“So where do you start when you want to start your life again?”

– Douglas Coupland, Hey Nostradamus! (2004)

“To be an artist — actually, to be a human being in these times — it’s all difficult. … What matters is to know what you want and pursue it.”

– Patti Smith

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

– Joan Didion, The White Album 1979



It’s the second-to-last Monday I will spend at this job (next Monday being a stat holiday).

I’ve been near-sleepless all weekend with barely a cap kept on the boiling pot of nerves, excitement, and to-do lists.

Perseverence is key.

Deep breath.

"I drank a bottle of wine for company."

– Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises

"I never trust anyone who's more excited about success than about doing the thing they want to be successful at."

– the immortal wisdom of XKCD

hungry, hungry internet

So I wrote a wonderful (trust me) post about this Jem doll that I got one Christmas in my wee years. However, the Internet, hungry little beast it is, ate it. No idea what happened.

The internet did to my post what this monkey is doing to this dog.

Later, I shall endeavour to recreate the magic. But, for now, a little taste…


hot hamm water


to quote or not to quote

There’s some kind of weird po-mo pastiche education to be garnered from quotations. It’s as if we get this window in the soul of the speaker, but really, to be cynical, what we are getting is a quaint aphorism devoid of context. For instance, you hear people quote Polonius’s “Neither a borrower nor a lender be” advice to Laertes from Hamlet all the time, but you never really sense that they’ve thought at all about Polonius’s character here and what a farce he can be. Anyway, with that note, here are some quotes on writing that I happened across through the blessings of the Google God, and only because I completely identify with them, context or not.

Get Started

  • “The easiest thing to do on earth is not write.”
    (William Goldman)
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials. It’s a matter of doing everything you can to avoid writing, until it is about four in the morning and you reach the point where you have to write.”
    (Paul Rudnick)
  • “The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair.”
    (Mary Heaton Vorse)
  • “One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent many months on a first paragraph, and once I get it, the rest just comes out very easily.”
    (Gabriel Garcia Marquez)
  • “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
    (Mark Twain)


Capture Ideas

  • “I carry a notebook with me everywhere. But that’s only the first step. Ideas are easy. It’s the execution of ideas that really separates the sheep from the goats.”
    (Sue Grafton)
  • “In writing, there is first a creating stage–a time you look for ideas, you explore, you cast around for what you want to say. Like the first phase of building, this creating stage is full of possibilities.”
    (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • “Actually ideas are everywhere. It’s the paperwork, that is, sitting down and thinking them into a coherent story, trying to find just the right words, that can and usually does get to be labor.”
    (Fred Saberhagen)
  • “Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas. Fill the lacunae of inspiration by tidily copying out what is already written.”
    (Walter Benjamin)
  • “I’ve often said that there’s no such thing as writer’s block; the problem is idea block. When I find myself frozen–whether I’m working on a brief passage in a novel or brainstorming about an entire book–it’s usually because I’m trying to shoehorn an idea into the passage or story where it has no place.”
    (Jeffery Deaver)


Cope with the Badness

  • “We can’t be as good as we’d want to, so the question then becomes, how do we cope with our own badness?”
    (Nick Hornby)
  • “You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
    (Octavia Butler)
  • “People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.”
    (Anna Quindlen)
  • “If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word.”
    (Margaret Atwood)
  • “Don’t get it right, just get it written.”
    (James Thurber)
  • “What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat.’ And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'”
    (Maya Angelou)
  • “I think writer’s block is simply the dread that you are going to write something horrible. But as a writer, I believe that if you sit down at the keys long enough, sooner or later something will come out.”
    (Roy Blount, Jr.)
  • “Lower your standards and keep writing.”
    (William Stafford)


Establish a Routine

  • “I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”
    (William Faulkner)
  • “And I’m a slow writer: five, six hundred words is a good day. That’s the reason it took me 20 years to write those million and a half words of the Civil War.”
    (Shelby Foote)
  • “I set myself 600 words a day as a minimum output, regardless of the weather, my state of mind or if I’m sick or well.”
    (Arthur Hailey)
  • “All through my career I’ve written 1,000 words a day–even if I’ve got a hangover. You’ve got to discipline yourself if you’re professional. There’s no other way.”
    (J.G. Ballard)
  • “I write 2,000 words a day when I write. It sometimes takes three hours, it sometimes takes five.”
    (Nicholas Sparks)
  • “I have to get into a sort of zone. It has something to do with an inability to concentrate, which is the absolute bottom line of writing.”
    (Stephen Fry)
  • “Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer.”
    (Barbara Kingsolver)



  • “If you want to write, write it. That’s the first rule.”
    (Robert Parker)
  • “My block was due to two overlapping factors: laziness and lack of discipline.”
    (Mary Garden)
  • “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining–researching–talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”
    (E. L. Doctorow)
  • “If you are a genius, you’ll make your own rules, but if not–and the odds are against it–go to your desk, no matter what your mood, face the icy challenge of the paper–write.”
    (J. B. Priestly)
  • “To write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write is to write.”
    (Gertrude Stein)
  • “The writer’s duty is to keep on writing.”
    (William Styron)
  • “Read a lot. Write a lot. Have fun.”
    (Daniel Pinkwater)

Compiled by Richard Nordquist

lower your standards and keep writing

(quote by William Stafford)

It’s a running joke amongst my family members that during some kind of family get-together, whenever something goes down which I will one day recount to a therapist, I’m getting my best material. I think the general consensus is that while they giggle and spill their drinks, and I sit there staring with some look of profound horror/disbelief splashed across my face, I’m “writing.”

This is true.

Only I’m usually far too traumatized to actually write about it.

Recently, I’ve decided that since I am too poor to afford therapy, I will have to write about it. Thus, expect a lot more stories about my family up here. There’s a good draw, I’ll be honest.

“We can’t be as good as we’d want to, so the question then becomes, how do we cope with our own badness?”
(Nick Hornby)