Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Authorly Quotations

The Well (one of the oldest and best online communities) has a section called the Inkwell, where authors discuss their work.

Here are some quotations from two of my favorite authors who posted there.

I don't remember Christ ever preaching Against People Who Made Stuff Up, or the chapter in Matthew about Jesus throwing the Fantasy Authors out of the Temple. In fact he was quite big on the whole Parable bit. — Neil Gaiman

I’ve never felt that answers were the real province of the writer; better questions, on the other hand, certainly are. — Neil Gaiman

I know I shouldn't write so much. But when I've finished a book the choice is: find something else to do, or tidy your desk. And I don't know how to tidy my desk. — Terry Pratchett

I always advise people to read outside the field they want to work in. — Terry Pratchett

That last quotation, incidentally, is one reason I read Gaiman and Pratchett and Le Guin and Straub and Disch and Delany so many other fantasy/horror/SF authors. The main reason, of course, is that they write well-crafted, insightful books that grapple with the issues I'm most interested in. "Well-crafted" is important; I have a hard time reading mediocre prose, even if I'm reading purely to escape. But it also matters that, though they are among the foremost writers of our time, they're all writing outside my field. They use very different tropes and genres than I do. I can read them for pleasure, reread them for comfort, study their technique, all without fear that I'm going to lose my voice in theirs.

I can't bury myself in Barbara Kingsolver or Dorothy Allison, though of course I have read their books; their work is too close to mine, both in style and subject. I would end up paralyzed by inadequacy or scouring my work to purge unconscious parallels. That's a losing proposition for everybody concerned.

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