Never confuse motion with action.
View quote | Quotes about Action

The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.
View quote | Quotes about Adversity

As you get older it is harder to have heroes, but it is sort of necessary.
View quote | Quotes about Age and Aging

I wish I could write well enough to write about aircraft. Faulkner did it very well in Pylon but you cannot do something someone else has done though you might have done it if they hadn't.
View quote | Quotes about Airplane and Aviation

Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.
View quote | Quotes about Alcohol and Alcoholism

Don't you drink? I notice you speak slightingly of the bottle. I have drunk since I was fifteen and few things have given me more pleasure. When you work hard all day with your head and know you must work again the next day what else can change your ideas and make them run on a different plane like whisky? When you are cold and wet what else can warm you? Before an attack who can say anything that gives you the momentary well-being that rum does? The only time it isn't good for you is when you write or when you fight. You have to do that cold. But it always helps my shooting. Modern life, too, is often a mechanical oppression and liquor is the only mechanical relief.
View quote | Quotes about Alcohol and Alcoholism

I do not think I had ever seen a nastier-looking man. Under the black hat, when I had first seen them, the eyes had been those of an unsuccessful rapist.
View quote | Quotes about Appearance

I am opposed to writing about the private lives of living authors and psychoanalyzing them while they are alive. Criticism is getting all mixed up with a combination of the Junior F.B.I. -men, discards from Freud and Jung and a sort of Columnist peep-hole and missing laundry list school. Every young English professor sees gold in them dirty sheets now. Imagine what they can do with the soiled sheets of four legal beds by the same writer and you can see why their tongues are slavering.
View quote | Quotes about Biography

The good parts of a book may be only something a writer is lucky enough to overhear or it may be the wreck of his whole damn life --and one is as good as the other.
View quote | Quotes about Books - Reading

All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you; the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse, and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was.
View quote | Quotes about Books - Reading

It wasn't by accident that the Gettysburg address was so short. The laws of prose writing are as immutable as those of flight, of mathematics, of physics.
View quote | Quotes about Brevity

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast.
View quote | Quotes about Cities and City Life

A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.
View quote | Quotes about Comedy and Comedians

If the book is good, is about something that you know, and is truly written, and reading it over you see that this is so, you can let the boys yip and the noise will have that pleasant sound coyotes make on a very cold night when they are out in the snow and you are in your own cabin that you have built or paid for with your work.
View quote | Quotes about Contentment

Courage is grace under pressure.
View quote | Quotes about Courage

Cowardice, as distinguished from panic, is almost always simply a lack of ability to suspend the functioning of the imagination.
View quote | Quotes about Coward and Cowardice

From things that have happened and from things as they exist and from all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive, and you make it alive, and if you make it well enough, you give it immortality. That is why you write and for no other reason that you know of. But what about all the reasons that no one knows?
View quote | Quotes about Creativity

God knows people who are paid to have attitudes toward things, professional critics, make me sick; camp following eunuchs of literature. They won't even whore. They're all virtuous and sterile. And how well meaning and high minded. But they're all camp followers.
View quote | Quotes about Critics and Criticism

All the critics who could not make their reputations by discovering you are hoping to make them by predicting hopefully your approaching impotence, failure and general drying up of natural juices. Not a one will wish you luck or hope that you will keep on writing unless you have political affiliations in which case these will rally around and speak of you and Homer, Balzac, Zola and Link Steffens.
View quote | Quotes about Critics and Criticism

Decadence is a difficult word to use since it has become little more than a term of abuse applied by critics to anything they do not yet understand or which seems to differ from their moral concepts.
View quote | Quotes about Decadence

A man can be destroyed but not defeated.
View quote | Quotes about Defeat

That terrible mood of depression of whether it's any good or not is what is known as The Artist's Reward.
View quote | Quotes about Depression

Actually if a writer needs a dictionary he should not write. He should have read the dictionary at least three times from beginning to end and then have loaned it to someone who needs it. There are only certain words which are valid and similes (bring me my dictionary) are like defective ammunition (the lowest thing I can think of at this time).
View quote | Quotes about Dictionaries

I have noticed that doctors who fail in the practice of medicine have a tendency to seek one another's company and aid in consultation. A doctor who cannot take out your appendix properly will recommend you to a doctor who will be unable to remove your tonsils with success.
View quote | Quotes about Doctors

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
View quote | Quotes about Economy and Economics

Some people show evil as a great racehorse shows breeding. They have the dignity of a hard chancre.
View quote | Quotes about Evil

Eschew the monumental. Shun the Epic. All the guys who can paint great big pictures can paint great small ones.
View quote | Quotes about Exaggeration

It's enough for you to do it once for a few men to remember you. But if you do it year after year, then many people remember you and they tell it to their children, and their children and grandchildren remember and, if it concerns books, they can read them. And if it's good enough, it will last as long as there are human beings.
View quote | Quotes about Excellence

You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafés.
View quote | Quotes about Exile

In going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see, you dull and blunt the instrument you write with. But I would rather have it bent and dulled and know I had to put it on the grindstone again and hammer it into shape and put a whetstone to it, and know that I had something to write about, than to have it bright and shining and nothing to say, or smooth and well oiled in the closet, but unused.
View quote | Quotes about Experience

To be a successful father... there's one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don't look at it for the first two years.
View quote | Quotes about Fathers

You know that fiction, prose rather, is possibly the roughest trade of all in writing. You do not have the reference, the old important reference. You have the sheet of blank paper, the pencil, and the obligation to invent truer than things can be true. You have to take what is not palpable and make it completely palpable and also have it seem normal and so that it can become a part of experience of the person who reads it.
View quote | Quotes about Fiction

When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature.
View quote | Quotes about Fiction

I'm not going to get into the ring with Tolstoy.
View quote | Quotes about Fights and Fighting

Somebody just back of you while you are fishing is as bad as someone looking over your shoulder while you write a letter to your girl.
View quote | Quotes about Fishing

There is no friend as loyal as a book
View quote | Quotes about Friends and Friendship

My attitude toward punctuation is that it ought to be as conventional as possible. The game of golf would lose a good deal if croquet mallets and billiard cues were allowed on the putting green. You ought to be able to show that you can do it a good deal better than anyone else with the regular tools before you have a license to bring in your own improvements.
View quote | Quotes about Grammar

To me heaven would be a big bull ring with me holding two barrera seats and a trout stream outside that no one else was allowed to fish in and two lovely houses in the town; one where I would have my wife and children and be monogamous and love them truly and well and the other where I would have my nine beautiful mistresses on nine different floors.
View quote | Quotes about Heaven

You write a book like that you're fond of over the years, then you see that happen to it, it's like pissing in your father's beer.
View quote | Quotes about Hollywood

When you have shot one bird flying you have shot all birds flying. They are all different and they fly in different ways but the sensation is the same and the last one is as good as the first.
View quote | Quotes about Hunting

All things truly wicked start from an innocence.
View quote | Quotes about Innocence

That is what we are supposed to do when we are at our best --make it all up --but make it up so truly that later it will happen that way.
View quote | Quotes about Invention and Inventor

Personal columnists are jackals and no jackal has been known to live on grass once he had learned about meat -- no matter who killed the meat for him.
View quote | Quotes about Journalism and Journalists

There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man's life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.
View quote | Quotes about Learning

Or don't you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something.
View quote | Quotes about Letters

Every man's life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.
View quote | Quotes about Life and Living

I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.
View quote | Quotes about Listening

You know lots of criticism is written by characters who are very academic and think it is a sign you are worthless if you make jokes or kid or even clown. I wouldn't kid Our Lord if he was on the cross. But I would attempt a joke with him if I ran into him chasing the money changers out of the temple.
View quote | Quotes about Literary Criticism

How simple the writing of literature would be if it were only necessary to write in another way what has been well written. It is because we have had such great writers in the past that a writer is driven far out past where he can go, out to where no one can help him.
View quote | Quotes about Literature

All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.
View quote | Quotes about Literature

All you can be sure about in a political-minded writer is that if his work should last you will have to skip the politics when you read it. Many of the so-called politically enlisted writers change their politics frequently . Perhaps it can be respected as a form of the pursuit of happiness.
View quote | Quotes about Literature

Now a writer can make himself a nice career while he is alive by espousing a political cause, working for it, making a profession of believing in it, and if it wins he will be very well placed. All politics is a matter of working hard without reward, or with a living wage for a time, in the hope of booty later. A man can be a Fascist or a Communist and if his outfit gets in he can get to be an ambassador or have a million copies of his books printed by the Government or any of the other rewards the boys dream about.
View quote | Quotes about Literature

The hardest thing to do is to write straight honest prose on human beings. First you have to know the subject; then you have to know how to write. Both take a lifetime to learn, and anybody is cheating who takes politics as a way out. All the outs are too easy, and the thing itself is too hard to do.
View quote | Quotes about Literature

There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.
View quote | Quotes about Literature

Madame, it is an old word and each one takes it new and wears it out himself. It is a word that fills with meaning as a bladder with air and the meaning goes out of it as quickly. It may be punctured as a bladder is punctured and patched and blown up again and if you have not had it does not exist for you. All people talk of it, but those who have had it are marked by it, and I would not wish to speak of it further since of all things it is the most ridiculous to talk of and only fools go through it many times.
View quote | Quotes about Love

Only one marriage I regret. I remember after I got that marriage license I went across from the license bureau to a bar for a drink. The bartender said, What will you have, sir? And I said, A glass of hemlock.
View quote | Quotes about Marriage

I don't like to write like God. It is only because you never do it, though, that the critics think you can't do it.
View quote | Quotes about Modesty

What is moral is what you feel good after, and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.
View quote | Quotes about Morality

Here is the piece. If you can't say fornicate can you say copulate or if not that can you say co-habit? If not that would have to say consummate I suppose. Use your own good taste and judgment.
View quote | Quotes about Obscenity

A beautiful vacuum filled with wealthy monogamists, all powerful and members of the best families all drinking themselves to death.
View quote | Quotes about Paradise

I've seen a lot of patriots and they all died just like anybody else if it hurt bad enough and once they were dead their patriotism was only good for legends; it was bad for their prose and made them write bad poetry. If you are going to be a great patriot i.e. loyal to any existing order of government (not one who wishes to destroy the existing for something better) you want to be killed early if your life and works won't stink.
View quote | Quotes about Patriotism

The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.
View quote | Quotes about People, Other

Man is not made for defeat.
View quote | Quotes about Potential

Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada as it is in nada. Give us this nada our daily nada and nada us our nada as we nada our nadas and nada us not into nada but deliver us from nada; pues nada. Hail nothing full of nothing, nothing is with thee.
View quote | Quotes about Prayer

When you give power to an executive you do not know who will be filling that position when the time of crisis comes.
View quote | Quotes about Public Office

Having books published is very destructive to writing. It is even worse than making love too much. Because when you make love too much at least you get a damned clarte that is like no other light. A very clear and hollow light.
View quote | Quotes about Publishing and Publishers

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end
View quote | Quotes about Purpose

I still need more healthy rest in order to work at my best. My health is the main capital I have and I want to administer it intelligently.
View quote | Quotes about Recreation

Retirement is the ugliest word in the language.
View quote | Quotes about Retirement

The rich were dull and they drank too much or they played too much backgammon. They were dull and they were repetitious. He remembered poor Julian and his romantic awe of them and how he had started a story once that began, The very rich are different from you and me. And how someone had said to Julian, Yes, they have more money.
View quote | Quotes about Riches

They say the seeds of what we will do are in all of us, but it always seemed to me that in those who make jokes in life the seeds are covered with better soil and with a higher grade of manure.
View quote | Quotes about Sense of Humor

My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way.
View quote | Quotes about Simplicity

Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter's honor.
View quote | Quotes about Sports

Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.
View quote | Quotes about Story and Story-Telling

I might say that what amateurs call a style is usually only the unavoidable awkwardnesses in first trying to make something that has not heretofore been made.
View quote | Quotes about Style

Survival, with honor, that outmoded and all-important word, is as difficult as ever and as all-important to a writer. Those who do not last are always more beloved since no one has to see them in their long, dull, unrelenting, no-quarter-given-and-no-quarter-received, fights that they make to do something as they believe it should be done before they die. Those who die or quit early and easy and with every good reason are preferred because they are understandable and human. Failure and well-disguised cowardice are more human and more beloved.
View quote | Quotes about Survival

I've tried to reduce profanity but I reduced so much profanity when writing the book that I'm afraid not much could come out. Perhaps we will have to consider it simply as a profane book and hope that the next book will be less profane or perhaps more sacred.
View quote | Quotes about Swearing

There isn't any symbolism. The sea is the sea. The old man is an old man. The boy is a boy and the fish is a fish. The shark are all sharks no better and no worse. All the symbolism that people say is shit. What goes beyond is what you see beyond when you know.
View quote | Quotes about Symbols

Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up.
View quote | Quotes about Travel and Tourism

I know now that there is no one thing that is true -- it is all true.
View quote | Quotes about Truth

There's no one thing that is true. They're all true.
View quote | Quotes about Truth

The age demanded that we dance and jammed us into iron pants. And in the end the age was handed the sort of shit that it demanded.
View quote | Quotes about Twentieth Century

Hesitation increases in relation to risk in equal proportion to age.
View quote | Quotes about Uncertainty

I was always embarrassed by the words sacred, glorious and sacrifice and the expression in vain. We had heard them, sometimes standing in the rain almost out of earshot, so that only the shouted words came through, and had read them, on proclamations that were slapped up by billposters over other proclamations, now for a long time, and I had seen nothing sacred, and the things that were glorious had no glory and the sacrifices were like the stockyards at Chicago if nothing was done with the meat except to bury it.
View quote | Quotes about War

There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.
View quote | Quotes about Widowhood

This wine is too good for toast-drinking, my dear. You don't want to mix emotions up with a wine like that. You lose the taste.
View quote | Quotes about Wine

All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time.
View quote | Quotes about Words

All our words from loose using have lost their edge.
View quote | Quotes about Words

Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don't know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.
View quote | Quotes about Words

The world is a fine place worth the fighting for and I hate very much to leave it.
View quote | Quotes about World

Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer's loneliness, but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

I have tried simply to write the best I can. Sometimes I have good luck and write better than I can.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

They can't yank a novelist like they can a pitcher. A novelist has to go the full nine, even if it kills him.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

A serious writer is not to be confounded with a solemn writer. A serious writer may be a hawk or a buzzard or even a popinjay, but a solemn writer is always a bloody owl.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

Prose is architecture, not interior decoration, and the Baroque is over.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer's radar and all great writers have had it.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

The writer must write what he has to say, not speak it.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
View quote | Quotes about Writers and Writing

Hemingway, Ernest

No biography at present.

99 quotations