve met plenty of people who can’t empathize. Who don’t care about others. Let me tell you, never in a million years would I want to read anything they write.

After all, how dull and boring would it be to not feel? To not care? To not long for something different, or a better place, or have the suffering of others inspire inside yourself such a mighty rage that burns for a lifetime?

So yes, I do believe this is important advice.

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Analyze that Quote: Willa Cather

When embarking on the writing journey, oftentimes, your best teachers are already published writers. Indirectly, through their stories, their style, and even their words of wisdom regarding writing.

Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.
– Willa Cather

I love this quote for its complex simplicity. This isn’t suggesting that you won’t deal with traumatic events or situations that shape you later on in life, that will inspire you to write a masterpiece. Obviously, that happens all the time. However, I believe the author’s referring to a more subtle magic–our tics, our neuroses, our fears, and defense mechanisms–the content that plagues us. That stems from childhood.

For example, my own writing–one theme tends to follow me around a LOT, and no matter what other hurdles my life brings, I think this theme tends to work its way into my stories. Loneliness is huge for me, because I was a pretty lonely kid. And a lot of writers I’ve spoken to happen to leave that same subconscious imprint on their works. Things from childhood sneak into our stories even when we’ve overcome them, because they’re cemented in our psyche.

Best thing to do? Tap into it. Figure out what makes *you* tick and embrace it. Not only will inspiration come more easily, but knowing yourself can help make you stronger as a person.

Posted in Articles, Writing Tip of the Day

Analyze that Quote: Ray Bradbury

Not only can we learn things about the world around us, but we can also learn about ourselves from certain quotes. Since writers work with words for a living, oftentimes their written quotes hold a weight to them and wisdom that we can draw from.

Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.
– Ray Bradbury

This is a quote that appeals to me personally, because I believe in the results of hard work. What I think this addresses, and in a most brilliant way, is the difference between having a gift and passion. Some people are gifted at art, at music, at writing, or even at science, math, anything. Not that work takes no time, but their genius springs forth even in rudimentary stages, and oftentimes doesn’t require the disciplines it would from most others.

However, same as with any gift, it can be used or squandered. There are many writers who have a gift and potential to be great, but either have other priorities, or don’t care to pursue. Or, don’t have the discipline of one who’s had to work at it for a long time.

On the other hand, anyone can learn a craft, given enough time, work, and passion. Those three factors are of vital importance, because otherwise, it’ll be another abandoned pursuit. The people who achieve their writing success via hard work rather than a natural gift of it though have the tools developed to make a career out of it, because they’ve formed the necessary disciplines. A career requires regularity, not writing when the ‘muse inspires.’ Try that excuse with a boss at your day job and watch you get laughed out of the place.

While that might take some of the romantic whimsy out of writing, I do think it’s a valuable quote for people in the field, because those who are determined and passionate, those who have their goal in mind, will utilize it to further their agenda of continuing to hone their craft and write until they become truly great.

Posted in Articles, Writing Tip of the Day

Analyze that Quote: Ernest Hemingway

Everyone has an opinion on how to write, and those of us who do so tend to place value on our predecessors who have found success. However, one thing I’ve found to be true is that people and their processes are different. So today, we’ll analyze Ernest Hemingway.

It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.
– Ernest Hemingway

Most folks have read at least one Hemingway book in their school career. Mine was The Sun Also Rises. So, part of what comes into play when analyzing the writer’s advice is also their background.

This particular quote however, I find to be sound advice, from a practical standpoint. It can be taken in several manners. First and foremost, if your learning is showing in your writing, then obviously it hasn’t been polished enough. Hence the quote cements the importance of honing your craft before pursuing publication, as well as the importance of a damn good editor.

The other manner this quote can be taken has to do with psychology of how people work, and would also fit Hemingway’s cut and dry, practical perspective on things. People aren’t ‘wow’ed by your hardship until you’ve found success. Not to say that you won’t have your support–some are lucky enough to have devout friends and family by their side while they scrape their way up to a reputation. However, the average passersby, the normal reader doesn’t care about that.

In fact, the general populace doesn’t go digging through the filth to find a gem, so in essence, Hemingway’s quote can have quite a different message.

“Let them think you were born that way.”

What better way to create a name, a reputation, a legend, than to play on the public’s ignorance of craftsmanship and present a solid front? You wouldn’t go to a job interview and talk about all your mistakes, would you?

Everyone makes them, and everyone has hurdles, but I think the true gem in this quote is the underlying subtlety of the drive for success. Instead of bemoaning your hardships, you keep working until you present that polished, published front, of the writer you’ve worked so hard to become.