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On Writing On Writing by Eudora Welty
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On Writing Quotes Showing 1-30 of 69
“All serious daring starts from within.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“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.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“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?”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“For the source of the short story is usually lyrical. And all writers speak from, and speak to, emotions eternally the same in all of us: love, pity, terror do not show favorites or leave any of us out.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“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.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“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.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Writing is an expression of the writer's own peculiar personality, could not help being so. Yet in reading great works one feels that the finished piece transcends the personal. All writers great and small must sometimes have felt that they have become part of what they wrote even more than it still remains a part of them.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Art, though, 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; in particular, the novel.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Human life is fiction's only theme.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Both reading and writing are experiences--lifelong-- in the course of which we who encounter words used in certain ways are persuaded by them to be brought mind and heart within the presence, the power, of the imagination.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“It's all right, I want to say to the students who write to me, for things to be what they appear to be, and for words to mean what they say. It's all right, too, for words and appearances to mean more than one thing--ambiguity is a fact of life.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“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 about--these 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.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“The novelist works neither to correct nor to condone, not at all to comfort, but to make what's told alive.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“We do need to bring to our writing, over and over again, all the abundance we possess. To be able, to be ready, to enter into the minds and hearts of our own people, all of them, to comprehend them (us) and then to make characters and plots in stories that in honesty and with honesty reveal them (ourselves) to us, in whatever situation we live through in our own times: this is the continuing job, and it's no harder now than it ever was, I suppose. 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”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“No blur of inexactness, no cloud of vagueness, is allowable in good writing; from the first seeing to the last putting down, there must be steady lucidity and uncompromise of purpose.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“The challenge to writers today, I think, is not to disown any part of our heritage. Whatever our theme in writing, it is old and tried. Whatever our place, it has been visited by the stranger, it will never be new again. It is only the vision that can be new; but that is enough.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Fiction shows us the past as well as the present moment in mortal light; it is an art served by the indelibility of our memory, and one empowered by a sharp and prophetic awareness of what is ephemeral. It is by the ephemeral that our feeling is so strongly aroused for what endures, or strives to endure.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Henry James said there isn't any difference between "the English novel" and "the American novel" since there are only two kinds of novels at all, the good and the bad.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“On the train I saw that world passing my window. It was when I came to see it was I who was passing that my self-centered childhood was over. But it was not until I began to write, that I found the world out there revealing, because memory had become attached to seeing, love had added itself to discovery, and because I recognized in my own continuing longing to keep going, the need I carried inside myself to know - the apprehension, first, and then the passion, to connect myself to it. Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it. This is, of course, simply saying that the outside world is the vital component of my inner life. My imagination takes its strength and guides its direction from what I see and hear and learn and feel and remember of my living world. But I was to learn slowly that both these worlds, outer and inner, were different from what they seemed to me in the beginning.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“It's the form it takes when it comes out the other side, of course, that gives a story something unique--its life. The story, in the way it has arrived at what it is on the page, has been something learned, by dint of the story's challenge and the work that rises to meet it--a process as uncharted for the writer as if it had never been attempted before.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Daydreaming had started me on the way; but story writing, once I was truly in its grip, took me and shook me awake.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“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 it's hole.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“The frame through which I viewed the world changed too, over time. Greater than scene, I came to see, is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily - perhaps not possibly - chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“The art that speaks [truth] most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“My father did not bring it up, but of course I knew that he had another reason to worry about my decision to write. Though he was a reader, he was not a lover of fiction, because fiction is not true, and for that flaw it was forever inferior to fact. If reading fiction was a waste of time, so was the writing of it. Why is it, I wonder, that humor didn't count? Wodehouse, for one, whom both of us loved, was a flawless fiction writer.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“I learned from the age of two or three, that any room in our house, at any time of day, was there to read in, or to be read to. It had been startling and disappointing for me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming up of themselves like grass.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“Our Victrola stood in the diningroom. I was allowed to climb onto the seat of a diningroom chair to wind it, start the record turning, and set the needle playing. In a second I'd jumped to the floor, to spin or march around the room as the music called for - now there were all the other records I could play too. I skinned back onto the chair just in time to lift the needle at the end, stop the record and turn it over, then change the needle. Winding up, dancing, being cocked to start and stop the record, was of course, all in one the act of listening. Movement must be at the very heart of listening.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing
“I've always been shy physically. This in part tended to keep me from rushing into things, including relationships, headlong. Not rushing headlong, though I may have wanted to, but beginning to write stories about people, I drew near slowly; noting and guessing, apprehending, hoping, drawing my eventual conclusions out of my own heart, I did venture closer to where I wanted to go.”
Eudora Welty, On Writing

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