Natalie Goldberg: Be specific. Not car, but Cadillac. Not fruit, but apple, Not bird, but wren... Don't chastise yourself as you are writing, "I'm an idiot; she said to be specific and I wrote 'tree.'" Just gently note that your wrote "tree," drop to a deeper level, and next to "tree" write "sycamore."


Allen Ginsberg: In our century Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams constantly insist on direct perception of the materials of poetry, of the language itself that you’re working with. The slogan here - and henceforth I’ll use a series of slogans derived from various poets and yogis - is one out of Pound: “Direct treatment of the thing.” How do you interpret that phrase? Don’t treat the object indirectly or symbolically, but look directly at it and choose spontaneously that aspect of it which is most immediately striking—the striking flash in consciousness or awareness, the most vivid, what sticks out in your mind—and notate that.


. . .


The country appeared as empty ground, big sagebrush, rabbitbrush, intricate sky, flocks of small birds like packs of cards thrown up in the air, and a faint track drifting toward the red-walled horizon. Graves were unmarked, fallen house timbers and corrals burned up in old campfires. Nothing much but weather and distance, the distance punctuated once in a while by ranch gates, and to the north the endless murmur and sun-flash of semis rolling along the interstate.

- Annie Proulx, the story The Bunchgrass Edge of the World, from the collection Close Range


Like most people I lived for a long time with my mother and father. My father liked to watch the wrestling, my mother liked to wrestle; it didn't matter what. She was in the white corner and that was that.

- Jeanette Winterson, Oranges are not the Only Fruit


One day, I was already old, in the entrance of a public place a man came up to me. He introduced himself and said, "I've known you for many years. Everyone tells me you were beautiful when you were young, but I want to tell you I think you are more beautiful now than then. Rather than your face as a young woman, I prefer your face as it is now. Ravaged."

- Margueritte Duras, The Lover

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Annie Dillard

When you write, lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner's pick, a woodcarver's gouge, a surgeon's probe. You wield it and it digs a path you follow. - Annie Dillard