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E. L. Doctorow Quotes

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E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.”

Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.

— E. L. Doctorow



E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”

Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing.”

Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “The three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport, and a library card.”

The three most important documents a free society gives are a birth certificate, a passport, and a library card.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.”

The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. Sometimes you run over a drunk who’s lain down and fallen asleep on the warm pavement. I mean, do you keep going, or what?”

Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. Sometimes you run over a drunk who’s lain down and fallen asleep on the warm pavement. I mean, do you keep going, or what?

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Planning to write is not writing.”

Planning to write is not writing.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “I’ve known several cases of writers who decide to write about something and they research the hell out of it and when they’re ready to write, they can’t move because they are so burdened. I start writing. Whatever I need somehow comes to hand.”

I’ve known several cases of writers who decide to write about something and they research the hell out of it and when they’re ready to write, they can’t move because they are so burdened. I start writing. Whatever I need somehow comes to hand.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.”

Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “My memories pale as I prevail upon them again and again. They become more and more ghostly. I fear nothing so much as losing them altogether and having only my blank endless mind to live in.”

My memories pale as I prevail upon them again and again. They become more and more ghostly. I fear nothing so much as losing them altogether and having only my blank endless mind to live in.

— E. L. Doctorow



E. L. Doctorow Quote: “A book begins as a private excitement of the mind.”

A book begins as a private excitement of the mind.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing.”

One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “When I’m writing, I like to seal everything off and face the wall, not to look outside the window. The only way out is through the sentences.”

When I’m writing, I like to seal everything off and face the wall, not to look outside the window. The only way out is through the sentences.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.”

Writers are not just people who sit down and write. They hazard themselves. Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader – not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “The writer isn’t made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.”

The writer isn’t made in a vacuum. Writers are witnesses. The reason we need writers is because we need witnesses to this terrifying century.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “The act of composition is a series of discoveries.”

The act of composition is a series of discoveries.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Every major work of art is a transgression, but the artist is not necessarily, by nature, a transgressor.”

Every major work of art is a transgression, but the artist is not necessarily, by nature, a transgressor.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “A new reader shouldn’t be able to find you in your work, though someone who’s read more may begin to.”

A new reader shouldn’t be able to find you in your work, though someone who’s read more may begin to.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “All over the world today, not just in the totalitarian countries, assiduous functionaries in Ministries of Truth are clubbing history dumb and rendering language insensible.”

All over the world today, not just in the totalitarian countries, assiduous functionaries in Ministries of Truth are clubbing history dumb and rendering language insensible.

— E. L. Doctorow



E. L. Doctorow Quote: “The poem is a cry of the unborn heart. Yes, because the poem perfectly embodies the world, there is no world without poem.”

The poem is a cry of the unborn heart. Yes, because the poem perfectly embodies the world, there is no world without poem.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “History is the present. That’s why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth.”

History is the present. That’s why every generation writes it anew. But what most people think of as history is its end product, myth.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “The Shadow had no imagination. He neither looked at naked women nor thought of ridding the world of dictators like Hitler or Mussolini.”

The Shadow had no imagination. He neither looked at naked women nor thought of ridding the world of dictators like Hitler or Mussolini.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “I am telling you what I know – words have music and if you are a musician you will write to hear them.”

I am telling you what I know – words have music and if you are a musician you will write to hear them.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “We’re always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy.”

We’re always attracted to the edges of what we are, out by the edges where it’s a little raw and nervy.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “A writer of books has to admit that film is the enemy, and that in my case I have been sleeping with the enemy.”

A writer of books has to admit that film is the enemy, and that in my case I have been sleeping with the enemy.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Poems have ideas. The ideas of poems come out of their emotions and their emotions are carried on images.”

Poems have ideas. The ideas of poems come out of their emotions and their emotions are carried on images.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “I thought of myself as a writer for years before I got around to writing anything.”

I thought of myself as a writer for years before I got around to writing anything.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Congress is so beholden to the money that any solution in the general interest will be frustrated and subverted by the corporate interests who feel they will be damaged by progress, fair play and justice.”

Congress is so beholden to the money that any solution in the general interest will be frustrated and subverted by the corporate interests who feel they will be damaged by progress, fair play and justice.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “It was evident to him that the world composed and recomposed itself constantly in an endless process of dissatisfaction.”

It was evident to him that the world composed and recomposed itself constantly in an endless process of dissatisfaction.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “We are all good friends. Friendship is what endures. Shared ideals, respect for the whole character of a human being.”

We are all good friends. Friendship is what endures. Shared ideals, respect for the whole character of a human being.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Someone dying asks if there is life after death. Yes, comes the answer, only not yours.”

Someone dying asks if there is life after death. Yes, comes the answer, only not yours.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Uncharged with invisible meaning, the visible is nothing, mere clay; and without visible circumstance, a territory, to connect to, our spirit is shapeless, nameless, and undefined.”

Uncharged with invisible meaning, the visible is nothing, mere clay; and without visible circumstance, a territory, to connect to, our spirit is shapeless, nameless, and undefined.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “And so do people pass out of one’s life and all you can remember of them is their humanity, a poor fitful thing of no dominion, like your own.”

And so do people pass out of one’s life and all you can remember of them is their humanity, a poor fitful thing of no dominion, like your own.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there’s only narrative.”

There is no longer any such thing as fiction or nonfiction; there’s only narrative.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “I’ve always felt, as a writer, that radicals are fascinating because they’re relations, they have a place in the American family. They’re the relatives everyone wishes would go away. They’re the embarrassments to decorum and good taste.”

I’ve always felt, as a writer, that radicals are fascinating because they’re relations, they have a place in the American family. They’re the relatives everyone wishes would go away. They’re the embarrassments to decorum and good taste.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Satire’s nature is to be one-sided, contemptuous of ambiguity, and so unfairly selective as to find in the purity of ridicule an inarguable moral truth.”

Satire’s nature is to be one-sided, contemptuous of ambiguity, and so unfairly selective as to find in the purity of ridicule an inarguable moral truth.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Communists have no respect for people, only for positions.”

Communists have no respect for people, only for positions.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “I am led to the proposition that there is no fiction or nonfiction as we commonly understand the distinction: there is only narrative.”

I am led to the proposition that there is no fiction or nonfiction as we commonly understand the distinction: there is only narrative.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Time seems to me a drift, a shifting of sand. And my mind is shifting with it. I am wearing away.”

Time seems to me a drift, a shifting of sand. And my mind is shifting with it. I am wearing away.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “The voice of the Constitution is the inescapably solemn self-consciousness of the people giving the law unto themselves.”

The voice of the Constitution is the inescapably solemn self-consciousness of the people giving the law unto themselves.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Longing, the hope for fulfillment, is the one unwavering passion of the world’s commerce.”

Longing, the hope for fulfillment, is the one unwavering passion of the world’s commerce.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Like art and politics, gangsterism is a very important avenue of assimilation into society.”

Like art and politics, gangsterism is a very important avenue of assimilation into society.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “We are able to walk on air, but only as long as our illusion supports us.”

We are able to walk on air, but only as long as our illusion supports us.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “When you’re working well, you don’t do research. Whatever you need comes to you.”

When you’re working well, you don’t do research. Whatever you need comes to you.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “Writing is immensely difficult. The short forms especially.”

Writing is immensely difficult. The short forms especially.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing. To put myself in the position of writing to find out what I was writing. I did that with ‘World’s Fair’ as with all of them. The inventions of the book come as discoveries.”

One of the things I had to learn as a writer was to trust the act of writing. To put myself in the position of writing to find out what I was writing. I did that with ‘World’s Fair’ as with all of them. The inventions of the book come as discoveries.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “It proposed that human beings, by the act of making witness, warranted times and places for their existence other than the time and place they were living through.”

It proposed that human beings, by the act of making witness, warranted times and places for their existence other than the time and place they were living through.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “I have committed many sins in my life. This precise sin-the sin against poets-is without absolution.”

I have committed many sins in my life. This precise sin-the sin against poets-is without absolution.

— E. L. Doctorow


E. L. Doctorow Quote: “I like commas. I detest semi-colons – I don’t think they belong in a story. And I gave up quotation marks long ago. I found I didn’t need them, they were fly-specks on the page.”

I like commas. I detest semi-colons – I don’t think they belong in a story. And I gave up quotation marks long ago. I found I didn’t need them, they were fly-specks on the page.

— E. L. Doctorow

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