What I have seen is that the happiest people discover their own nature and match their life to it.

Ray Dalio

If you really believe in what you are doing, you’ll create it, self-publish it if necessary, rather than ape the tired clichés and genres that blinkered editors tell you the readers want.

Neil Gaiman

The truth is you have to hang on to your own belief. At the end of the day, all you really have is your own belief, your own passion. You can’t ignore the feedback, but you tell the story because you love it.

Christopher Nolan

When I was playing, I just wanted to get the technical part as best I could and leave the other part to the universal spirit. If I’d do my part, the universe would do its part. The universe is good, and it’s there for us to realize it.

Sonny Rollins

Writing fiction becomes a way to go deep inside yourself and illuminate precisely the stuff you don’t want to see or let anyone else see, and this stuff usually turns out (paradoxically) to be precisely the stuff all writers and readers everywhere share and respond to.

David Foster Wallace

At a certain point the document further crystallizes, into the form—the essay, the book, whatever it is. It’s there and it’s making a sound. From the very first page. If you poked it with a needle, it would sing a certain way. That’s the best moment. Finally, I hand it over to an editor, and the madness repeats itself several times. But that’s good hard work, too, that gets you somewhere. Together we push the piece as far across the plane toward perfection as possible, landing somewhere that still feels depressingly far from perfection. After that is just total emptiness and exhaustion. The only thing worse would be not having written it.

John Jeremiah Sullivan

Creativity—that state when ideas seem to organize themselves into a swift, tightly woven flow, with a feeling of gorgeous clarity and meaning emerging…at such times, when I am writing, thoughts seem to organize themselves in spontaneous succession and to clothe themselves instantly in appropriate words. I feel I can bypass or transcend much of my own personality, my neuroses. It is at once not me and the innermost part of me, certainly the best part of me.

Oliver Sacks

A work of art is the one mystery, the one extreme magic; everything else is either arithmetic or biology…when I read a work of art my senses sail way into a universe of wonder: How is it possible?

Truman Capote

It’s not the word made flesh we want in writing, in poetry and fiction, but the flesh made word.

William Gass

He always had an instrument in his hand.  He was always playing something. He was always trying to be better than he was and it seemed like, you know, how could he get better? How could he do anything better than that, than what he’s done already? And after playing all these years with all these different people…the man still had a vision that he could be better than he was and he was still practicing.

Rashied Ali, on John Coltrane

It is difficult to get the news from poems, yet men die miserably every day for lack of what is found there.

William Carlos Williams

This is the entire essence of life: Who are you? What are you?

Leo Tolstoy

Our culture doesn’t think storytelling is sacred; we don’t set aside a time of year for it. We don’t hold anything sacred except what organized religion declares to be so. Artists pursue a sacred call, although some would buck and rear at having their work labeled like this. Artists are lucky to have a form in which to express themselves; there is a sacredness about that, and a terrific sense of responsibility. We’ve got to do it right. Why do we have to do it right? Because that’s the whole point: either it’s right or it’s all wrong.

Ursula Le Guin

Fail. Fail again. Fail better.

Samuel Beckett

I feel a divine connection with eternal life when I write. I feel like something better than me is coming out of me.

Charles Mingus

More and more, it became clear to me that music was not going to simply be a hobby or an outlet for something that would be entertaining, but rather, music was part of a spiritual discipline… because this is what I was looking for. I was looking for myself, a way to understand myself, and I was looking for a way to understand those who are not myself, and I was looking to understand the community that I was born in.

Anthony Braxton

In the end, writing is like a prison, an island from which you will never be released, but which is a kind of paradise: the solitude, the thoughts, the incredible joy of putting into words the essence of what you for the moment understand and with your whole heart want to believe.

James Salter

I want you to feel what I felt. I want you to know why story-truth is truer sometimes than happening-truth.

Tim O'Brien

The Artist is no other than he who unlearns what he has learned, in order to know himself.

E.E. Cummings

It is the task of the writer to become that permeable and transparent; to become, in the words of Henry James, a person on whom nothing is lost. What is put into the care of such a person will be well tended. Such a person can be trusted to tell the stories she is given to tell, and to tell them with the compassion that comes when the self’s deepest interest is not in the self, but in turning outward and into awareness.

Jane Hirshfield

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