On Writing, By Eudora Welty

Probably due to the reader, not the writer, there were times when I struggled with this short book on writing fiction, times when I just didn’t get it and times when the texts used to illustrate the point were unfamiliar to me. Yet, there were these moments of connection that kept me bobbing along the surface all the way to the end of this heady exploration of the art of fiction and the role of the writer. Some quotes that emerged as meaningful to me:

“No two stories ever go the same way, although in different hands one story might possibly go any one of a thousand ways; and though the woods may look the same from outside, it is a new and different labyrinth every time. What tells the author his way? Nothing at all but what he knows inside himself: the same thing that hints to him afterward how far he has missed it, how near he may have come to the heart of it. In a working sense, the novel and its place have become one: work has made them, for the time being, the same thing, like the explorer’s tentative map of the known world'” (45, Place in Fiction)

“Place, to the writer at work, is seen in a frame. Not an empty frame, a brimming one. Point of view is a sort of burning-glass, a product of personal experience and time; it is burnished with feelings and sensibilities, charged from moment to memnet with the sun-points of imagination” (49, Place in Fiction)

“Making reality is art’s responsibility” (53, Place In Fiction).

“And if life ever became not worth writing fiction about, that, I believe, would be the first sign that it wasn’t worth living” (80, Must the Novelist Crusade?).

“Fictional time may be more congenial to us than clock time, precisely for human reasons. An awareness of time goes with us all our lives. Watch or no watch, we carry the awareness with us. It lies so deep, in the very grain of our characters, that who knows if it isn’t as singular to each of us as our thumbprints. In the sense of our transience may lie the irreducible urgency telling us to do, to understand, to love” (Some Notes on Time in Fiction, 100).


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