Saturday, January 3, 2015

"F. Scott Fitzgerald On Writing" edited by Larry W. Phillips

This is a collection of things that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote or said about writing, whether it was in personal letters or in fiction.  They're organized into sections like "What a Writer Is," "Craft and Where It Comes From," and "Characters."  And it is chock full of beautiful insights and advice.  

I have a similar book called Ernest Hemingway on Writing from the same editor of writing quotes from Ernest Hemingway that I got maybe five or six years ago and also love.  When I read about this one on someone's blog (I thought it was Classics and Beyond, but I can't find the post now -- maybe Emily just mentioned it in a comments discussion?), I knew I wanted to read it.  And yet it took me a couple of years to get a copy and read it.  I've been savoring it for a couple of weeks, reading a section at a time and pondering the advice there.

Because I am a writer, I found this book invaluable, just as I did the Hemingway collection.  I want to make a poster or something with the best advice from both.  Maybe a desktop background for my laptop?  Fitzgerald and Hemingway both spent a great deal of time learning and refining their art, studying writing and pondering it, and they both imparted their acquired wisdom so helpfully :-)

Particularly Good Bits:

"That is part of the beauty of all literature.  You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you're not lonely and isolated from anyone.  You belong" (p. 10).

"Good stories write themselves -- bad ones have to be written..." (p. 33).

"The history of my life is the history of the struggle between an overwhelming urge to write and a combination of circumstances bent on keeping me from it (p. 107).

14 comments:

  1. That last quote. Yes. Except maybe on a smaller scale in my case. ;) This seems like the kind of book that would be nice to have around when you need some encouragement to write!

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    1. Yes, that's my life too. And you can pick up a used copy of this very reasonably on Amazon! A very encouraging tome indeed.

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  2. Oh my goodness. That last one. YES. This sounds like a truly useful and inspiring book. And of course I'm always on the lookout for great quotes. :-)

    ~Emma

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    1. I know, right? So very me too. It's a really great collection and I highly recommend it. Same goes for the Hemingway volume.

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  3. I really struggle with Fitzgerald's writing, so maybe a book like this would have been a good place to start. If I understood the writer better, it may help me understand his stories. I'll have to see if my library has it.

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    1. Interesting! What do you struggle with? This book does have some good insights into his creative process (another quote I loved, but didn't share, involved how he liked to drink coffee or Coca-cola while writing -- I do too!), so who knows, it might help you understand him as an author. Couldn't hurt, anyway!

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  4. I like the first quotation. Well, I like all of them but the first one was the one that jumped out at me. I have requested from the library "So We Read On: How The Great Gatsby Came to Be and Why It Endures" by Maureen Corrigan. I've heard some good things about it, too.

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    1. I really want to read Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of the Great Gatsby by Sarah Bartlett Churchwell.

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    2. That sounds good. I had not heard of it. Thanks for letting me know about it!

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    3. And thanks for cluing me in to the Corrigan book -- I hadn't heard of that one!

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  5. I love writing quotes (and I love LOVE those last two you quoted here).....and I love Fitzgerald's turns of phrase.....so I have a deep feeling I'd really like this one. :) But....the library doesn't have it! Ah well. I will most definitely track it down as soon as I can. That Hemingway one looks good, too....

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    1. I'm exceedingly glad to have it, and I'm sure I'll reference it often like I do the Hemingway one.

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  6. Oooohhh, I can get it on interlibrary loan and I just placed the hold! Yay!!

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    1. YAY! It's really great for "filling in the cracks." Just reading a bit here and there when you have a minute or two.

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