Toni Morrison? Benjamin Disraeli? Mickey Spillane? C. S. Lewis? J. R. R. Tolkien? Janet Fitch? Ann Patchett? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: The prominent American editor, writer, and educator Toni Morrison who authored the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Beloved” has been credited with an exhilarating remark about the creative process:
If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
I have not been able to find a citation. Would you please help?
Quote Investigator: In 1981 Toni Morrison spoke at the annual meeting of the Ohio Arts Council, and “The Cincinnati Enquirer” reported some of her comments. Emphasis added to excerpts by QI: 1
“Writing to me is an advanced and slow form of reading. If you find a book you really want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
“It took me a long time to do a short book; a long time to leave the world of language and the building up and shaping of the book, but once it began to float I knew I could not not do it . . .
Morrison’s original phrasing differed slightly from the popular modern version of the quotation.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1981 September 27, The Cincinnati Enquirer, Writing Is Third Career For Morrison by Ellen Brown (Entertainment Reporter), Quote Page F11, Column 1, Cincinnati, Ohio. (Newspapers_com) ↩