in memory of E. L. Doctorow 1931-2015

E. L. Doctorow 1931-2015

Merle Haggard

E. L. Doctorow died the other day. Ragtime and Loon Lake, I remember these. Then there was this:  I always thought he looked like Merle Haggard, which made the historical novelist cool in my eyes.

E. L. Doctorow on writing

1. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

2. “The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.”

3. “Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.”

4. “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”

5. “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader — not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

6. “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”

7. “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

8. “The writer isn’t made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.”

9. “There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there’s only narrative.”

10. “I am telling you what I know — words have music, and if you are a musician you will write to hear them.”

11. “A novelist is a person who lives in other people’s skins.”

12. “Stories distribute the suffering so that it can be borne.”

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