Words matter. These are the best James Salter Quotes, and they’re great for sharing with your friends.
The writers of books are companions in one’s life and, as such, are often more interesting than other companions.
As a writer, you aren’t anybody until you become somebody.
The notion that anything can be invented wholly and that these invented things are classified as ‘fiction’ and that other writing, presumably not made up, is called ‘nonfiction’ strikes me as a very arbitrary separation of things.
The writing workshops and programs that are everywhere have encouraged writing. And if that produces more writing, it’s also producing more readers of an elevated level. So all in all, a good thing.
There came a time when I felt I was not going to be satisfied with life unless I could write.
I don’t hold myself dictated to by what everyone is saying, by the tabloids or popular opinion. I don’t like bourgeois values. I say you find your own way to live.
You can’t be admitted to the ranks of writers of importance unless you have sales.
The publishers, as I remember at the very beginning of my career, wrote letters with their fountain pens. A letter is different from a phone call or fax. It’s a different kind of intimacy. That pervaded the entire business of writing and publishing.
It was not until I began to write a book called ‘Light Years’ that an editor really stepped in. The editor was Joe Fox at Random House, and he wound up editing a subsequent book.
It’s great to listen to men talk about sports or fights or war or even hunting sometimes, but the presence of the other, the presence of art and beauty, which crude masculinity seems to discount, is essential. Real civilization and real manhood seem to me to include those.
I love to write about Nabokov and also to think about him. I love his attitude that he is incomparable, his lofty judgments and general scorn of other writers – not all of them, of course.
The deepest instinct is to want to do something enduring, something worthwhile, and to be engaged by that, whether one achieves it or not.
I have said many times I don’t want to be considered one who once flew fighters. That’s not who I am. I devoted the subsequent 50 years – more – to writing.
I like aristocracy. I like the beauty of aristocracy. I like the hierarchical feeling.
I write down portions, maybe fragments, and perhaps an imperfect view of what I’m hoping to write. Out of that, I keep trying to find exactly what I want.
I spent the night on a sliver of rock high up on the east face of Long’s Peak, climbing with Tom Frost, and slept at the icy feet of the Dru, listening to the lightning crack above me and the thunder roll down. I only did it to write about it. I would never go up on the Grotto Wall for fun.
In a certain sense, a writer is an exile, an outsider, always reporting on things, and it is part of his life to keep on the move. Travel is natural.
Every nation feels itself to be superior, but in America it’s a jaunty feeling, and in some cases a rather ominous one among the super-patriots.
You have your brains, but it’s energy and desire that make you write a book.
My first book was published without any editorial advice. Nobody said, ‘You might do this or that,’ or ‘Why don’t we see more of this.’ I merely took the book and published it.
My idea of writing is of unflinching and continual effort, somehow trying to find the right words until you reach a point where you can make no further progress and you either have something or you don’t.
Happiness is often at its most intense when it is based on inequality.
Although I’ve made notes for things and even written synopses sitting in trains or on park benches, for the complete composition of things I need absolute solitude, preferably an empty house.
‘The Paris Review’ was always the pinnacle: it was the place to be published. You were thrilled if you were published in ‘The Paris Review,’ and George Plimpton himself was practically mythical. He was a legendary figure.
A film writer is very much like a party girl. While you’re good-looking and still unlined, the possibilities seem endless. But your appeal doesn’t last long and you’re quickly discarded.
If you read a book about school – someone else’s book – you always translate it into your own school experiences. It’s describing the student: he’s bewildered and lost in a large crowd in a university classroom. You’ll visualize that from your own experiences. So, everything you know is what you’re really writing.
You can write about other people and their ideas and life without having lived it, but even your perception of that is going to be colored by what you know and what you experience. And this is undeniable.
Your parents are the parents you know best. Your brother and sister, if you have them, are the brother and sister you know best. They may not be the ones you like the best. They may not be the most interesting, but they are the closest and probably the clearest to you.
There are writers for whom names mean nothing; everybody could be called John and Elizabeth, and the writing would be just as good. A name, of course, is like a piece of clothing, isn’t it? It gives you an impression right away.
Certain people can keep a word tune, so to speak, and certain people cannot. And, above all, certain people can tell a story, and other people can’t. They don’t hear that point where something else has to come.
I’ve made an effort to nurture the feminine in myself. I don’t mean overtly, but in terms of response to things.
I’m a ‘frotteur,’ someone who likes to rub words in his hand, to turn them around and feel them, to wonder if that really is the best word possible. Does that word in this sentence have any electric potential? Does it do anything? Too much electricity will make your reader’s hair frizzy. There’s a question of pacing.
The whole joy of writing comes from the opportunity to go over it and make it good, one way or another.
I find the most difficult part of writing is to get it down initially because what you have written is usually so terrible that it’s disheartening; you don’t want to go on. That’s what I think is hard – the discouragement that comes from seeing what you have done.
There is no situation like the open road, and seeing things completely afresh. I’m used to traveling. It’s not a question of meeting or seeing new faces particularly, or hearing new stories, but of looking at life in a different way. It’s the curtain coming up on another act.
I think you can be taught to write. You can’t be taught to be a good writer. For that, you have to bring something to it, yourself, something that can’t be given to you.
I wasted time writing films. I don’t look back on those years as lost, but it wasn’t what I should have been doing.
On the Internet, everyone is writing. There is a great flowering of writing.
I always knew writing a novel was a great thing.
In 1957, I decided: write or perish.