Favorite Quotes

ON WRITING, CREATIVITY, AND THE RELATED PROCESSES:

    • “You put a character out there and you’re in their power. You’re in trouble if they’re in yours.” —Ann Beattie
    • “But keep characters in propinquity long enough and a story will always develop a plot.” —Keith Miller, The Book of Flying
    • “The bad novelist constructs his characters; he directs them and makes them speak. The true novelist listens to them and watches them act; he hears their voices even before he knows them.” —AndrĂ© Gide
    • “Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” —Red Smith
    • “Writing is a solitary occupation. Family, friends, and society are the natural enemies of the writer. He must be alone, uninterrupted, and slightly savage if he is to sustain and complete an undertaking. ” —Jessamyn West
    • “When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.” —Ernest Hemingway
    • “It’s not as if the stories merge to a point where you think they are your life, but you do let them in the front door and the back door, and it’s okay that sometimes certain characters stay for dinner.” —Tori Amos, Piece By Piece
    • “We are like the little boy in The Sixth Sense who can see dead people, except that we can see dead punctuation. Whisper it in petrified little-boy tones: dead punctuation is invisible to everyone else–yet we see it all the time. No one understands us seventh-sense people. They regard us as freaks. When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to ‘get a life’ by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves.” —Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves
    • “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
    • “If language were liquid, it would be rushing in. Instead here we are in a silence more eloquent than any word could ever be.” —Suzanne Vega, “Language”
    • “To those who care about punctuation, a sentence such as ‘Thank God its Friday’ (without the apostrophe) rouses feelings not only of despair but of violence. The confusion of the possessive ‘its’ (no apostrophe) with the contractive ‘it’s’ (with apostrophe) is an unequivocal signal of illiteracy and sets off a simple Pavlovian ‘kill’ response in the average stickler. . . . Getting your itses mixed up is the greatest solecism in the world of punctuation. No matter that you have a PhD and have read all of Henry James twice. If you persist in writing ‘Good food at it’s best’, you deserve to be struck by lightning, hacked up on the spot and buried in an unmarked grave.” —Lynne Truss, Eats, Shoots & Leaves
    • “Now and again thousands of memories converge, harmonize, arrange themselves around a central idea in a coherent form and I write a story.” —Katherine Anne Porter
    • “The truly creative mind in any field is no more than this: A human creature born abnormally, inhumanly sensitive. To him… a touch is a blow, a sound is a noise, a misfortune is a tragedy, a joy is an ecstasy, a friend is a lover, a lover is a god, and failure is death. Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create – – – so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, his very breath is cut off from him. He must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency he is not really alive unless he is creating.” —Pearl Buck

ON GOD, RELIGION, SKEPTICISM, AND SPIRITUALITY:

    • “Humans assume that if there is a god, he or she is as judgmental as they are.” —Me, The House That Ivy Built #3
    • “Most of those people, it’s not that they love God so much, it’s that they love the idea of YOU burning in Hell for eternity.” —Rev. Ivan Stang, The Happy Mutant Handbook
    • “Try to see that no priest, no God can suffer on your behalf if you have not tried to make better what you made bad.” —Marian Green, The Gentle Arts of Aquarian Magic
    • “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.” —The New Testament, Matthew 7:21
    • “In science we don’t have prophets. We have heroes, but not prophets.” —Steven Weinberg, Beyond Belief conference 2006
    • “Far from being the crown of human thought and religion as its supporters have claimed for several bloody millennia, [monotheism] is in fact a monstrous step backwards–a step that has been responsible for more human misery than any other idea in known history.” —Isaac Bonewits, The Druid Chronicles
    • “Creationists usually misunderstand the strength of the word ‘theory’ within science. Evolution is ‘just a theory’ to scientists the same way Christians consider the Bible ‘just a book.'” —Me, general conversation
    • “Men rarely (if ever) manage to dream up a god superior to themselves. Most gods have the manners and morals of a spoiled child.” —Robert Heinlein
    • “I do not feel obligated to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reasons, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.” —Galileo Galilei
    • “Edited by mostly unknown scholars in A.D. 367, compiled from documents written 30 to 110 years after the Christ event by no one who was present at the events, and composed for the most part by unknown authors in the Greek language that Jesus never spoke, it is held up as the only true record of the Christ story.” —Leonard Shlain, The Alphabet Versus the Goddess
    • “We can’t point at an image of an evil god, such as Satan, and blame it for our faults and weaknesses. We can’t blame fate. Every second of each day we’re creating our futures, shaping the courses of our lives.” —Scott Cunningham
    • “When I want to take God at His Word exactly, I take a peep out the window at His Creation. Because that, darling, He makes fresh for us every day, without a lot of dubious middle managers.” —Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible
    • “A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything.” —Friedrich Nietzsche
    • “I’m satisfied and sufficiently occupied with the things which are without tormenting or troubling myself about those which may indeed be, but of which I have no evidence.” —Thomas Jefferson
    • “You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt. ” —Robert M. Pirsig
    • “The problem with religion is that it is the only mode of thought that systematically closes people to real conversation. Because it is the only mode of thought that puts a positive value on a person’s perpetual immunity to new evidence and new argument. And this closure is euphemistically called ‘faith’ and it is generally thought to be beyond criticism even by atheist scientists who don’t share it.” —Sam Harris, Beyond Belief conference 2007
    • “God holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider or some loathsome insect, over the fire . . . you are ten thousand times so abominable in his eyes as the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours.” —Jonathan Edwards, A Jonathan Edwards Reader–[Scary that this is how some people see their creator, eh?]
    • “The popularity of the paranormal, oddly enough, might even be grounds for encouragement. I think that the appetite for mystery, the enthusiasm for that which we do not understand, is healthy and to be fostered. It is the same appetite which drives the best of true science, and it is an appetite which true science is best qualified to satisfy.” —Richard Dawkins
    • “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” —Voltaire
    • “By labeling virtually every natural urge and function as a sin (from sexuality, to having negative feelings towards our enemies), the church ensures the lifelong dependency and commitment of its guilt-ridden, emotionally-crippled followers.” —Jason Curry, “Why Do You Believe In God?”
    • “The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one.” —George Bernard Shaw
    • “With religious moderates, you have people talking about just wanting meaning in their lives, which I argue is a total non-sequitur when it comes down to justifying your belief in God. If I told you that I thought there was a diamond the size of a refrigerator buried in my backyard, and you asked me, why do you think that? I say, this belief gives my life meaning, or my family draws a lot of joy from this belief, and we dig for this diamond every Sunday and we have this gigantic pit in our lawn. I would start to sound like a lunatic to you. You can’t believe there really is a diamond in your backyard because it gives your life meaning. If that’s possible, that’s self-deception that nobody wants.” —Sam Harris
    • “I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world.” —Richard Dawkins
    • “What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.” —Christopher Hitchens, “Mommie Dearest,” Slate
    • “The finest act of worship is to try to understand.” —Kathy Mar, “The Word of God”
    • “No religion should depend for its survival upon claims of exclusivity.” —Gus DiZerega, Pagans and Christians
    • “Tell a devout Christian . . . that frozen yogurt can make a man invisible, and he is likely to require as much evidence as anyone else, and to be persuaded only to the extent that you give it. Tell him that the book he keeps by his bed was written by an invisible deity who will punish him with fire for eternity if he fails to accept its every incredible claim about the universe, and he seems to require no evidence whatsoever.” —Sam Harris
    • “I contend that we are all atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.” —Stephen L. Roberts
    • “I do not believe in the immortality of the individual, and I consider ethics to be an exclusively human concern with no superhuman authority behind it.” —Albert Einstein
    • “The Bible is full of interest. It has noble poetry in it; and some clever fables; and some blood-drenched history; and some good morals; and a wealth of obscenity; and upwards of a thousand lies.” —Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth
    • “If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for a reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed.” —Albert Einstein

ON LOVE AND RELATIONSHIPS:

    • “Love can change a person the way a parent can change a baby–awkwardly, and often with a great deal of mess.” —Lemony Snicket, Horseradish
    • “Love is not blind. Love sees what is most true.” —Vanna Bonta, Flight
    • “Full is not heavy as empty, not nearly my love. . . . ” —Fiona Apple, “The First Taste,” from the album Tidal
    • “Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” —Butch Hancock
    • “I don’t wanna be your other half; I believe that one and one make two.” —Alanis Morissette, “Not the Doctor”
    • “And now I think of having loved and having lost . . . you never know what it’s like to never love. Who can say what’s better?” —Indigo Girls, “Fare Thee Well”
    • “When you truly love someone, you don’t have to choose between life and a ‘boyfriend.'” —My friend Jessica

ON PERSPECTIVE AND PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE:

    • “My alone feels so good. I’ll only have you if you’re sweeter than my solitude. —Warsan Shire
    • “Once upon a time . . . What time are we upon and where do I belong?” —Francesca Lia Block, Witch Baby
    • “All that you touch/You Change./All that you Change/Changes you./The only lasting truth/Is Change./God/Is Change.” —Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower
    • “It’s been my understanding that most humans think the world is about ten feet tall.” —Me, The House That Ivy Built #3
    • “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” — Isaac Asimov
    • “If you prefer to live in darkness, put out your eyes. Don’t try to put out the sun. Some of us like it where it is.” —Me, general conversation
    • “You’re not to be so blind with patriotism that you can’t face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says it.” —Malcolm X
    • “A person who has good thoughts can never be ugly.” —Roald Dahl, The Twits
    • “When you know a thing, to hold that you know it; and when you do not know a thing, to allow that you do not know it, this is knowledge.” — Confucius
    • “Great spirits have always found violent opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence.” —Albert Einstein
    • “The public is a lumbering gestalt creature whose clumsiness and ignorance frequently cause it to poison and injure itself.” — Me
    • “Sometimes you need to look reality in the eye, and deny it.” —Garrison Keillor
    • “The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” —Carl Sagan
    • “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” —Charles Darwin
    • “Wisdom comes with age. But wisdom doesn’t always come with age, nor does it come exclusively with age.” —Me, general conversation
    • “An it harm none, do what thou wilt.” —The Wiccan Rede
    • “For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the same measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” —The New Testament, Matthew 7:2
    • “Maybe you don’t like your job. Maybe you didn’t get enough sleep. Well, nobody likes their job. Nobody got enough sleep. Maybe you just had the worst day of your life, but, you know, there’s no escape, and there’s no excuse. So just suck up and be nice.” —Ani DiFranco, “Pixie,” Little Plastic Castle
    • “People are the most fascinating mysteries I’ve ever read.” —Tori Amos, Piece By Piece
    • “Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies: ‘God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.'” —Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
    • “We are evolved denizens of Middle World, and that limits what we are capable of imagining.” —Richard Dawkins, “Our Queer Universe,” TED Talks
    • “Think of something from your childhood. Something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there. After all, you really were there at the time, weren’t you? How else would you remember it? But here is the bombshell: you weren’t there. Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place. Matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you. Whatever you are, therefore, you are not the stuff of which you are made. If that doesn’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, read it again until it does, because it is important.” — Steve Grand, Creation: Life and How to Make It
    • “If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet renounce controversy are people who want crops without ploughing the ground.” —Frederick Douglass
    • “Once you’re dead, there’s no ‘yeah but.'” —Me, general conversation

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *