Annie Dillard-The Writing Life

One of my dreams is to one day write a book. The problem? I’m not a very good writer. One of the most critical ingredients when it comes to writing is something I lack; patience.

Because I do have a crazy love affair with books I was reading “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard this afternoon. Within this book I found good advice for wannabe writers, humor and amazing insight about life in general. Here are a few quotes that caught my attention.

Annie-dillardUsing our time well: “There are no shortage of good days. It is good lives that are hard to come by.” (This is my favorite quote by the way.)

The dark and lonely world of writing: “It should surprise no one that the life of a writer-such as it is-is colorless to the point of sensory deprivation. Many writers do little else but sit in small rooms recalling the real world. This explains why so many books describe the author’s childhood. A writer’s childhood may well have been the occasion of his only first hand experience. Writers read literary biography, and surround themselves with other writers, deliberately to enforce in themselves the ludicrous notion that a reasonable option for occupying yourself on the planet until your life span plays itself out is sitting in a small room for the duration, in the company of pieces of paper.”

Coffee, stimulants and the writer: “To crank myself up I stood on a jack and ran myself up. I tightened myself like a bolt. I inserted myself in a vise-clamp and wound the handle till the pressure built. I drank coffee in titrated doses. It was a tricky business, requiring the finely tuned judgment of a skilled anesthesiologist. There was a tiny range within which coffee was effective, short of which it was useless, and beyond which, fatal.”

Writing is like spending time with a dying friend: “I do not so much write a book as sit up with it, as with a dying friend. During visiting hours, I enter its room with dread and sympathy for its many disorders. I hold its hand and hope it will get better.”

We are here on earth to give voice to what astonishes us: “Why do you never find anything written about that idiosyncratic thought you advert to, about your fascination with something no one else understands? Because it is up to you. There is something you find interesting, for a reason hard to explain. It is hard to explain because you have never read it on any page; there you begin. You were made and set here to give voice to this; your own astonishment.”

What astonishes you these days?

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