Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Quotes from Some Famous Authors on How They Write

There is no right or wrong on how a writer wants to write. It all comes down to what suits. Some people do it in the cafe, library, or wherever they can find a place to sit. Others do it at home on their computers, just as they used to do with typewriters, or in some solitary place. Some people spend time plotting out what they are going to write before they start writing while others just grab pen and paper and start writing whatever comes to mind (automatic writing). And there are some writers, such as myself, who don't have one way of writing; they have several.

Here are some quotes on how some famous authors write, which came in my email this morning:

"I write almost entirely in bed or on a couch with my feet up on the coffee table. I feel most creative when I'm looking out the window, and my bed and couch have nice views of the New York skyline."
- Gary Shteyngart

"I have a very beautiful room in my house... It's glass on three sides, and you'd think that's the perfect place to write. Somehow in that nice room I feel too exposed, and... I'm too distracted by things going on, so I end up writing in a not-very-nice office bedroom."
- Jeffrey Eugenides

"Usually I try to be there by six. Everything has been taken off the walls so that there's nothing to arrest my sight. On the bed I have Roget's Thesaurus, a dictionary, a Bible, and a deck of playing cards."
- Toni Morrison

"I wake early, often at 5 o'clock, and start writing at once."
- James Joyce

"I generally concentrate on work for three or four hours every morning. I sit at my desk and focus totally on what I’m writing. I don’t see anything else, I don’t think about anything else."
- Haruki Murakami

"I write my first draft by hand, at least for fiction. For non-fiction, I write happily on a computer, but for fiction I write by hand, because I'm trying to achieve a kind of thoughtless state, or an unconscious instinctive state. I'm not reading what I write when I wrote. It's an unconscious outpouring that's a mess, and it's many, many steps away from anything anyone would want to read. Creating that way seems to generate the most interesting material for me to work with, though."
- Jennifer Egan

"I don't start a novel until I have lived with the story for a while to the point of actually writing an outline, and after a number of books I've learned that the more time I spend on the outline the easier the book is to write.  And if I cheat on the outline I get in trouble with the book."
- John Grisham

"When I start to write, I don't have any plan at all. I just wait for the story to come."
- Haruki Murakami
"I might spend 100 pages trying to get to know the world I'm writing about: its contours, who are my main characters, what are their relationships to each other, and just trying to get a sense of what and who this book is about. Usually around that point of 100 pages, I start to feel like I'm lost, I have too much material, it's time to start making some choices. It's typically at that point that I sit down and try to make a formal outline and winnow out what's not working and what I'm most interested in, where the story seems to be going."
- Michael Chabon

"What I try to do is write. I may write for two weeks ‘the cat sat on the mat, that is that, not a rat,’.... And it might be just the most boring and awful stuff. But I try. When I’m writing, I write. And then it’s as if the muse is convinced that I’m serious and says, ‘Okay. Okay. I’ll come.'"
- Maya Angelou

"I type in one place, but I write all over the house."
- Toni Morrison

"When I'm really involved or getting towards the end of a novel, I can write for up to ten hours a day. At those times, it's as though I'm writing a letter to someone I'm desperately in love with."
- Joyce Carol Oates

Monday, March 6, 2017

Grammar Point: Should there be a Comma Before “While”?

One point of grammar about “while” is whether or not there should be a comma before “while”. Which is the correct use?

Harry was working in the garden while Grant was mowing the lawns.
Harry was working in the garden, while Grant was mowing the lawns.

Amanda is a very nice girl while her brother Gerry is a little horror.
Amanda is a very nice girl, while her brother Gerry is a little horror.

It all comes down to what context “while” is being used for. If “while” means “at the same time”, the comma is not used. However, if “while” means “whereas”, the comma is used. So when this rule is applied to the examples above:

Correct sentence: Harry was working in the garden while Grant was mowing the lawns.
“While” in this sentence means “at the same time”, so there is no comma before it.
Correct sentence: Amanda is a very nice girl, while her brother Gerry is a little horror.

“While” in this sentence means “whereas”, so the comma is used before it.