- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Eudora Welty on Art, Life, Writing, Stories, and More.

 

Happy birthday, Eudora Welty! Here are some quotes from her writing:

 

“Write about what you don’t know about what you know.”

 

“Every writer, like everybody else, thinks he’s living through the crisis of the ages. To write honestly and with all our powers is the least we can do, and the most.”

 

“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”

 

“The first act of insight is throw away the labels. In fiction, while we do not necessarily write about ourselves, we write out of ourselves, using ourselves; what we learn from, what we are sensitive to, what we feel strongly aboutthese become our characters and go to make our plots. Characters in fiction are conceived from within, and they have, accordingly, their own interior life; they are individuals every time.”

 

“I am a writer who came from a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”

 

“The story and its analyses are not mirror-opposites of each other. They are not reflections, either one. Criticism indeed is an art, as a story is, but only the story is to some degree a vision; there is no explanation outside fiction for what the writer is learning to do.”

 

“Since we must and do write each our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another’s work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to, and to ask: is it valid?”

 

“The novelist works neither to correct nor to condone, not at all to comfort, but to make what’s told alive.”

 

“Great fiction shows us not how to conduct our behavior but how to feel. Eventually, it may show us how to face our feelings and face our actions and to have new inklings about what they mean. A good novel of any year can initiate us into our own new experience.”

 

“Making reality real is art’s responsibility. It is a practical assignment, then, a self-assignment: to achieve, by a cultivated sensitivity for observing life, a capacity for receiving impressions, a lonely, unremitting, unaided, unaidable vision, and transferring this vision without distortion to it onto the pages of a novel, where, if the reader is so persuaded, it will turn into the reader’s illusion.”

 

“Human life is fiction’s only theme.”

 

“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”

 

“All experience is an enrichment rather than an impoverishment.”

 

“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass. Yet regardless of where they came from, I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them—with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.”

 

“My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”

 

“Art is never the voice of a country, it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth. And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction.”

 

“There is absolutely everything in great fiction but a clear answer.”

 

“One place understood helps us understand all places better.”

 

“People give pain, are callous and insensitive, empty and cruel…but place heals the hurt, soothes the outrage, fills the terrible vacuum that these human beings make.”

 

“Never think you’ve seen the last of anything.”

 

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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