Quotes

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Give the reader hell. Stretch the reader.
It takes three or four years before the present day sinks in to you as a novelist. It has not just to be accepted in the mind but travel down your spine and fill your body and you can�t respond immediately to immediate events, there is this incubation period.
The easier a thing is to write then the more the writer gets paid for writing it. (And vice versa: ask the poets at the bus stop.)
Every writer hopes or boldly assumes that his life is in some sense exemplary, that the particular will turn out to be universal.
A writer�s life is half ambition and half anxiety, and there has to be both. It is no good writing a novel and feeling fine, and it is no good writing a whole novel feeling miserable. It has to be both, that mixture of anxiety and ambition, and you get that with every novel, but more so when you write about these epics of human suffering. I felt that just as much when I wrote about the Gulag. Every writer knows what that is. The process goes� you have to think: �This novel I am writing is no good.� Then you have to think: �All my novels are no good.� And then, when you reach that point, you can begin.
I think novelists are in the education business, really, but they're not teaching you times tables, they are teaching you responsiveness and morality and to make nuanced judgments. And really to just make the planet look a bit richer when you go out into the street.
Probably all writers are at some point briefly under the impression that they are in the forefront of disintegration and chaos, that they are among the first to live and work after things fall apart.

The Moronic Inferno and Other Visits to America
The first thing that distinguishes a writer is that he is most alive when alone.
What did Nabokov and Joyce have in common, apart from the poor teeth and the great prose? Exile, and decades of near pauperism. A compulsive tendency to overtip. An uxoriousness that their wives deservedly inspired. More than that, they both lived their lives 'beautifully' - not in any Jamesian sense (where, besides, ferocious solvency would have been a prerequisite), but in the droll fortitude of their perseverance. They got the work done, with style.

Experience: A Memoir
I don't think you can write novels on the road. You need a certain stability.
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On Anger: "For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
Essays
On Destiny: "Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today."
Human, All Too Human
On Friendship: "A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love."
Essays