Mincemeat: on writing
  "Kill your darlings."
William Faulkner

Writing is Rewriting

Sometimes when people ask me, "Was your second book easier to write than your first?" what I hear them actually asking is, "Iím writing a book. Is it always this hard?" The simple answer—yes. Every story I tackle is a struggle to tell. I havenít discovered any shortcuts that miraculously make it a simple, painless thing to do.

No shortcuts, but this is the secret to making it a story worth reading—rewrites.

These quotes struck me as delightfully true. May they hearten you in your own struggle.


"Convince yourself that you are working in clay, not marble, on paper, not eternal bronze: let that first sentence be as stupid as it wishes. No one will rush out and print it as it stands."
Jacques Barzun

"What I had to face, the very bitter lesson that everyone who wants to write has got to learn, was that a thing may in itself be the finest piece of writing one has ever done, and yet have absolutely no place in the manuscript one hopes to publish."
Thomas Wolfe

"I have rewritten--often several times--every word I have ever written. My pencils outlast their erasers."
Vladimir Nabokov

"I think the only person a writer has an obligation to is himself. If what I write doesn't fulfill something in me, if I don't honestly feel it's the best I can do, then I'm miserable."
Truman Capote

"I have never thought of myself as a good writer. Anyone who wants reassurance of that should read one of my first drafts. But I'm one of the world's great rewriters."
James A. Michener

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly."
C.J. Cherryh

"Writing is rewriting. A writer must learn to deepen characters, trim writing, intensify scenes. To fall in love with a first draft to the point where one cannot change it is to greatly enhance the prospects of never publishing."
Richard North Patterson

"Books aren't written--they're rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn't quite done it."
Michael Crichton

"Rewriting is like scrubbing the basement floor with a toothbrush."
Pete Murphy

"There are days when the result is so bad that no fewer than five revisions are required. In contrast, when I'm greatly inspired, only four revisions are needed."
John Kenneth Galbraith

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and the lightning bug."
Mark Twain

"There is a difference between a book of two hundred pages from the very beginning, and a book of two hundred pages which is the result of an original eight hundred pages. The six hundred are there. Only you don't see them."
Elie Wiesel

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