- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.”

 

Happy birthday, E. L. Doctorow! Here are some quotes from the writer:

 

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”

 

“Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

 

“The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.”

 

“The writer isn’t made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.”

 

“I am telling you what I know—words have music and if you are a musician, you will write to hear them.”

 

“When I’m writing, I like to seal everything off and face the wall, not to look outside the window. The only way out is through the sentences.”

 

“When you’re writing a book, you don’t really think about it critically. You don’t want to know too well what you’re doing. First, you write the book, then you find the justification for it. The book is constructed as a conversation, with someone doing most of the talking and someone doing most of the listening.”

 

“Planning to write is not writing. Outlining…researching…talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”

 

“A book is not complete until it’s read. The reader’s mind flows through sentences as through a circuit—it illuminates them and brings them to life.”

 

“I don’t have a style, but the books do. Each demands its own method of presentation, and I like that.”

 

“A physical book is great technology if you think about it. Once it’s produced it doesn’t use up any energy, and if you take decent care of it, it will last for ever. That’s a considerable technological achievement.”

 

“We’re always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy.”

 

“Suffering isn’t a moral endowment. People don’t always do well under duress.”

 

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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