Monday, June 19, 2017

Tobias Wolff

“A true piece of writing is a dangerous thing. It can change your life.”
― Tobias Wolff, Old School

“We are made to persist. That's how we find out who we are.”
― Tobias Wolff

“Fearlessness in those without power is maddening to those who have it.”
― Tobias Wolff, This Boy's Life

“There are very few professions in which people just sit down and think hard for five or six hours a day all by themselves. Of course it's why you want to become a writer — because you have the liberty to do that, but once you have the liberty you also have the obligation to do it.”
― Tobias Wolff

“In the very act of writing I felt pleased with what I did. There was the pleasure of having words come to me, and the pleasure of ordering them, re-ordering them, weighing one against another. Pleasure also in the imagination of the story, the feeling that it could mean something. Mostly I was glad to find out that I could write at all. In writing you work toward a result you won't see for years, and can't be sure you'll ever see. It takes stamina and self-mastery and faith. It demands those things of you, then gives them back with a little extra, a surprise to keep you coming. It toughens you and clears your head. I could feel it happening. I was saving my life with every word I wrote, and I knew it.”
― Tobias Wolff, In Pharaoh's Army: Memories of the Lost War

“I have never been able to understand the complaint that a story is "depressing" because of its subject matter. What depresses me are stories that don't seem to know these things go on, or hide them in resolute chipperness; "witty stories," in which every problem is the occasion for a joke; "upbeat" stories that flog you with transcendence. Please. We're grown ups now.”
― Tobias Wolff

“I have also learned that you can be patient and diligent and sometimes it just doesn’t strike sparks. After a while you begin to understand that writing well is not a promised reward for being virtuous. No, every time you do it you’re stepping off into darkness and hoping for some light. You can be faithful, work hard, not waste your talents in drink, and still not have it happen.”
― Tobias Wolff

“We love hearing stories of other people’s misfortunes — not terrible misfortunes, we don’t like that, but if somebody has taken a really expensive holiday, we don’t mind hearing that their flight was canceled and they had to sleep on the airport floor, and that there was no snow on the slopes when they finally arrived, and that the heating crashed in their hotel and that they had to wear several layers of clothing to bed every night. We live by stories. It’s the principle by which we organize our experience and thus derive our sense of who we are. We’re in an unceasing flow of time and events and people, and to make sense of what goes past, we put a beginning and an end to a certain thing, and we leave things out and we heighten other things, and in that way we break the unbroken flow into stories, because that’s the only way we can give it significance.”
― Tobias Wolff

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