Category Archives: Quotes and Quotations

someone said it oh so well :)


startsayingnoI’m still here, going through a massive re-assessment of work and life balance, and what’s feasible health permitting.

Also, reading and writing, as always. 🙂 Just re-orienting myself according to Captain Sparrow’s Compass 🙂


Filed under Personal, Quotes and Quotations, Uncategorized

About Brian Aldiss


When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults.

Brian Aldiss

I just can’t Not Love an author quoted to say things like that.

Brian Aldiss is a character, as you can see from the interviews I linked below. He likes to provoke a reaction, and has been known to openly criticise the British literary establishment and its disdain for ‘genre’  – but Aldiss also doesn’t approve of genre-only readers.

…”I [the interviewer] quote to him something he wrote in 1990: “Just as the [literary] establishment is philistine about science, the bulk of the science-fiction readership is philistine about literature.” “Ha!” he cries gleefully, “offends both parties.”…


And he has always known the value of the what-ifs and speculative fiction and how vast and fruitful the scifi genre could be. It’s more than just space ships and flights of fancy, new world with new creatures: more a mirror of what could be, or should be, if norms were challenged, or refused.

…”while it [science fiction] may take place in an alternate or future world, it deals with the present.”…

Brian Aldiss’ website is here, with all the information you can wish for, journals extracts, blog, latest publications and snippets of past and new work.

You can also find a detailed list of his work in the ISFDB, here.

What do you think?

Suggestions for reading*:

The Moment of Eclipse – short stories collection, this one from the 70s, but any of his collections, really.

Hothouse – symbiosis! With fungi!

NonStop – familiar seen by primitive eyes…

*it’s been several years since I read his books, so I will have to have a re-read before I can be more specific 🙂

1 Comment

Filed under Authors, Fiction, Genre, Links, Quotes and Quotations

Umberto Eco on ‘taste for plot’

Narrativity presumes a special taste for plot. And this taste for plot was always very present in the Anglo-Saxon countries and that explains their high quality of detective novels.

Umberto Eco


Is it true?

With all my admiration for Eco, I wouldn’t want to dismiss other nations and cultures’ sense for plot.


Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, narrative, Quotes and Quotations

Novel writing

This quotation is so good, impossible not to share it.

For myself, the only rule regarding writing a novel I believe in is: sit down and write.

I’m not terribly good at following it, and I happily say that many books on writing available out there are very good, helpful, a good source of various and varied advice…but, at the end of the day (or at the beginning, whatever your preference), the one thing that never changes is sitting down – metaphorically, if you can write standing up, you’re more than welcome and it’s certainly healthier for the circulation and spine – and writing.

My main issue is switching off the outside world, the one with bills wanting paid, family you worry about, and all that goes on in the world.

But this quote says a lot 🙂

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.

W. Somerset Maugham


Filed under Authors, Quotes and Quotations, Writing

Iris Murdoch’s quote

Something to think about as we work on our writing 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Authors, Quotes and Quotations

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 2,300 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 4 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes and Quotations

How does writing happen?

I recently read an E.B. White’s interview, in The Paris Review.

The title of the interview is: The Art of the Essay N. 1. I like writing essays, and I’ve written everything from strictly academic essays to creative essays, and as in many other things, I’m always learning and improving. I knew E.B. White as the White in Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style, which is a must-have elegant and precise book on style and grammar and many other tips on the use of English language in writing. But I never made the connection with the White of Stuart Little and Charlotte’s Web. Silly me.

It’s a long interview and it paints an interesting portrait not only of the writer but also of the times and ideas of his writing. I’m looking forward to read some of his other work, now, even though my List of Things to Read gets ever longer.

In particular, I fell completely in love with this passage:

Delay is natural to a writer. He is like a surfer—he bides his time, waits for the perfect wave on which to ride in. Delay is instinctive with him. He waits for the surge (of emotion? of strength? of courage?) that will carry him along. I have no warm-up exercises, other than to take an occasional drink. I am apt to let something simmer for a while in my mind before trying to put it into words. I walk around, straightening pictures on the wall, rugs on the floor—as though not until everything in the world was lined up and perfectly true could anybody reasonably expect me to set a word down on paper.

See, see? It’s not procrastination, at all! That’s what is, the waiting around for the right words to come in, the looking out of the window, the desperate sudden need to wash the previous week’s dishes, and yes, that too, the blurry windows have to be cleaned, now, and the mud on those shoes, look at that, can’t possibly be tolerated, and, and! I have to go buy groceries, right now.

Okay, yes, I’m being facetious. But I love that paragraph, I adore the sense of ‘me’ as a writer, the refusal to bend for someone else’s expectations of how writing happens.

Writing is hard work, and it’s different for each of us.

We shouldn’t let someone else’s expectations dictate how and when we write (every morning, every day, three pages per day, from 3 to 5, in chronological order, following an outline, mind mapping, and so forth). We need to experiment, yes, and listen to advice, and pay attention to our circumstances: for example, no point in pretending to write each day 10.000 words, if we have a day job, or a family, or other responsibilities. We’re just setting us up for failure, or for complaining.

But most importantly, we need to discover and then nurture and support how does writing happen for us. I still haven’t found a reliable routine, but I’ll keep experimenting.

Have you found your way to make your writing happen? I’d like to know 🙂

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes and Quotations, Writing

A definition of man (as in human being)

Pascal on the Paradox of Humanity

What sort of freak then is man! How novel, how monstrous, how chaotic, how paradoxical, how prodigious! Judge of all things, feeble earthworm, repository of truth, sink of doubt and error, the glory and refuse of the universe!

Blaise Pascal, Pensées.

Trans. A. J. Krailsheimer. New York: Penguin, 1995, 34

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes and Quotations

Read, reading, will read

Right now I’m reading Scotland’s Black Death by Karen Jillings (thanks to James Robertson!) which is really useful for long term project research.

Also re-reading Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics and If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller . I say re-reading because I read them already in Italian, many years ago, and reading them again in English is strangely challenging.

Read love songs for the shy and cynical by Robert Shearman. Practically inhaled them, to be honest, and will have to come back to them at leisure. Quirky, slightly crazy, sometimes puzzling but always touching that special spot, where love hides and hurts. Imaginative, too.  Oh, what a wonderful media short stories are 😀

Quotation by Robert Shearman (who is a very entertaining, pleasant guest speaker, btw):

“Only mediocrity is consistent.”

Done research for a project. Letting it stew for a while now. Doing more research on long term project, or better, organising the research I already have and see where that takes me. Not much writing per se. Sometimes I have too much choice (I love my stories, so there) and I don’t know where to start from. So I panic instead. Ops.

Considering a few submissions. Making a writing plan for the next 12 months.

Boooring blog-post of the day brought to you by massive ingestion of Covonia (it’s soo good).

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes and Quotations, Writing

Quotes: The Manual of Detection, and comments

Just finished reading “The Manual of Detection”, by Jedediah Berry.

Quote: “The diagram was a fairytale, written by a forgetful old man with wild white hair, and it whirled like a record on a phonograph.”

The story has a well thought-out, solid structure, the chapters’ of the book mirroring the chapters of the Manual in the book (yay metafiction), and a vivid juxtaposition of the circus as a metaphore of chaos and dreamland vs. order and ‘detection’, yin and yang needing each other for everyone’s safe living. Beautiful, imaginative dialogue and use of black umbrellas here and there. But it failed me completely on the characters:(  in as much as they are functional, I didn’t feel any symphaty or empathy, for any of them. They fit nicely in the plot they serve, they have motivation…but I wanted to fall for them, and didn’t, not even a little crush 😦

Absolutely a book to read, anyway.

Leave a comment

Filed under Quotes and Quotations, Review