You were innovating out of necessity?
I never knew if the stupider things we did or the more traditional things we did would work. I didn’t know if the stupid stuff would alienate people. I didn’t know if the traditional stuff would be more appealing. And then, when I look back on it now, of course the answer is, you want to do the weird thing.
David Letterman / NYT
~ Elliott Erwitt / Guardian
It’s not really about how much you have, but rather about how much you make out of it.
~ Ai Wei Wei / Interview
So I was on my own—totally. And there’s something good about that. Because not only did you dig deeper into yourself, but adversity—in other words, not getting acknowledgements from outside—brings out the best in you. To react to it and to become better.
~ Agnes Denes / Interview
I would tend to say that I do what I do as well as possible and that most people don’t.
~ Jasper Johns / Interview
Working is very important to me. Probably because as a child I was taught that work was good. I don’t believe it intellectually but I identify with that idea. So it’s probably just like a habit.
~ Jasper Johns / Interview
I think the inspirational stuff comes from yourself. You have to believe in yourself. As you once said, in something I read about you, there’s a quote from Sylvia Plath: “The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” You have to trust your own voices and your own confidence, in spite of criticism. What makes an artist’s career is not the immediate trajectory, acceptance, or rejection; it’s being able to stay in there and have a career in art and stick to your voice, follow where your imagination takes you, and not respond to what sells or what people encourage you to do. For people who want to be artists, I think that’s the hardest lesson to learn.
~ Donald Woodman / Interview
I cleaned houses in my youth for a number of years and I always did a good job, because I was conscientious.
~ Elizabeth Strout / Guardian, 31st October 2020
“… You have to find what you can do better than anyone else and what you have in yourself that no-one else has.”
~ Wim Wenders / Louisiana Channel
“… so I think that discipline is a massive component of creating a body of work.”
~ Rachel Cusk / Louisiana Channel
The only counsel that is acceptable is to work. To work very hard… until you discover the kind of writer you want to be.
Mario Vargas Llosa / Louisiana Channel
Can you imagine getting paid really, really well to do something that you didn’t love to do? What a horrible curse that would be.
~ Tom Sachs / Louisiana Channel
Some people like what you do, some people hate what you do but most people don’t give a damn.
~ Charles Bukowski
“… but then I think well, you know, my wish as a writer… is to write masterpieces. Why shouldn’t I work that hard? Why should it be simple? … Why shouldn’t it take four years?… Art is heavy lifting… I don’t mind sweating.”
~ Richard Ford / Louisiana Channel
“You have to live your life if you’re going to do original work. Your work will come out of an authentic life …”
~ Louise Glück
People like to be busy. This is an absolute fundamental thing: we like to be skilled, we like to whittle, we like to carve.
~ James Suzman / Guardian, 4th October 2020
Is there anything you know now about your career that you wish you knew when you started out?
That being a novelist is no fun, so it’s worth at least trying to be a playwright. Then again, fun isn’t high on my list; it’s more of a self-respect agenda. As Richard Ford said in the Guardian: “Don’t take any shit if you can possibly help it.”
~ Hilary Mantel / Guardian, 4th October 2020
I hate a job half done. Even if it’s housework, you have to do a thorough job. I don’t have a dishwasher because I prefer to do it myself.
~ Margaret Howell / Guardian, 3rd October 2020
The money isn’t very important. The idea is to take care of your family and have enough left over to buy books and go to the movies once a week. As a goal in life, ‘getting rich’ strikes me as fairly ludicrous. The goal is to do what God made you for and not hurt anyone if you can help it.
~ Stephen King / NYT, August 13, 2000
What you don’t necessarily realize when you start selling your time by the hour is that what you’re really selling is your life.
~ Barbara Ehrenreich
“Work is meant to be seen.”
~ Joni Mitchell / New Yorker, October 16th 2019
It takes minimal life experience to know that happiness comes from a small number of disproportionately important things. Perhaps as few as two. One is a fulfilling job. The other is a vital private life, which could mean, according to taste, devotion to one person or what George Michael hailed as “fast love”.
~ Janan Ganesh / FT, February 7 2020
But saving my mental energies helps me achieve the day’s greatest pleasure: periods of intense, unbroken concentration.
~ Edward Lucas / Times, February 03, 2020
‘…It’s the long haul for you. You’ve got to understand that. You will have moderate success in your career. But it is the long haul that counts.’ And he was absolutely right.
~ Brian Cox / Financial Times, 17th January 2020
“What could a man want that is better than poverty? I do not say misery, any more than I mean the work without hope of the modern proletarian. But I do not see that one could desire more than poverty with an active leisure.”
~ Albert Camus
“For love of bustle is not industry, – it is only the restlessness of a hunted mind”
“It’s a profession, a job,” he says. “There’s a terrible preciousness about writing. I think that if you write, you’ve just got to get on and write.”
~ Robert Harris / Financial Times, 20th December 2019
“Nothing is so certain as that the evils of idleness can be shaken off by hard work.”
And what was it that I most liked about my work? That I had no boss, no employees, no rivals, no competitors—the freedom of being a writer? That it was a way of dealing with my life, transforming my experiences, finding ways to understand it—recording life’s joys, making its tribulations bearable, and also, in writing, easing the passage of time? Making a living this way, my own way, self-employed—that was something to like.
Paul Theroux / On the Plain of Snakes
Three meals a day. Work hard. Keep yourself clean. Get enough sleep. What else is there?
~ Antonio Pierro
“Human life is truly a short affair. It is better to live doing the things that you like. It is foolish to live within this dream of a world seeing unpleasantness and doing only things that you do not like.”
~ / Hagakure: The Book of the Samurai
“The main thing is to be satisfied with your work yourself. It’s useless to have an audience happy if you are not happy.”
~ Aaron Copland