10 Quotes on Writing from Well-Known Writers

Who better to look to for quotes on writing than well-known writers. A fan of quotations of any kind, I’ve collected a few on the topic of writing from some of my favorite writers:

E.L. Doctorow

Quote from E.L. Doctorow
Quote from E.L. Doctorow

William Wordsworth

Maya Angelou

Via Writing Sisters
Via Writing Sisters

Anne Lamott

C.S. Lewis

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

Ernest Hemingway

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

Louis L’amour

Via Google Images
Via Google Images

Anne Tyler

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Anton Chekhov

Do you have favorite quotes on writing from writers? If so, feel free to share below. Some of our best writing advice comes from those who’ve gone before us down this pathway called writing.

(Images all via Google; clicking on image will take you to the proper site.)

What Is Creative Nonfiction Anyway?

Creative Nonfiction vs. Memoir
Creative Nonfiction vs. Memoir

As my writing and blogging gained momentum, I would see the phrase “creative nonfiction” used to classify an essay which, to me, was clearly memoir, or a book similarly characterized. For the life of me, I could not understand the need for separation of the two.Until . . .

I began to dig for an explanation of differences between creative nonfiction and memoir. What I learned is vastly important to how I’m refashioning my latest revision.

As I combed the Internet, local libraries, and writing publications, I found an online and in print magazine, Creative Nonfiction. When landing on a new or unfamiliar site, the first place I visit is the “about” section.

To my surprised pleasure, I came upon an article entitled “What is Creative Nonfiction?” written by Lee Gutkind, lovingly referred to by “Vanity Fair”  as the “Godfather behind creative nonfiction.”

Gutkind begins his articlewith the following:

The banner of the magazine I’m proud to have founded and I continue to edit, Creative Nonfiction, defines the genre simply, succinctly, and accurately as “true stories well told.” And that, in essence, is what creative nonfiction is all about.

And Gutkind’s words clarify what creative nonfiction is–“true stories well told.” Aren’t we told to share the truth in our memoirs? Isn’t it the truth we are seeking as we write about our lives?

I suppose I should have been satisfied with Gutkind’s definition, but I kept digging. Discovering a site hosted by Barri Jean Borich, I read with interest her post entitled “What Is Creative Nonfiction?” In her opening paragraph, Borich provided an extension of the answer found in Gutkind’s article:

There are many ways to define the literary genre we call Creative Nonfiction. It is a genre that answers to many different names, depending on how it is packaged and who is doing the defining. Some of these names are: Literary Nonfiction; Narrative Nonfiction; Literary Journalism; Imaginative Nonfiction; Lyric Essay; Personal Essay; Personal Narrative; and Literary Memoir. Creative Nonfiction is even, sometimes, thought of as another way of writing fiction, because of the way writing changes the way we know a subject. (Emphasis added.)

If we take the two definitions and combine them and agree with the simple use of the word “nonfiction” to mean we only write what is true, not fictional, we have the beginnings of creative nonfiction. But what about the word “creative?”

Just because we write nonfiction and tell true stories from our lives’ experiences does not mean we cannot and should not be creative in the process. The best memoirs I have read were filled with creations as delicious as a cold glass of iced tea on a hot summer afternoon. Others took me down dark, painful paths into lives of abuse and suffering, but they created the darkness for me, the reader, to experience and reach and understanding of the writer’s story.

Never let it be said a writer writing creative nonfiction cannot paint a beautiful scene or imagine the garments and buildings of ages past in his/her family’s life.

Even though we write nonfiction, our true stories must be “well told” as Gutkind suggests. And as Borich states a lot of what is written as creative nonfiction “depends on how it is packaged” and “who is doing the defining.”

The only caveat to using your creativity in nonfiction writing is not to stretch the truth of your story.

We cannot overstep our bounds in using creativity to make up incidents which never occurred, or statements never made, or whatever else you could invent.

Are you finding opportunities to “paint” while you write your memoir or some other piece of creative nonfiction? Do you see other ways the two words, “creative” and “nonfiction,” come together to define the genre or form we are writing? Let’s find out in the comments section below.

A Day in the Life | Finds We Make in Our Family History (Episode #6)

Family history can be filled with surprises. Good ones, and some not so good ones. Finds we make in our family history often prove or disprove something we have believed for years.When my mother died in 2001, we found so many surprises among her personal belongings. Who would have believed she’d kept every card she’d ever received from our dad and many of their friends? Every last one of them.

We couldn’t keep everything we uncovered, but one thing I was certain I would bring home with me. Handwritten facts of my mother’s early life with a list of grandchildren, her siblings, nieces, and nephews. Facts revealed I had never heard or read before.

Lately, while editing and revising my memoir, I dug out these notes and began to fact check againstthem for dates, names, and more. Yesterday I came upon something rather surprising.

As I was working with my manuscript, I picked up Mama’s notes to do some more fact-checking.  I’ve gone through life believing my name was given to me for no clear reason or relative. You know–a “just because” name. However, I am wrong!

Right there in her notes. In Mama’s own handwriting it reads:

Family History from Mama's Things in 2001
Family History from Mama’s Things in 2001

After her arrival, we named her Sherrey Alice. The Alice was given her for an aunt of mine, Uncle John’s wife. My mother always told me that Aunt Alice was such a sweet person, and I said if I ever have a little girl I’m going to name her Alice, so I did. Her Daddy put the Sherrey with it.

Now, I want to search through family photos and see if there is one of Aunt Alice because by the time I would have been old enough to know her, I believe she had passed on.

So now you and I know where my name came from, and you also know why that crazy email address reads like it does: “salice78@comcast.net.” Well, you almost know. But there’s more to that email address for another day.

Do you have letters, journals, or other family items, such as scrapbooks, etc., that hold family history? Have you used any of them in writing your memoir or other works? 

A New Library In Town: One Stop For Writers

If there’s one thing all writers agree on, it’s that writing is TOUGH. The road to publication twists and dips as we learn the craft, hone our abilities, create stories we’re passionate about, fight discouragement, educate ourselves about the industry…and then start the process all over again as we realize there’s room to improve. But you know what? If you are like me, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

Yet, sometimes it’s nice to get a helping hand.

 

Finding a good writing book, a helpful blog, a mentor or critique partner to share the journey with…these things are gems along the writing path.

And guess what? Maybe there’s another resource waiting just up the road called One Stop For Writers.

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One Stop For Writers is not writing software, but rather a powerful online library that contains tools, unique description collections, helpful tutorials and much more, brought to you by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, the authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and Lee Powell, the creator of Scrivener for Windows.

Could One Stop For Writers be the writing partner you’ve been searching for? Visit Writers Helping Writers this week and see, where Angela, Lee and Becca are celebrating their venture with prizes and some pay-it-forward fun.