Tag Archives: Writer’s Diary

A Writer’s Diary: Elizabeth Barrett Browning

 

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4 June 1831

I wonder if I shall burn this sheet of paper like most others I have begun in the same way. To write a diary, I have thought of very often at far & near  distances of time: but how could I write a diary without throwing upon paper my thoughts, all my thoughts – the thoughts of my heart as well as of my head? – and then how could I bear to look on them after they were written? Adam made fig leaves necessary for the mind, as well as for the body. And such a mind I have! So very exacting & exclusive & eager & headlong – & strong & so very very often wrong! Well! But I will write: I must write – & the oftener wrong I know myself to be, the less wrong I shall be in one thing – the less vain I shall be!

– Elizabeth Barrett Browning

A Writer’s Diary: John Steinbeck on Comfortable Space for Writing

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12 February 1951

Lincoln’s Birthday. My first day of work in my new room. It is a very pleasant room and I have a drafting table to work on which I have always wanted – also a comfortable chair given me by Elaine. In fact I have never had it so good and so comfortable. I have known such things to happen – the perfect pointed pencil – the paper persuasive – the fantastic chair and a good light and no writing. Surely a man is most treacherous animal full of his treasured contradictions. He may not admit it but he loves his paradoxes.

Now that I have everything, we shall see whether I have anything. It is exactly that simple. Mark Twain used to write in bed – so did our greatest poet. But I wonder how often they wrote in bed – or whether they did it twice and the story took hold. Such things happen. Also I would like to know what things they wrote in bed and what things they wrote sitting up. All of this has to do with comfort in writing and what its value is. I should think that a comfortable body would let the mind go freely to its gathering. But such is the human that he might react in an opposite way. Remember my father’s story about the man who did not dare be comfortable because he went to sleep. That might be true of me too. Now I am perfectly comfortable in body. I think my house is in order. Elaine, my beloved, is taking care of all the outside details to allow me the amount of free untroubled time every day to do my work. I can’t think of anything else necessary to write except a story and the will to tell it.

– John Steinbeck 

A Writer’s Diary: Virginia Woolf on Earning from Books

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26 January 1930

When we made up our six months accounts, we found I had made about £3020 last year – the salary of a civil servant; a surprise to me, who was content with £200 for so many years. But I shall drop very heavily I think. The Waves won’t sell more than 2,000 copies.

– Virginia Woolf 

A Writer’s Diary: John Steinbeck

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13 February 1951

It must be told that my second work day is a bust as far as getting into the writing. I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terrors, the magics, the prayers, the straightening shyness that assails one. It is as though the words were not only indelible but that they spread out like dye in water and colour everything around them. A strange and mystic business, writing. Almost no progress has taken place since it was invented. The Book of the Dead is as good and as highly developed as anything in the 20th century and much better than most. And yet in spite of this lack of a continuing excellence, hundreds of thousands of people are in my shoes – praying feverishly for relief from their word pangs. And one thing we have lost – the courage to make new words or combinations. Somewhere the old bravado has slipped off into a gangrened scholarship. Oh! you can make words if you enclose them in quotation marks. This indicates that it is dialect and cute.

– John Steinbeck

A Writer’s Diary: Lord Byron on Writing

 

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24 November 1813

I do think the mighty stir made about scribbling and scribes, by themselves and others – a sign of effeminacy, degeneracy, and weakness. Who would write, who had any thing better to do?

– Lord Byron

A Writer’s Diary: Sylvia Plath on Understanding Market

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1 August 1950

It is hot, steamy and wet. It is raining. I am tempted to write a poem. But I remember what it said on one rejection slip: After a heavy rainfall, poems titled ‘Rain’ pour in from across the nation.

– Sylvia Plath

A Writer’s Diary: Sylvia Plath

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25 February 1957

Ted’s book of poems – The Hawk in the Rain – has won the first Harper’s publication contest under the 3 judges: W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender & Marianne Moore! Even as I write this, I am incredulous. The little scared people reject. The big unscared practising poets accept. I knew there would be something like this to welcome us to New York! We will publish a bookshelf of books between us before we perish! And a batch of brilliant healthy children! I can hardly wait to see the letter of award (which has not yet come) & learn details of publication. To smell the print off the pages!

– Sylvia Plath