The Art of NOT Writing

It’s been a while since I posted any writing quotes, which is reflective of how I’ve been procrastinating on finishing A Bull by the Horns, too.  So I thought these quotes seem particularly appropriate today:

john-creasey-sml1Nine out of ten writers, I am sure, could write more. I think they should and, if they did, they would find their work improving even beyond their own, their agent’s, and their editor’s highest hopes.

John Creasey
English crime and science fiction writer


With sixty staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and a definite hardening of the paragraphs.

James Thurber
American cartoonist, author, journalist, playwright



I went for years without finishing anything.  Because, of course, when you finish something you can be judged.

Erica Jong
American author and teacher


The Mystery of Writing a Mystery

I love reading mysteries almost as much as I love writing them. But the process of creating a believable and surprising mystery novel is often as shifty and elusive as the criminal your protagonist is trying to reveal.  Here’s what some famous authors found out about the subject:

RaymondChandlerPromoPhotoAt least half the  mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable.

Raymond Chandler
American novelist and screenwriter


The mystery story is two stories in one: the story of what happened and the story of what appeared to happen.

Mary Roberts Rinehart
Often called the American Agatha Christie


Dorothy_L_Sayers_1928There certainly does seem a possibility that the detective story will come to an end, simply because the public will have learnt all the tricks.

Dorothy Sayers
English crime writer, poet, playwright, and essayist


I hope not, Dorothy, I hope not!

Writing is Hard!

I am so disappointed that I am not yet finished with my mystery novel A Bull By The Horns. I fully intended to have it published by now, but with a snag I’ve come up against in the plot, there is a good chance I won’t even have it finished until early 2015.  At least I have the comfort of knowing that I’m not the only writer who’s ever had to slog through the hard parts of this “job” that I love.

Lillian Hellman.gif“Nothing you write, if you hope to be any good, will ever come out as you first hoped.”

Lillian Hellman
American dramatist and screenwriter



Sean ocasey 1924.jpg“When I stepped from hard manual work to writing, I just stepped from one kind of hard work to another.”

Sean O’Casey
Irish dramatist and memoirist.

Pleasing Yourself to Please Others

Why do I write?  Almost all writers will say they write because they have to.  But how do I choose which stories to write about?  I found two quotes that answers that for me.

JohnDMacDonald“My purpose is to entertain myself first and other people secondly.”

John D. MacDonald
American novelist known for his thrillers

American Modernist poet known for her irony and wit.




“Any writer overwhelmingly honest about pleasing himself is almost sure to please others.”

Marianne Moore
American Modernist poet known for her irony and wit.

Write What You Want To Read

Surely all authors must do this, right?  I know I do.  Otherwise, where would be the joy in doing it?


“I write what I would like to read–what I think other women would like to read.  If what I write makes a woman in the Canadian Mountains cry and she writes and tells me about it, especially if she says, “I read it to Tom when he came in from work and he cried, too,” I feel I have succeeded.”

Kathleen Norris, on the publication of her 78th book

My Very Own Books

Sherlock Holmes may only be a figment of Arthur Conan Doyle’s imagination, but he plugged into reality with the statement below.  Which really good books of your very own did your writing life start with?  I collected the Hardy Boys and Bobbsey Twins series as a child, which is when I started writing.  I’m sure there were more books before then, but my best early memories are of my mom making up her very own stories for me at bedtime.

One story in particular sticks out. It was about a poodle that somehow got lost and the scene that lingers is the one where the poor dog had to pee and was embarassed at having to hide behind a bush to do so.  Hmm, I wonder if that’s why I had a shy bladder all through grade school?


It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own.

Sherlock Holmes, 1887 to infinity and beyond