Shirley Jackson

“I cannot find any patience for those people who believe that you start writing when you sit down at your desk and pick up your pen and finish writing when you put down your pen again; a writer is always writing, seeing everything through a thin mist of words, fitting swift little descriptions to everything he sees, always noticing. Just as I believe that a painter cannot sit down to his morning coffee without noticing what color it is, so a writer cannot see an odd little gesture without putting a verbal description to it, and ought never to let a moment go by undescribed.”

—Shirley Jackson

Flannery O'Connor

“A story is a way to say something that can't be said any other way, and it takes every word in the story to say what the meaning is. You tell a story because a statement would be inadequate. When anybody asks what a story is about, the only proper thing is to tell them to read the story. The meaning of fiction is not abstract meaning but experienced meaning.”

—Flannery O’Connor

H.H. Munro (Saki)

“It occurred to me that I would like to be a poet. The chief qualification, I understand is that you must be born. Well, I hunted up my birth certificate, and found that I was all right on that score.”

—H.H. Munro (Saki)

Antonya Nelson

“Fiction ought to announce the problems, dramatize the problems, display them. Yet offer no set answer. An answer would solve the mystery. Writing fiction, for me, is about putting on paper my obsessive interest in something mysterious. I may figure out the source of the mystery, the things that brought some action or image to my mind, but to make an equation of it would ruin the story.”

—Antonya Nelson

JM. Coetzee

“The masters of information have forgotten about poetry, where words may have a meaning quite different from what the lexicon says, where the metaphoric spark is always one jump ahead of the decoding function, where another, unforeseen reading is always possible.”

—J.M. Coetzee

Taiye Selasi

“The big ideas always come in flashes. I don't really craft stories that much. I genuinely don't know where these people come from and I've often wondered if writing is just a socially acceptable form of madness.”

—Taiye Selasi

John McGahern

“I think that each of us inhabits a private world that others cannot see. The only difference between the writer and the reader is that the writer is able to dramatise that private world.”

—John McGahern

Nami Mun

“I just have to come clean and admit I am an extremely, painfully slow writer. I have this unfortunate - or fortunate, I'm not sure which is correct - habit of editing while I'm writing which everyone tells me that I shouldn't do that. But that's just the way I write and I think it's important to stay true to your own writing style and momentum.”

—Nami Mun

Ian McEwan

“I believe the novella is the perfect form of prose fiction. It is the beautiful daughter of a rambling, bloated ill-shaven giant (but a giant who's a genius on his best days).”

—Ian McEwan

Min Jin lee

“I like making things. I enjoy putting words and images on a blank space. There should be joy in the writing itself because parts of it are so challenging and lonesome. I take great pleasure in reading, researching, and interviewing. I enjoy forming my sentences and revising them to make them clean.”

—Min Jin Lee

Sharon Olds

“Poems come from ordinary experiences and objects, I think. Out of memory - a dress I lent my daughter on her way back to college; a newspaper photograph of war; a breast self-exam; the tooth fairy; Calvinist parents who beat up their children; a gesture of love; seeing oneself naked over age 50 in a set of bright hotel bathroom mirrors.”

—Sharon Olds

Louise Glück

“I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence. The unsaid, for me, exerts great power: often I wish an entire poem could be made in this vocabulary. It is analogous to the unseen.”

—Louise Glück