Quotables

One day in high school, I copied a sentence I liked into a blank book.  Little did I know that it would launch a practice of collecting quotes whenever I encounter words that particularly grip me, somehow.  The reasons vary: it may be the idea expressed, it may be the lyrical quality, it may be the emotional texture, it may be the unusual style, or it may be something quite indefinable. Whatever the case, when I come across such passages or sentences, I am compelled to go write them down.  Not sure what good it does to collect them, but I can’t help myself.  (Nowadays, of course, quotes are everywhere–as tweets and statuses and avatars and gifs–so it would seem that many of us are thus inclined. Huzzah!)

Here are some of my favorite quotes about books and writing.

“It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by.  How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment?”  — Vita Sackville-West

“The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.” — Vladimir Nabokov

“If you decide to enter the page, take a knife and some matches, and something that will float. Take something you can hold onto, and a prism to split the light and a talisman that works, which should be hung on a chain around your neck: that’s for getting back. It doesn’t matter what kind of shoes, but your hands should be bare. You should never go into the page with gloves on. Such decisions, needless to say, should not be made lightly.” — Margaret Atwood, “The Page”

“I brought, too, the little journal I wrote my poems in and, after a few weeks, admitted to him that I wanted to be a poet. He didn’t laugh or ask, as my mother always did when I confessed my ambitions, how I planned to make a living doing that. (What are you going to do? Open a poetry store?) Instead he looked at me for a long time, his dark brown eyes reflecting the silvery green of the olive trees, and asked, ’Why?’
‘To make something that lasts,’ I answered.” — Carol Goodman, The Sonnet Lover

Do you collect quotes, dear readers? What are some of yours?

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10 thoughts on “Quotables”

  1. I don’t collect as in write down – but I will often remember a good quote and pass it on in the moment. Goodreads is great for things that I can’t quite remember.

  2. What wonderful quotes on writing. I have a file folder with many, which is somewhere. Now I collect Rumi quotes, mostly on Facebook every morning. There’s something about Rumi–he captures the dilemma of the human condition so perfectly for me.

  3. I don’t collect quotes about writing, but occasionally a particular sentence will jump off the page at me in such a way that I stop and marvel at its poetry. Your collection is great!

  4. Love this! My mom collects tons of quotes and has them everywhere in my parents’ house. I only have a few quotes around my house as of yet (that she didn’t give me) but I’m always looking for ones that sum up my thoughts on things perfectly. Like Theresa, I really love Rumi quotes (there’s someone on Twitter who tweets them all the time, btw), but my current favorite quote is Ghandi: Be the change you want to see in the world.

  5. I love quotes! A good friend has published several “Quotable” books, and I so enjoy them. I have a Pinterest board dedicated to great quotes, and I’m currently addicted to books that use quotes (Darynda Jones’ series comes to mind).

  6. Thanks for the comments, all!

    And you’re so right: Goodreads and Pinterest are fabulous for quote lovers (in fact, all I have on Pinterest = quotes categorized by topic…ha!).

    The Rumi quotes you post are always amazing, Theresa.

  7. I collect phrases. Many of them are part of our family lore. A favorite was my grandfather’s insistance that the wine in the unlabelled bottle was “that good kind.” (He always bought wine by the gallon and decanted it into other bottles. One year my uncle gave him empty bottles with homemade “That Good Kind” labels.). Then there is the “attractively damaged man” courtesy of a humor writer in Bazaar magazine or “I meant it to sting” from a P.G. Wodehouse novel.

  8. Great quotes! I don’t collect quotes, but sometimes I mark passages that I admire, usually for the way the author describes something. Here’s an example from Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk: “Still dyeing your hair, I see, he said, and indeed the old man’s brick of a pompadour was the glossy jet-black of a fresh oil spill.”

  9. Carmen, that’s great! And family quotes, yes! (In our house, it’s the things the kids said when they were little, which are hilarious.)

    Sue, wow, that’s fabulous. It reminds me of a description from Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood: “Her hair was so thin it looked like ham gravy trickling down her skull.” 😀

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