Sunday 8 January 2023


We look on past ages with condescension, as a mere preparation for us... but what if we are a mere after-glow of them? (JG Farrell)

I never weary of great churches. It is my favorite kind of mountain scenery. Mankind was never so happily inspired as when it made a cathedral. (Robert Louis Stevenson. Acknowledgments to my reader Toma who quoted this in a comment here, five years ago. I agree with Stevenson.)

Celestino had noticed in Paris that any innovation whatsoever, sooner or later, without fail – literally without fail – turned out to have been copied from the Americans. As a result he had come to the conclusion that the French had lost the art of invention and creation. But it was the same in Madrid. This servility went even further in that it was no longer a question of copying the Americans but of not offending them. In Spain, as in France, and no doubt elsewhere, things that were good in themselves, and long-established in the country, were abolished with the stroke of a pen, because they displeased American tourists – and heaven knows what tourists, heaven knows what specimens of superior humanity! (Henry de Montherlant
Chaos and Night,1963.)

Henry de Montherlant in Chaos and Night mentions (but I can't find where because the book closed in my hands) that the Spanish are very punctual and mentions a Spaniard who, before informing a man that he had been sentenced to death, apologised for being late.

She was thinking: “When does life start?” … Because she knew that she’d been born nearly thirty years ago, but she wanted to know when her life would begin: she hadn’t seen any signs of it yet. (
Diana Abu Jaber, Arabian Jazz, 1993)

To be the first generation in this country, with another culture always looming over you, you are the ones who are born homeless, bedouins, not your immigrant parents. (Ibid.)

Professional writing is like old age – not for sissies.

You have to understand that it’s a business more than an art, and it’s a craft more than an art (which, as Raymond Chandler said, just sometimes happens, like red hair).

I will say this. If you are young, start writing now. I’ve had the career that I’ve had because I started sending out manuscripts in junior high. I wrote three novels in high school and learned about the craft, by doing, and about the business, by getting rejection slips. Everything I wrote in college I sold. That was because I had learned my trade by the time I got to college.

For late bloomers, I would invoke William Faulkner, who reportedly gave an after-dinner address to a group of writing students by asking them why they weren’t home writing. 
(Max Allan Collins)

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