All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened.

An obstacle is often a stepping stone.

About no subject are poets tempted to lie so much as about their own lives.

Writing a novel is like heading out over the open sea in a small boat. It helps if you have a plan and a course laid out.

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.

The great advantage of being a writer is that you can spy on people. You’re there, listening to every word, but part of you is observing. Everything is useful to a writer, you see—every scrap, even the longest and most boring of luncheon parties.

All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.

If you cannot do great things, do small things in a great way.

I don’t think of literature as an end in itself. It’s just a way of communicating something.

Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.

The most beautiful things are those that madness prompts and reason writes.

The best effect of any book is that it excites the reader to self-activity.

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.

Writing is like sex; you don’t have to wait until you’re an expert to begin doing it.

I don’t think of literature as an end in itself. It’s just a way of communicating something.

Novels begin not on the page, but in meditation and daydreaming—in thinking, not writing.

Suit the action to the word, the word to the action.

Never tell a story because it is true: tell it because it is a good story.

A real book is not one that’s read, but one that reads us.

Love is the only energy I’ve ever used as a writer. I’ve never written out of anger, although anger has informed love.

To live a creative life we must first lose the fear of being wrong.

Stories of imagination tend to upset those without one.

Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance.

What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.

A novel is an impression, not an argument; and there the matter must rest.

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