News, Notes & Inside Info from a Children’s Book Author

Writers on Writing: Five Quick Quotes

November 25th, 2008 Posted in the writing process

True story: I just found this three-page list of typed quotes on the bottom of my t-shirt drawer. I figure it dates back seven years, from when I was working with my son’s third-grade classroom — and at which point I learned, not coincidentally, that I knew nothing about how to teach writing.

All I had in my bag of tricks was encourage, encourage, encourage.

Anyway, these quotes come mostly from interviews I enjoyed, but also possibly from the supporting research I did. I’ll parcel them out over time in spoonfuls, five per blog entry:

Writing is very difficult and gives me a great deal of pleasure, partly because it is so difficult.” — Maurice Sendak.

“If you work hard on something, and think about it very deeply, new ideas sort of bubble to the surface. I find that while rewriting — even just retyping a page — new things come in that I hadn’t thought about before. Rewriting is important. I don’t think you are finished after only one or two drafts. Rewriting is not only polishing sentences; it is also a process of searching for new things to improve your story.” — Bernard Waber.

“I revise and revise and revise. I’m so picky. Yonder took me seven years to write. That book meant a lot to me. I wanted it to be perfect.” — Tony Johnston.

“Writing a story is like going down a path in the woods. You follow the path. You don’t worry about getting lost. You just go.” — Jan Brett.

“You never want to write about a perfect person. Look at Ramona Quimby. She’s not perfect — but it’s the failings that remind us of ourselves. That’s what builds character.” — Patricia Reilly Giff.

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