The Quotable Algonkian, Part I: Having Doubt, Having Faith

onthehouseAlgonquin authors, a spectacularly talented lot, are also exceptionally generous with their hard-earned advice for writers. The Internet being the time-suck that it is, we gallantly got sucked in on your behalf, rounding up some of our authors’ best gems into one handy-dandy little installment. Here’s hoping you find wisdom to fuel your own writing…

Smith_author_CMYK_smaller_HR-200x300Lee Smithauthor of Guests On Earth, on becoming a writer: “Don’t wait for some ideal point in your life when you will finally have ‘time to write.’ No sane person ever has time to write. Don’t clean the bathroom, don’t paint the hall. Write. Claim your time. And remember that a writer is a person who is writing, not a person who is publishing.” [Originally published on IndieBound]





Leavitt-author-photo1Caroline Leavitt, author of Is This Tomorrow, on that voice in your head that says you suck (aka, you’re not alone): “I can’t turn that voice off. It is always in my head. It always goads me to get online and compare myself to other writers. It pushes me into all sorts of magic thinking like tarot card spells and prayers to the universe: please don’t let me suck. My big revelation was one day when I got the best review I ever received in my life from the Cleveland Plain Dealer — they thought I was a genius! And then five minutes later, I got the worst review I ever received from the Philadelphia Inquirer who loathed everything the CPD had loved. I had a moment when I realized not everyone is going to love me. I try to tell myself to go deeper, to just write and write and write about what matters to me, to not think about readers and critics or anything but the story. And I eat a lot of chocolate.” [Originally published in Huffington Post]


parker_michaelMichael Parker, author of All I Have in This World, on the time-honored wisdom of his former teacher, the late George Garrett, who used to say that the biggest difference between writers who make it and writers who don’t is perseverance: “I would only add that writing well is a delicate balance of faith and doubt. Doubt keeps you honest. Faith gets the pages in the mail. Don’t scrimp on either, but, as the evil psychiatrist says in Mrs. Dalloway, it’s all a matter of proportion.” [Originally published in Book Slut]





alicehoffmanAlice Hoffman, author of Survival Lessons, on getting critiques for your work: “Be careful who you let read your work. I’m a big believer in writing programs and workshops, but you can’t listen to everybody’s voice. You have to decide who you’re going to trust. First trust yourself.” [Originally published in Writer Magazine]



jones_tayariTayari Jones, author of Silver Sparrow, on the secret to dealing with rejection: “Here it is—get rejected all the time.  Seriously. You will grow a thicker skin. Take a lesson from middle school boys. . . . Asking ten girls to dance greatly increases your chances of getting a little smooch by the end of the night.” [Originally published on]





2 Comments On This Post:

February 20, 2014
7:24 pm
Teresa Draper says...

Thanks for accumulating these tidbits from accomplished authors. I add it all together to find anticipation for my next manuscript, submission or project.

February 20, 2014
10:04 pm
Leonora Orr says...

greetings, appreciating all comments…….good to have re – minders and GRIT!

the fire is within all, yet sparks fly errantly with timeliness. EVER on my knees to

that Magical Visionary man of FEW poignant words, Dr. Louis D. Rubin, Jr., a man

of all means, skills, and a big heart, played out on the harmonica and his students!

I have notes from MANY saying ‘I’ll read that book when you write it’…..most have faded into barely-readable oblivion, yet, I am writing …… from 40 years of journals, travel and beyond-words teachings, which is why i also paint, and was warmed by LDR’s turning to the canvas in his later years……

Pumehana (Warmly), me ke aloha (with aloha), Leonora Orr, BA English, Hollins ’63

Post A Comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *