“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
“All writers are lunatics.”
~The character Fenoglio—a writer himself—in Cornelia Funke’s Inkspell.
As you can tell, I am somewhat addicted to quotes, to the point where I’ve written them down in a silva rerum, the medieval Latin term used for the antiquated practice of keeping a commonplace book. But these first two quotes say something that I’m rather proud of, as a writer myself. Our tribe are all a little bit crazy. But I believe it’s precisely because we writers perceive and respond to the world in a twisted fashion that we are able to see through to the heart of things, when others perhaps do not. At least I like to think so.
The first two are the epigraphs of my novels.
From Cheshire Moon: “Without silence, words lose their meaning.”
From The Door in the Lake: “Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits, nevertheless, calmly licking its chops.”
“Wicked people never have time for reading,” Dewey said. “It’s one of the reasons for their wickedness.”
~The character Dewey Denouement on p. 226 of Lemony Snicket’s [aka Daniel Handler] The Penultimate Peril.
“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”
~Hannah Arendt, historian
“Our species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.”
~Mary Catherine Bateson, anthropologist
“The fact of storytelling hints at a fundamental human unease, hints at human imperfection. Where there is perfection there is no story to tell.”
~Ben Okri, Nigerian poet born 1959
“Human kind cannot bear very much reality.”
~TS Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral
Finally, here is the opening paragraph of a book that my father gave me when I was eleven. Jackson’s book scared the bejeezus out of me, but it also inspired me to write—because we all need to dream, and writers are the modern-day shamans who help us to do that.
“No live organism can continue for long to exist under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
~Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House