Death is something that happens to others, you think, until it happens to you.
Every writing teacher gives the subliminal message, every time they teach: ‘Your life counts for something.’ In no other subject that I know of is that message given.
I think there must be something wrong with me as a writer. Because all my friends who are writers find reasons to hate everything about their day. But I just love writing. I love starting the day with language and seeing if I can make something of it.
If the sad truth be known, writers, being the misfits we are, probably ought not to belong to families in the first place. We simply are too self-interested, though we may excuse the flaw by calling it ‘focused.’
If you need three adjectives to describe something, then you’ve probably chosen the wrong something.
If you’re going to believe in God, if you’re going to take that leap of faith, as I do, then the God that seems the most comprehensible to me would be the God who set us spinning and said ‘Good luck.’
No writer besides Shakespeare has created more memorable characters attached to vices and virtues. In even their least sympathetic characters, one senses a kind of helplessness to passion quivering between the poles of good and evil.
The God I do believe in is the God who doesn’t care: James Joyce’s God who stands back, paring his fingernails.
The only reason I wanted ‘Making Toast’ as the title is that it is a simple gesture of moving on. Every morning there’s the bread and you make the toast and you start the day.
The trick in foraging for a tooth lost in coffee grounds is not to be misled by the clumps. The only way to be sure is to rub each clump between your thumb and index finger, which makes a mess of your hands.
Whatever brief delights it provides, mere strangeness in poetry and prose eventually leaves us cold, especially when we suspect the writer is stretching for effect to avoid the actual life before his eyes.
Why, for example, do the great writers use anticipation instead of surprise? Because surprise is merely an instrument of the unusual, whereas anticipation of a consequence enlarges our understanding of what is happening.