U is for: U2

. . . And all of the other contributors to the great pool of quotes about being an writer. Here are three of my favorites, beginning with this post’s namesake:

“Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief;
All kill their inspiration and sing about the grief.”

–U2, The Fly

You can listen to this work of art, which comes from the 1991 album Achtung Baby, here if you so desire.  (See what I did there?) While this quote is about poets and artists specifically, I think there’s no question in the mind of the fiction writer that this can apply to us. Anyone who has ever created (and subsequently emotionally and/or physically damaged) a protagonist knows this to be true . . . whether we want to admit it to ourselves or not.

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.”

–Terry Pratchett

I’m the first to admit that I have not read enough of Terry Pratchett’s work, but I can say without a shadow of doubt that his was the passing of a giant. He redefined what it meant to be a prolific writer without sacrificing originality at any point, and with an open mind and open arms which allowed for partnerships with lasting literary impact in a field where cooperative,  equal partnership is as exceptional and precious as discovering a unicorn. That such comforting words of wisdom as these should have come from him is apt and unsurprising–and they are words of wisdom. I repeat this like a mantra every day that I edit, and have probably quoted it to every single disheartened writer I know at some point.

“Writers aren’t people exactly. Or, if they’re any good, they’re a whole lot of people trying so hard to be one person.”

–F. Scott Fitzgerald

To step away from the contemporary and into the classics, I offer this absolute gem from Fitzgerald, which I think summarizes the insanity inherent to fiction writing better than any other statement I have ever found; and all with a colloquial tone that adds just enough levity to this complicated way of being that we can still pass ourselves off as near to normal when quoting it to other people.

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