Quote Origin: Read, Read, Read. Read Everything—Trash, Classics, Good and Bad, and See How They Do It

William Faulkner? Stephen King? R. M. Allen? Lavon Rascoe? Lauren Passell? Ben Yagoda? Anonymous? Question for Quote Investigator: A prominent novelist was once asked for advice by an aspiring author. The scribe offered the following crucial guidance: Read, read, read. Read everything. Highbrow, middlebrow, and lowbrow material were all deemed acceptable choices for scrutiny. Would …

I Do Not Know What I Think Until I Read What I’m Writing

Flannery O’Connor? Graham Wallas? E. M. Forster? Inger Stevens? August Heckscher? Paul Samuelson? Shirley MacLaine? Joan Didion? E. L. Doctorow? John Gregory Dunne? Edward Albee? Wendy Wasserstein? William Faulkner? Virginia Hamilton Adair? Stephen King? Question for Quote Investigator: The process of writing helps to clarify thoughts and ideas. For example, some novelists do not outline …

The Dictionary Feud: Faulkner versus Hemingway

William Faulkner? Ernest Hemingway? Apocryphal? Dear Quote Investigator: Two major writers of the twentieth century disagreed sharply about the type of vocabulary that was advantageous in literary works. Apparently, Faulkner said that Hemingway had “no courage” because he tightly circumscribed his word choice. Hemingway punched back by stating that he did not need “ten-dollar words”. …

Writers Are Just Schmucks with Underwoods

Jack L. Warner? Bill Davidson? Samuel Goldwyn? Louis B. Mayer? Harry Cohn? Apocryphal? Insult: Schmuck? Schlep? Schnook? Dear Quote Investigator: The attitude of Hollywood producers toward writers has been epitomized by the following callous remark: A writer is a schmuck with an Underwood. The Underwood Typewriter Company manufactured the best writing implements when the statement …

I Only Write When Inspiration Strikes. Fortunately It Strikes at Nine Every Morning

William Faulkner? Peter De Vries? Herman Wouk? W. Somerset Maugham? Jane Yolen? Raymond Chandler? Anonymous? Dear Quote Investigator: As a writer I find the following quotation about motivation both amusing and invigorating: I write when I’m inspired, and I see to it that I’m inspired at nine o’clock every morning. I have seen these words …

A Man Is a Fool If He Drinks Before He Reaches Fifty, and a Fool If He Doesn’t Drink Afterward

Frank Lloyd Wright? William Faulkner? The Elder Gross? Charles Seiberling? Charles Douville Coburn? Anonymous? Dear Quote Investigator: The celebrated and innovative architect Frank Lloyd Wright is credited with the following remark about alcohol consumption: A man is a fool if he drinks before he reaches the age of 50, and a fool if he doesn’t …

They Haven’t Done Anything to My Book. It’s Right There on the Shelf

Raymond Chandler? James M. Cain? Alan Moore? William S. Burroughs? Larry Niven? Stephen King? Elmore Leonard? William Faulkner? Owen Sheers? Dear Quote Investigator: I have heard the following anecdote told about Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Stephen King, and Elmore Leonard. A journalist once visited the house of a popular author who had sold the …

Good Artists Copy; Great Artists Steal

Steve Jobs? Pablo Picasso? T. S. Eliot? W. H. Davenport Adams? Lionel Trilling? Igor Stravinsky? William Faulkner? Apocryphal? Dear Quote Investigator: The gifted entrepreneur Steve Jobs made some controversial comments about innovation during his career. He expressed strong agreement with the following aphorism which he ascribed to the famous painter Pablo Picasso: Good artists copy; …