- Excerpt, Quotes, Reading, Theater, Writing

“Have a belief in yourself that is bigger than anyone’s disbelief.”

Happy birthday, August Wilson! Here are some quotes from the playwright’s plays and interviews.

“Confront the dark parts of yourself, and work to banish them with illumination and forgiveness. Your willingness to wrestle with your demons will cause your angels to sing.”

“You got to be right with yourself before you can be right with anybody else.”

“I done learned my mistake and learned to do what’s right by it. You still trying to get something for nothing. Life don’t owe you nothing. You owe it to yourself.”

“Don’t you try and go through life worrying about if somebody like you or not. You best be making sure they doing right by you.”

“I ain’t never found no place for me to fit. Seem like all I do is start over. It ain’t nothing to find no starting place in the world. You just start from where you find yourself.”

“Everybody in a hurry to slow down.”

“You die how you live.”

“I was, and remain, fascinated by the idea of an audience as a community of people who gather willingly to bear witness. A novelist writes a novel and people read it. But reading is a solitary act. While it may elicit a varied and personal response, the communal nature of the audience is like having five hundred people read your novel and respond to it at the same time. I find that thrilling.”

“My greatest influence has been the blues. And that’s a literary influence, because I think the blues is the best literature that we as black Americans have.”

“Blues is the bedrock of everything I do. All the characters in my plays, their ideas and their attitudes, the stance that they adopt in the world, are all ideas and attitudes that are expressed in the blues. If all this were to disappear off the face of the earth and some people two million unique years from now would dig out this civilization and come across some blues records, working as anthropologists, they would be able to piece together who these people were, what they thought about, what their ideas and attitudes toward pleasure and pain were, all of that. All the components of culture. Just like they do with the Egyptians, they piece together all that stuff. And all you need is the blues. So to me the blues is the book, it’s the bible, it’s everything.”

“You can work so hard and rewrite so much that you get confused or can’t remember what’s in here, ain’t in there, or why this particular thing is in there. Then you’re lost. That’s too much. But as long as you can have control of your material and you’re working to make the story clearer, working to improve it… As long as you don’t get lost up in the rewrites, you’re okay. Once you get lost and you don’t know why you’re doing what you’re doing, you’re in trouble.”

 

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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