Gertrude Stein’s Quotes about Writing

I think that Mrs. Stein’s style was overly repetitive and that her disregard for punctuation can be confusing, but that doesn’t mean that her insights aren’t useful to authors. What do you think? Can you make good use of them?

“You will write if you will write without thinking of the result in terms of a result, but think of the writing in terms of discovery, which is to say that creation must take place between the pen and the paper, not before in a thought or afterwards in a recasting… It will come if it is there and if you will let it come.”

“It is nice that nobody writes as they talk and that the printed language is different from the spoken. Otherwise, you could not lose yourself in books and of course you do, you completely do.”

“It takes a heap of loafing to write a book.”

“If the communication is perfect, the words have life, and that is all there is to good writing, putting down on the paper words which dance and weep and make love and fight and kiss and perform miracles.”

“A writer should write with his eyes and a painter paint with his ears.”

“If you knew it all it would not be creation but dictation.”

“I really do not know that anything has ever been more exciting than diagramming sentences.”

“The artist works by locating the world in himself”

“If everyone were not so indolent they would realise that beauty is beauty even when it is irritating and stimulating not only when it is accepted and classic.”

“I think one is naturally impressed by anything having a beginning a middle and an ending when one is beginning writing and that it is a natural thing because when one is emerging from adolescence, which is really when one first begins writing one feels that one would not have been one emerging from adolescence if there had not been a beginning and a middle and an ending to anything.”

“I like the feeling of words doing as they want to do and as they have to do.”

“I write for myself and strangers. The strangers, dear Readers, are an afterthought.”

“Sentences are made wonderfully one at a time. Who makes them. Nobody can make them because nobody can what ever they do see. All this makes sentences so clear I know how I like them. What is a sentence mostly what is a sentence. With them a sentence is with us about us all about us we will be willing with what a sentence is. A sentence is that they cannot be carefully there is a doubt about it. The great question is can you think a sentence. What is a sentence. He thought a sentence. Who calls him to come which he did…What is a sentence. A sentence is a duplicate. An exact duplicate is depreciated. Why is a duplicated sentence not depreciated. Because it is a witness. No witnesses are without value.”

“A novel is what you dream in your night sleep. A novel is not waking thoughts although it is written and thought with waking thoughts. But really a novel goes as dreams go in sleeping at night and some dreams are like anything and some dreams are like something and some dreams change and some dreams are quiet and some dreams are not. And some dreams are just what any one would do only a little different always just a little different and that is what a novel is.”

“The painter does not conceive himself as existing in himself, he conceives himself as a reflection of the objects he has put into his pictures and he lives in the reflections of his pictures, a writer, a serious writer, conceives himself as existing by and in himself, he does not at all live in the reflection of his books, to write he must first of all exist in himself, but for a painter to be able to paint, the painting must first of all be done.”

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