A Quote for all Seasons

I love quotes. I’m a long time collector, gathering together others’ words and storing them away for times of need. There is something inherently comforting about a quote that perfectly captures what you need to hear at a certain point in life. I found this more than ever with writing. Some quotes spur me on when I need encouragement. Some comfort me when I’m feeling precious. Others make me laugh when I’m getting too serious (a fault of mine). So I thought I’d share some with you, just in case there are other word collectors out there…

A quote to quiet the inner writing critic:

All first drafts are shit ~ Ernest Hemmingway

A quote for chasing an elusive muse:

You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club ~ Jack London

Quotes for when I’m sick of editing:

A book is never finished, simply abandoned ~ Rebecca Huntley

A writer is someone to whom writing is more difficult than it is to other people ~ Thomas Mann

Quotes for when I’d rather be on holiday than writing:

Because I’d always wanted to be a writer, I decided that when I left school I needed to go out into the world and collect experiences, so that when I had enough I could write about them ~ Prue Mason

Writing is long periods of thinking and short periods of writing ~ Ernest Hemingway

Quotes for those who think children’s books are easy to write:

Writing a picture book is like writing War & Peace in Haiku ~ Mem Fox

Art is the expression of the most profound thoughts in the simplest way ~ Einstein

The difference between the right word and the wrong word is the same as the difference between lighting and a lightning bug ~ Mark Twain

Quotes that capture why I write for children:

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.  Tempest roams in the pathless sky, ships are wrecked in the trackless water, death is abroad and children play ~ Tagore

I believe that the only lastingly important form of writing is writing for children. It is writing that is carried in the reader’s heart for a lifetime; it is writing that speaks to the future ~ Sonya Hartnett

To be a successful children’s writer you will need to get in touch with your inner child, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that inner children are all sweetness and light. They can be argumentative, unreasonable, uncontrollable and highly irritating. You will need to embrace these qualities of your child as well … invoke the forces of anarchy, chaos, silliness, danger and magic ~ Andy Griffiths

Quotes for when I need a laugh:

Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read ~ Groucho Marx

I love deadlines.  I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by ~ Douglas Adams

Writers are very private people who run around naked in public ~ Katherine Patterson

I’d love to hear other people’s favourites. There is always room for more words…

15 Responses to “A Quote for all Seasons”

  1. 1 Cassandra Jade November 28, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    I love quotes and have collected them for a long time. My favourite for when I am rationalising laziness is from a spanish proverb – “How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterwards.” I have always loved Mark Twain’s quote about choosing the right word and I was glad to see this on the list. Though the one I like to remind myself of is “Success is more often the result of hard work than of talent”, I have no idea where I got that one from but someone said it and I think it is true.
    One for all writers: “The world of reality has limits; the world of imagination has none” – Jean Jacques Rousseau

  2. 2 joannagaudry November 29, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Thanks for those, Katherine. Much obliged. I’ve added them to my favourites. You have a terrific blog with excellent writing advice.

    I particularly love the first quote: ‘All first drafts are shit’.

    That makes me feel a lot better.

    Joanna :))

  3. 3 Katherine Battersby November 29, 2009 at 11:41 am

    Cassandra, thanks for sharing those – I’ll add them to my list. I love Mark Twain’s quote about doing nothing. And Rousseau’s quote perfectly captures why I’m sure so many of us write.

    Joanna, thanks for your kind words. Hemmingway’s quote is my favourite too. So short and to the point, but invaluable to me for chasing away my inner critic when writing that first draft!

  4. 4 Lyn November 29, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    Regarding editing, you can’t go past Kim Wilkins:
    ‘Don’t be afraid to autopsy the puppy. It’s for his own good and you have to find out what’s wrong with the little guy.’
    Brilliant, sage advice

  5. 5 Lynn Ward November 29, 2009 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks Katherine.

    “It’s never too late to be who you might have been” George Eliot

    This quote is one that keeps me plugging away even when I have convinced myself I will never get there.

  6. 6 Katherine Battersby November 29, 2009 at 8:57 pm

    Lyn, Kim is brilliant! Love that quote – I suppose writers give such great quotes because, of course, they’re naturals with words :)

    Lynn, I know what you mean about that nagging self-doubt. Glad you’ve found a great quote to fight it and keep going – you’ll get there!

  7. 7 Helen-Louise Usher November 29, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Hi Katherine,
    thanks- these made me smile, particularly Hemmingways ‘All first drafts are shit.’ one quote that keeps me going is:
    ‘It’s not how good you are, but how good you want to be.’ (unknown author)
    hope all’s well.

  8. 8 Elaine Ouston November 30, 2009 at 9:32 am

    A quote for writers of fantasy: “Fantasy enables us to enter worlds of infinate possibilites. The maps and contours of fantasy are circumscribed only by imagination itself.” Richard Matthews – Fantasy: The liberation of Imagination.

  9. 9 Trudie Trewin November 30, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Good advice – ‘I try to leave out the parts that people skip’ – Elmore Leonard.

    Too true – ‘Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead.’ – Gene Fowler.

    Surely the worst! – ‘the best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.’ – Agatha Christie. Nooo, Agatha!

    the one I use the most – ‘$#%&&@’ – All of us!

    Great post Kath. Love the first one, by Hemminway!

  10. 10 Sue Ford November 30, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    You have some of my favorite quotes. ;-) I post a writing quote of the week on my website: http://www.susanuhlig.com. This past week’s:

    A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.
    E.B. White

  11. 11 Lynn Priestley December 1, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Great post,Kath,

    On my refurbished desk is a small brass plaque I had made and engraved with the words, ‘Imagination is more important than knowledge’. I like to think so. Sue Ford – thanks for that timely reminder!

    Lyn, I am also a fan of Kim’s puppy quote – though I cringe every time I hear it – but I guess that’s the point…

  12. 12 Katherine Battersby December 4, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    So many great quotes to add to the list. Thanks guys! Trudie, I’ll swipe that Agatha Christie one from my mind though – we hardly need more pressure to do housework!

  13. 13 katswhiskers December 8, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Heh Kath. You have so many good quotes there. I’m thinking you may guess what my contribution will be. One I scored from Sandy Curtis in 2003 – but she was quoting… ‘someone’ – and I don’t know who that someone was!

    Writing is 5% inspiration, 5% creativity, and 90% DETERMINATION.

    PS What’s with the snow? I’m with wordpress – but it’s not snowing on kats! (A shimmering heatwave is currently surrounding these ckats.) Must just be a snow bunny thing…
    Or perhaps they liked your ‘Quote for all SEASONS’ – and brought on the snow…

  14. 14 Katherine Battersby December 8, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    A great quote Kat – worth repeating here :)

    If I must reveal my snowy secret … you have to turn it on. Go to dahsboard > appearance > extras and tick the ‘show snow’ box.

  15. 15 katswhiskers December 8, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    A-mazing! Now it’s snowing over at katswhiskers too. (Only for a little while – until I cool down.)

    Clever little bunny, aren’t you!

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About this Blog…

A blog of ramblings about the world of writing and illustrating for children, by an author / illustrator who might just have a thing for rabbits.

Katherine's picture books, 'Squish Rabbit' and 'Brave Squish Rabbit', are out with Viking (Penguin, US) and UQP (Australia). Please e-mail if you would like her to blog about something in particular.

All text & images  Katherine Battersby

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