„Writing is a strange and solitary activity.“

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Nadine Gordimer photo

„Writing is indeed, some kind of affliction in its demands as the most solitary and introspective of occupations.“

—  Nadine Gordimer South african Nobel-winning writer 1923 - 2014
Context: I certainly find being the recipient at this celebratory dinner more pleasurable and rewarding than chicken-pox, having now in my life experienced both. But the small girl was not entirely wrong. Writing is indeed, some kind of affliction in its demands as the most solitary and introspective of occupations.

Mindy Kaling photo
Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset photo

„So in this way of writing without thinking,
Thou hast a strange alacrity in sinking.“

—  Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset English politician and poet 1536 - 1608
Charles Sackville, Earl of Dorset "On Mr Edward Howard, upon his British Princes"; cited from Geoffrey Grigson (ed.) The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980) p. 74

David Bowie photo

„Strangely, some songs you really don't want to write.“

—  David Bowie British musician, actor, record producer and arranger 1947 - 2016
Context: Strangely, some songs you really don't want to write. I didn't like writing "Heathen". There was something so ominous and final about it. It was early in the morning, the sun was rising and through the windows I could see two deer grazing down below in the field. In the distance a car was driving slowly past the reservoir and these words were just streaming out and there were tears running down my face. But I couldn't stop, they just flew out. It's an odd feeling, like something else is guiding you, although forcing your hand is more like it.

Ted Hughes photo

„Many writers write a great deal, but very few write more than a very little of the real thing. So most writing must be displaced activity.“

—  Ted Hughes English poet and children's writer 1930 - 1998
Context: Many writers write a great deal, but very few write more than a very little of the real thing. So most writing must be displaced activity. When cockerels confront each other and daren’t fight, they busily start pecking imaginary grains off to the side. That’s displaced activity. Much of what we do at any level is a bit like that, I fancy. But hard to know which is which. On the other hand, the machinery has to be kept running. The big problem for those who write verse is keeping the machine running without simply exercising evasion of the real confrontation. If Ulanova, the ballerina, missed one day of practice, she couldn’t get back to peak fitness without a week of hard work. Dickens said the same about his writing—if he missed a day he needed a week of hard slog to get back into the flow.

Samuel Johnson photo

„If you are idle, be not solitary; if you are solitary, be not idle.“

—  Samuel Johnson, The Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. Vol 3
Letter to James Boswell, October 27, 1779, p. 433

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Jorge Luis Borges photo

„Reading … is an activity subsequent to writing: more resigned, more civil, more intellectual.“

—  Jorge Luis Borges Argentine short-story writer, essayist, poet and translator, and a key figure in Spanish language literature 1899 - 1986
Universal History of Infamy [Historia universal de la infamia] (1935) Preface

John of the Cross photo

„My Beloved is the mountains,
The solitary wooded valleys,
The strange islands,
The roaring torrents,
The whisper of the amorous gales;
The tranquil night
At the approaches of the dawn,
The silent music,
The murmuring solitude,
The supper which revives, and enkindles love.“

—  John of the Cross Spanish mystic and Roman Catholic saint 1542 - 1591
Context: My Beloved is the mountains, The solitary wooded valleys, The strange islands, The roaring torrents, The whisper of the amorous gales; The tranquil night At the approaches of the dawn, The silent music, The murmuring solitude, The supper which revives, and enkindles love. ~ 14 & 15

Robert Burton photo

„Be not solitary, be not idle.“

—  Robert Burton English scholar 1577 - 1640
Section 4, member 2, subsection 6, Cure of Despair by Physic, Good Counsel, Comforts, etc.

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