February 02, 2015

The greatest writers work with the same 26 letters, good writing is just putting one word after another

Philip Roth by Zach Trenholm
Writing is putting one letter after another letter; one word after another; one sentence after another. As Margaret Atwood said:
"A word after a word after a word is power."
John Agard on Desert Island Discs (November 21 2014) said:
"The words of a great poet and human being Seamus Heaney puts it very simply, poetry: language in orbit. Because a poet is using the same number of letters of the alphabet as any other human being within the English alphabet the 26 letters. That magical moment when you happen to put the right words in the right order can trigger off a verbal chemistry that can touch your depths and language begins to fly."
Edmund Stone, to the Duke of Argyll in ‘Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties' said:
"It seems to me that one does not need to know anything more than the twenty-four letters to learn everything else that one wishes."
For me this was the most interesting, Philip Roth said:
"When I’m working I’m inevitably as any writer does, I get frustrated and can’t proceed, even panic, but I’ve tried to remind myself when that happens, is that my goal isn’t to write a book, the book is unimportant, my goal is to write a sentence, and in a sentence my goal is to attach one word to another. I tell myself, like a child, that’s all you have to do, attach one word to another. And within the word, all you have to do is attach one letter to another… Remember, proceed one letter at a time."
George Gordon Byron said:
"But words are things, and a small drop of ink, Falling like dew, upon a thought, produces That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think."
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