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E. L. Doctorow's Quotes

E. L. Doctorow profile photo

Born: 1931-01-06
Profession: Author
Nation: American
Biography of E. L. Doctorow

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A period of time is as much an organising principle for a work of fiction as a sense of place. You can do geography, as Faulkner did, or you can dwell on a particular period. It provides the same framework.

Tags: Place, Time, Work

Congress is so beholden to the money that any solution in the general interest will be frustrated and subverted by the corporate interests who feel they will be damaged by progress, fair play and justice.

Tags: Justice, Money, Progress

Each book tends to have its own identity rather than the author's. It speaks from itself rather than you. Each book is unlike the others because you are not bringing the same voice to every book. I think that keeps you alive as a writer.

Tags: Book, Others, Rather

I began to ask two questions while I was reading a book that excited me: not only what was going to happen next, but how is this done? How is it that these words on the page make me feel the way I'm feeling? This is the line of inquiry that I think happens in a child's mind, without him even knowing he has aspirations as a writer.

Tags: Book, Feeling, Mind

I like commas. I detest semi-colons - I don't think they belong in a story. And I gave up quotation marks long ago. I found I didn't need them, they were fly-specks on the page.

Tags: Found, Gave, Story

I'm not the sort of writer who can walk into a party and take a look around, see who's sleeping with whom and go home and write a novel about society. It's not the way I work.

Tags: Home, Society, Work

My theory about why Hemingway killed himself is that he heard his own voice; that he reached the point where he couldn't write without feeling he was repeating himself. That's the worst thing that can happen to a writer.

Tags: Feeling, Happen, Why

One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing. To put myself in the position of writing to find out what I was writing.

Tags: Put, Trust, Writing

It's like driving a car at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Tags: Car, Night, Whole

Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you're doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.

Tags: Talking, Write, Writing

There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there's only narrative.

Tags: Fiction, Longer, Narrative

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

Tags: Acceptable, Socially, Writing

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader - not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.

Tags: Feeling, Good, Writing

Like art and politics, gangsterism is a very important avenue of assimilation into society.

Tags: Art, Politics, Society

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.

Tags: Learn, Start, Writing

In the twentieth century one of the most personal relationships to have developed is that of the person and the state. It's become a fact of life that governments have become very intimate with people, most always to their detriment.

Tags: Become, Fact, Life

A new reader shouldn't be able to find you in your work, though someone who's read more may begin to.

Tags: May, Someone, Work

History is the present. That's why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth.

Tags: End, History, Why

I can walk into a bookstore and hand over my credit card and they don't know who the hell I am. Maybe that says something about bookstore clerks.

Tags: Hand, Hell, Walk

I did have a feeling then that the culture of factuality was so dominating that storytelling had lost all its authority.

Tags: Culture, Feeling, Lost

I thought I would lose, so I didn't prepare a speech.

Tags: Lose, Speech, Thought

I try to avoid experience if I can. Most experience is bad.

Tags: Bad, Experience, Try

Movies are too literal.

Tags: Literal, Movies

Somewhere along the line the rhythms and tonalities of music elided in my brain with the sounds that words make and the rhythm that sentences have.

Tags: Brain, Music, Words

The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.

Tags: Felt, Happened, Tell

The writer isn't made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.

Tags: Reason, Writer, Writers
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Things that appear on the front page of the newspaper as 'fact' are far more dangerous than the games played by a novelist, and can lead to wars.

Tags: Dangerous, Fact, Far

We're always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it's a little raw and nervy.

Tags: Attracted, Edges, Raw

When I'm writing, I like to seal everything off and face the wall, not to look outside the window. The only way out is through the sentences.

Tags: Face, Off, Writing

When you're working well, you don't do research. Whatever you need comes to you.

Tags: Research, Whatever, Working

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.

Tags: Book, Time, Yourself

Writing is immensely difficult. The short forms especially.

Tags: Difficult, Short, Writing

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

Tags: Night, Whole, Writing
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