Reading good writings by others helps us to write better. Reading is enjoyable in itself even when we cannot write. Each reader has his or her particular likes and dislikes. I personally like reading Jewish writing. I decide to post some quotes about writing from Cynthia Ozick (1928-) today as I have just read her short story titled,”Envy; or, Yiddish in America”. She is a writer of fiction and also publishes critical essays, poetry and plays. She is one of the most celebrated Jewish American writers. I marvel at the eloquence she displays in her writing. Where do all those words come from? Perhaps reading some of her quotes we may catch a glimpse of her secret. I fully agree with her: “Read, read, read.”
Her Quotes about writing and novel:
“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.”
“No one can teach writing, but classes may stimulate the urge to write. If you are born a writer, you will inevitably and helplessly write. A born writer has self-knowledge. Read, read, read. And if you are a fiction writer, don’t confine yourself to reading fiction. Every writer is first a wide reader.
“If we had to say what writing is, we would have to define it essentially as an act of courage.”
“A writer is dreamed and transfigured into being by spells, wishes, goldfish, silhouettes of trees, boxes of fairy tales dropped in the mud, uncles’ and cousins’ books, tablets and capsules and powders…and then one day you find yourself leaning here, writing on that round glass table salvaged from the Park View Pharmacy–writing this, an impossibility, a summary of who you came to be where you are now, and where, God knows, is that?”
“To imagine the unimaginable is the highest use of the imagination”
“This is what travelers discover: that when you sever the links of normality and its claims, when you break off from the quotidian, it is the teapots that truly shock.”
“I write in terror…I have to talk myself into bravery with every sentence, sometimes every syllable.”
“What does the novel know? It has no practical or educational aim; yet it knows what ordinary knowledge cannot seize. The novel’s intricate tangle of character-and-incident alights on the senses with a hundred cobwebby knowings fanning their tiny threads, stirring up nuances and disclosures. The arcane designs and driftings of metaphor – what James called the figure in the carpet, what Keats called negative capability, what Kafka called explaining the inexplicable – are that the novel knows.”
“An author’s extraliterary utterance (blunt information), prenovel or postnovel, may infiltrate journalism; it cannot touch the novel itself. Fiction does not invent out of a vacuum, but it invents; and what it invents is, first, the fabric and cadence of language, and then a slant of idea that sails out of these as a fin lifts from the sea. The art of the novel (worn yet opulent phrase) is in the mix of idiosyncratic language – language imprinted in the writer, like the whorl of a fingertip – and an unduplicable design inscribed on the mind by character and image. Invention has little capacity for the true-to-life snapshot. It is true to its own stirrings.”
“On a gray afternoon I sit in a silent room and contemplate din. In the street a single car passes – a rapid bass vowel – and then it is quiet again. So what is this uproar, this hubbub, this heaving rumble of zigzag static I keep hearing? This echo chamber spooling out spirals of chaos? An unmistakable noise as clearly mine as fingerprint or twist of DNA: the thrum of regret, of memory, of defeat, of mutability, of bitter fear, made up of shame and ambition and anger and vanity and wishing. The soundtrack of a movie of the future, an anticipatory ribbon of scenes long dreaded, of daydreams without a prayer of materializing. Or else: the replay of unforgotten conversations, humiliating, awkward, indelible. Mainly it is the buzz of the inescapably mundane, the little daily voice that insists and insists: right now, not now, too late, too soon, why not, better not, turn it on, turn it off, notice this, notice that, be sure to take care of, remember not to. The nonstop chatter that gossips, worries, envies, invokes, yearns, condemns, self-condemns.”
― Cynthia Ozick, The Din in the Head
Definition of eloquence: fluency, articulateness, expressiveness, silver tongue, persuasiveness, forcefulness, power, potency, effectiveness; oratory, rhetoric, grandiloquence, magniloquence; informal gift of (the) gab, way with words.