John Irving Quotes.
I believe in rules of behavior, and I’m quite interested in stories about the consequences of breaking those rules.
I grew up in a family where, through my teenage years, I was expected to go to church on Sunday. It wasn’t terribly painful. I thought some of the stories were neat; I liked some of the liturgy and some of the songs.
There’s nothing as scary as the future.
You’ve got to get obsessed and stay obsessed.
If you can’t love crudeness, how can you truly love mankind?
I don’t read anything electronically. I don’t write electronically, either – except e-mails to my family and friends. I write in longhand. I have always written first drafts by hand, but I used to write subsequent drafts and insert pages on a typewriter.
To each other, we were as normal and nice as the smell of bread. We were just a family. In a family even exaggerations make perfect sense.
It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious.
Never confuse faith, or belief вЂ” of any kind вЂ” with something even remotely intellectual.
. . .There are moments when time does stop. We must be alert enough to notice such moments . . .
If you’re still wondering about details – how am I going to get these two to meet, or whatever – when you’re writing, you can’t pay proper attention to the sentences themselves.
There’s no reason you shouldn’t, as a writer, not be aware of the necessity to revise yourself constantly.
More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn’t say I have a talent that’s special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina.
I don’t really set out to explore grand themes. I set out to tell a story. And one I have to be able to imagine right through.
Your memory is a monster; you forget – it doesn’t. It simply files things away. It keeps things for you, or hides things from you – and summons them to your recall with a will of its own. You think you have a memory; but it has you!
There’s no reason you should write any novel quickly.
If you don’t feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then probably what you are doing isn’t very vital.
I’ve always preferred writing in longhand. I’ve always written first drafts in longhand.
Imagining something is better than remembering something.
I think the sport of wrestling, which I became involved with at the age of 14… I competed until I was 34, kind of old for a contact sport. I coached the sport until I was 47. I think the discipline of wrestling has given me the discipline I have to write.
And I don’t want to begin something, I don’t want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it’s my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you.
I believe in plot, in development of character, in the effect of the passage of time, in a good story – better than something you might find in the newspaper. And I believe a novel should be as complicated and involved as you’re capable of making it.
I don’t begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don’t mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey.
‘Great Expectations’ was an important novel in my adolescence. It was very much one of those emblematic novels that made me wish I could write like that. It helped that my models as a writer were dead over a hundred years before I began to write.
I never know when I finish the novel I am writing which will be the next novel out of the station.
We often need to lose sight of our priorities in order to see them.
When I was still in prep school – 14, 15 – I started keeping notebooks, journals. I started writing, almost like landscape drawing or life drawing. I never kept a diary, I never wrote about my day and what happened to me, but I described things.
I lived five years in the Midwest, and I loved it. The people were so nice. The people were so open.
I have a very poor record at multiple choice questions.
I write the last line, and then I write the line before that. I find myself writing backwards for a while, until I have a solid sense of how that ending sounds and feels. You have to know what your voice sounds like at the end of the story, because it tells you how to sound when you begin.
We don’t always have a choice how we get to know one another. Sometimes, people fall into our lives cleanly–as if out of the sky, or as if there were a direct flight from Heaven to Earth–the same sudden way we lose people, who once seemed they would always be part of our lives
We are formed by what we desire
I take people very seriously. People are all I take seriously, in fact. Therefore, I have nothing but sympathy for how people behave – and nothing but laughter to console them with.
I wasn’t afraid of anything until I had a kid. Then I was terrified because immediately I could imagine a hundred ways in which I could not protect him.
No adult in my family would ever tell me anything about who my father was. I knew from an older cousin – only four years older than I am – everything, or what little I could discover about him.
Whatever I write, no matter how gray or dark the subject matter, it’s still going to be a comic novel.
Keep passing the open windows.
I’ve always been a fan of the 19th century novel, of the novel that is plotted, character-driven, and where the passage of time is almost as central to the novel as a major minor character, the passage of time and its effect on the characters in the story.
Writing a novel is actually searching for victims. As I write I keep looking for casualties. The stories uncover the casualties.
If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.
There’s a lot of ignorance about how long it takes to write a novel. There’s a lot of ignorance about how long a novel is in your head before you start to write it.
I had been a student in Vienna, and one of the neat little things I had found out was about that zoo. It was a good debut novel for me to have published. I was 26 or 27 when it was published. I already had a kid and would soon have a second.
‘The Fourth Hand’ was a novel that came from twenty years of screenwriting concurrently with whatever novel I’m writing.
The principal event of my childhood was that no adult in my family would tell me who my father was.
I grew up without a father, who was kept a mystery to me. There was a sense of uprootedness, things being one day here and the next day not; a sense anything could happen. Then, all of a sudden, my mother met my stepfather, and her life became happier, and my life changed, my name changed.
It’s not very interesting to establish sympathy for people who, on the surface, are instantly sympathetic. I guess I’m always attracted to people who, if their lives were headlines in a newspaper, you might not be very sympathetic about them.
Sigmund Freud was a novelist with a scientific background. He just didn’t know he was a novelist. All those damn psychiatrists after him, they didn’t know he was a novelist either.
One of the humbling things about having written more than one novel is the sense that every time you begin, that new empty page does not know who you are.
I think better of our behaviour as individuals than I do when we see ourselves as members of a group. It’s when people start forming groups that we have to watch our backs.
There are few things as seemingly untouched by the real world as a child asleep.
Good habits are worth being fanatical about.
A writer’s job is to imagine everything so personally that the fiction is as vivid as memories.
If I have any advantage, maybe, as a writer, it is that I don’t think I’m very interesting. I mean, beginning a novel with the last sentence is a pretty plodding way to spend your life.
I suppose I’m proudest of my novels for what’s imagined in them. I think the world of my imagination is a richer and more interesting place than my personal biography.
And I find – I’m 63, and my capacity to be by myself and just spend time by myself hasn’t diminished any. That’s the necessary part of being a writer, you better like being alone.
I do know where I’m going and it’s just a matter of finding the language to get there.
But who can distinguish between falling in love and imagining falling in love? Even genuinely falling in love is an act of the imagination.
As many times as I’ve seen ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ I always take Shylock’s side. For all the hatred that guy is shown, he has a reason to hate in return. He’s treated cruelly. And it’s tragic that he learns to be intolerant because of what others do to him.
I suppose I try to look for those things where the world turns on you. It’s every automobile accident, every accident at a party, you’re having a good time until suddenly you’re not.
People only ask questions when they’re ready to hear the answers.