Literary Birthday - 8 April
Happy Birthday, Barbara Kingsolver, born 8 April 1955
Barbara Kingsolver: Nine Quotes on Writing
- The only way to become a writer is to sit still and write.
- Any writer is well served by learning about the world… The great underestimated source of knowledge for writers is school.
- I learned to write by reading the kind of books I wished I’d written.
- I tend to wake up extremely early with words flooding into my brain. If I don’t get up, they’ll continue to accumulate in puddles, so it’s a relief to get to the keyboard and dump them out.
- The place where I write, upstairs in our farmhouse, has windows facing into the woods. The walls are lined with bookshelves. To avoid distraction, I write on a computer that is not connected to the internet. (I check email elsewhere in the house.) My companions in this room are the likes of Virginia Woolf and George Eliot, who peer down at me from the shelves, and a blue fish named Bruno. They are all very quiet.
- I spend months or years thinking about the shape of a novel and earning the authority to write it.
- I struggle with confidence, every time. I’m never completely sure I can write another book. Maybe my scope is too grand, my questions too hard, surely readers won’t want to follow me here. A novel is like a cathedral, it knocks you down to size when you enter into it.
- Pounding out a first draft is like hoeing a row of corn – you just keep your head down and concentrate on getting to the end. Revision is where fine art begins. It’s thrilling to take an ending and pull it backward like a shiny thread through the whole fabric of a manuscript, letting little glints shine through here and there.
- I spend my days tasting the insides of words, breathing life into sentences that swim away under their own power, stringing together cables of poetry to hold up a narrative arc.
Barbara Kingsolver: On Writing & Reading - Advice for a Teacher
Writing and reading are the two best ways humans have invented to participate with the larger world. Everybody in school wants to be popular: it’s so utterly human, to long for self-expression and connection with others. I would point out that writing and reading offer those things, and more. Writing is a kind of social networking in the way that it connects you with other people, but literature asks a bit more from you than Facebook, and offers more mature rewards. A great book can take you anywhere on earth, in the present or the past or the future. It’s the only mode of communication we have that actually lets you become another person by living inside his head, experiencing his problems and hopes. Fiction is a sort of inter-human magic, allowing you to travel into a scene and feel it tingle on your skin, see it in your mind’s eye and smell it with your mind’s nose! But forming these images from the printed page is a skill you have to develop when you’re fairly young, I think, or else it’s very difficult to read for pleasure later on. Writing is also a tool you can use your whole life: to help people, make them laugh, change their minds. You can do it for people in faraway countries, even for people who haven’t been born yet. Writing is a way to live forever.
Kingsolver is an American author who was named one the most important writers of the 20th Century by Writers Digest. She is the author of 14 books, including The Poisonwood Bible, Pigs in Heaven, and Flight Behaviour.
by Amanda Patterson for Writers Write
"Literacy is not a luxury, it is a right and a responsibility. If our world is to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century we must harness the energy and creativity of all our citizens."
President Bill Clinton on International Literacy Day, September 8th 1994
"Learning to read after so long is like walking into light from darkness."
A young woman attending a children’s school in Jahan Shah, Afghanistan. The overwhelming desire of illiterate young women to learn means that young mothers are attending their children’s lessons.
"I was supposed to be a welfare statistic… It was because of a teacher that I sit at this table. I remember her telling us one cold, miserable day that she could not make our clothing better; she could not provide us with food; she could not change the terrible segregated conditions under which we lived. She could introduce us to the world of reading, the world of books and that is what she did.
What a world! I visited Asia and Africa. I saw magnificent sunsets; I tasted exotic foods; I fell in love and danced in wonderful halls. I ran away with escaped slaves and stood beside a teenage martyr. I visited lakes and streams and composed lines of verse. I knew then that I wanted to help children do the same things; I wanted to weave magic."
From evidence submitted to The National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future - 1999
"When we point out illiterate mistakes, we are often aggressively instructed to ‘get a life’ by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves."