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Since you like Dickens:
IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
A Tale of Two Cities
Writing is a dog's life, but the only life worth living.
Write without pay until somebody offers to pay.
A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
Nothing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market.
Write down the thoughts of the moment. Those that come unsought for are commonly the most valuable.
The need to write comes from the need to make sense of one's life and discover one's usefulness.
Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can escape the madness, the melancholia, the panic fear which is inherent in the human situation.
Graham Greene, Introduction to Collected Stories
My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and the world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand gave her no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.
Dickens, Great Expectations
And could I look upon her [Miss Havisham] without compassion, seeing her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world?
Dickens, Great Expectations, Ch. 49
So throughout life our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
n the presence of some people we inevitably depart from ourselves: we are inaccurate, say things we do not feel, and talk nonsense. When we get home we are conscious that we have made fools of ourselves. Never go near these people.
Well, youth is the period of assumed personalities and disguises. It is the time of the sincerely insincere.
V. S. Pritchett
In all professions each affects a look and an exterior to appear what he wishes the world to believe that he is. Thus we may say that the whole world is made up of appearances.
Francois Duc De La Rochefoucauld
Composition is, for the most part, an effort of slow diligence and steady perseverance, to which the mind is dragged by necessity or resolution, and from which the attention is every moment starting to more delightful amusements.
Dr. Samuel Johnson
Do not keep on with the mockery of friendship after the substance is gone--but part, while you can part friends. Bury the carcass of friendship: it is not worth embalming.
It's no good trying to keep up old friendships. It's painful for both sides. The fact is, one grows out of people, and the only thing is to face it.
A relationship is like a shark: it has to constantly keep moving forward or it dies. And I'm afraid what we've got here is a dead shark.
An insincere and evil friend is more to be feared than a wild beast; a wild beast will wound your body, but an evil friend will wound your mind.
People should learn to see and so avoid all danger. Just as a wise man keeps away from mad dogs, so one should not make friends with evil men.
But he could risk it, he even felt like giving it [the earth] a fair active chance just to show him, prove what it could do if it wanted to try. And in fact, as soon as he thought that, it seemed to him he could feel the Mink Snopes that had had to spend so much of his life just having unnecessary bother and trouble, beginning to creep, seep, flow easy as sleeping; he could almost watch it, following all the little grass blades and tiny roots, the little holes the worms made, down and down into the ground already full of the folks that had the trouble but were free now, so that it was just the ground and the dirt that had to bother and worry and anguish with the passions and hopes and skeers, the justice and the injustice and the griefs, leaving the folks themselves easy now, all mixed and jumbled up comfortable and easy so wouldn't nobody even know or even care who was which any more, himself among them, equal to any, good as any, brave as any, being inextricable from, anonymous with all of them: the beautiful, the splendid, the proud and the brave, right on up to the very top itself among the shining phantoms and dreams which are the milestones of the long human recording--Helen and the bishops, the kings and the unhomed angels, the scornful and graceless seraphim.
William Faulkner, The Mansion
The absence of suffering, the satisfaction of needs, and following upon that, freedom in the choice of occupation, that is, of one's manner of life, seemed to Pierre the highest and most certain happiness of man. Only here and now for the first time in his life Pierre fully appreciated the enjoyment of eating when he was hungry, of drinking when he was thirsty, of sleep when he was sleepy, of warmth when he was cold, of talking to a fellow creature when he wanted to talk and to hear men's voices. The satisfaction of his needs--good food, cleanliness, freedom--seemed to Pierre now that he was deprived of them to be perfect happiness; and the choice of his occupation, that is, of his manner of life now that this choice was so limited, seemed to him such an easy matter that he forgot that a superfluity of the conveniences of life destroys all happiness in satisfying the physical needs, while a great freedom in the choice of occupation, that freedom which education, wealth, and position in society had given him, makes the choice of occupations exceedingly difficult, and destroys the very desire and possibility of occupation.
War and Peace, Part Thirteen, XII
Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!
Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.
Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.
Oscar Wilde, Ballad of Reading Gaol
The voices woke Amy, and, lying in her bed, she perceived vaguely the pitiful corruption of the adult world; how crude and frail it was, like a piece of worn burlap, patched with stupidities and mistakes, useless and ugly, and yet they never saw its worthlessness, and when you pointed it out to them, they were indignant.
John Cheever, "The Sorrows of Gin"
You have the right to work, but for the work's sake only. You have no right to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be your motive in working.
Work done with anxiety about results is far inferior to work done without such anxiety, in the calm of self-surrender. (44)
It is better to do your own duty, however imperfectly, than to assume the duties of another person, however successfully. Prefer to die doing your own duty: the duty of another will bring you into great spiritual danger. (54)
You must learn what kind of work to do, what kind of work to avoid, and how to reach a state of calm detachment from your work. (60)
One of my favorite sayings is the oft-misquoted "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it," by George Santayana. I also love the Rolling Stones lyric about "You can't always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you might just get what you need."
I have been collecting quotations in a computer file for years, and I have over two hundred pages of short ones and long ones. It makes an interesting hobby, and a good quotation can be very useful to a writer when he needs it. Here is one of my favorites:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.
-Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
One quote I enjoy is from a Bob Marley song. The line is:
Free yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds.
The primary meaning of the line is clear...or seems so at first. It turns out, however, that the concept of mental slavery is rather complex psychologically, even while it is simple (and potent and inspiring) on a more political level.
It's interesting to consider the various meanings of the term and to consider also the modes by which mental slavery might be inflicted/generated/promulgated, etc. by culture (in ways that may be accidental or intentional).
And we have to ask also, what exactly does it mean to free our minds? Is this possible given the nature of language? Again, the political content of the message is obvious and clear, but there are deeper psychological and social questions raised that go beyond the obvious message of the line.
It is very hard to choose a favorite quotation. My favorites depend on my mood. When I am frustrated with the government, my favorite quote is this one from Orwell.
In a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act.
When I am feeling introspective, my favorite quote is this one from Dickens's David Copperfield.
WHETHER I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. (ch 1, the first sentence)
I think the words that speak to us vary depending on where we are in our lives. Sometimes we like quotes about love. Somtimes we like quotes about loss. Sometimes we like quotes that express our frustration. Sometimes we like quotes that express our fears.
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