Irwin Shaw
Quotations


A good editor understands what you're talking and writing about and doesn't meddle too much.

A writer has to live with a sense of honor.

A writer is a human being. He has to live with a sense of honor.

All writers are the same—they forget a thousand good reviews and remember one bad one.

An absolutely necessary part of a writer's equipment, almost as necessary as talent, is the ability to stand up under punishment, both the punishment the world hands out and the punishment he inflicts upon himself.

At the height of the McCarthy period, writers were being hounded.

Curiously, the United States is full of writers who have one big work in their life and that's all.

Ernest Hemingway did a great deal toward making the writer an acceptable public figure; obviously, he was no sissy.

Every novelist has a different purpose—and often several purposes which might even be contradictory.

I am forced to say that I have many fiercer critics than myself.

I cringe when critics say I'm a master of the popular novel. What's an unpopular novel?

I don't think that the writer is regarded as a freak by Americans.

I haven't stuck to any formula. Most great writers stick to the same style, but I wanted to be more various.

I imagine that my characters have become much more complicated than when I first began, which would be normal.

I never drink while I'm working, but after a few glasses I get ideas that would never have occurred to me dead sober.

I never show anything to anybody until I've finished it.

I reach my readers regardless of what the critics have written.

I'm not as hopeful as I was when I was young.

I've gone on the wagon, but my body doesn't believe it.

If you're young enough, any kind of writing you do for a short period of time is a marvelous apprenticeship.

In a novel, it's hard to keep track of everybody.

In America, we have the feeling of the doomed young artist. Fitzgerald was the great example of that.

In Europe, a writer is supposed to improve up until he's about 75.

In the theater, characters have to cut the umbilical cord from the writer and talk in their own voices.

Isaac Singer was born in Poland and doesn't write in English. Still, he's an American.

It's those damn critics again.

Kennedy was a man who liked writers and even I got invited to the White House.

My attitudes have changed, but somebody would have to read all my books to find out how they have.

My favorite short-story writer is John Cheever.

My views naturally have mellowed. Most of the critics have been more or less nice to me.

No writer need feel sorry for himself if he writes and enjoys it, even if he doesn't get paid.

People who light up like Roman candles come down in the dark very quickly.

Posterity makes the judgments. There are going to be a lot of surprises in store for everybody.

Special-interest magazines are dangerous places for writers to start out in because the writing quickly falls into a routine and people are likely to find themselves artistically exhausted when they want to work on something of their own.

The great writers just kept bringing them out. They didn't care if they repeated themselves.

The last paragraph, in which you tell what the story is about, is almost always best left out.

The romantic idea is that everybody around a writer must suffer for his talent. I think a writer is a citizen of humanity, part of his nation, part of his family. He may have to make some compromises.

The writer works in a lonely way.

There are too many books I haven't read, too many places I haven't seen, too many memories I haven't kept long enough.

When I started out in the early 1930s, there were a great many magazines that published short stories. Unfortunately, the short-story market has dwindled to almost nothing.

Writers of fiction, when they begin, are more likely to try the short form.

Writing for the theater, you find yourself living a nocturnal life.

Writing is finally play, and there's no reason why you should get paid for playing.

Writing is like a contact sport, like football. You can get hurt, but you enjoy it.

You have to expect the raps when you have achieved popularity as a writer.

You must avoid giving hostages to fortune, like getting an expensive wife, an expensive house, and a style of living that never lets you afford the time to take the chance to write what you wish.



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