A trip to Greece had me pondering many things: my writing career, future plots, the sagacity of the ancient Greeks, and the hour of my next delicious cappuccino freddo. Of course, I also contemplated quitting my job and traveling the world—until I remembered I have a mortgage and 2 children in college. *Sigh* Traveling to an ancient civilization has a way of making one think profound thoughts—or maybe that’s the ouzo talking.
In an effort to extend my Greek experience, I’ve found 9 Greek quotes that apply to writers. Oh, and you get pictures too!
Know thyself: Some writers suffer from delusions of grandeur ( my one-draft-only novels are God’s gift to literature ). Others suffer from anxiety and doubt about the worthiness or their story or skill. Both are B.A.D. Thinking you’re great prevents you from improving, and not believing you’re any good prevents you from taking the risks needed to complete a novel or query an agent. Do you know what you’re good at, what you should improve, what craft knowledge you lack, and what you should probably hire out for?
I know one thing, that I know nothing: A great phrase to remember when inclined to NOT check your facts. I check and re-check, then check again. Also an apt phrase when you’re trying to figure out the magical and mystifying world of agents, editors, publishers, SEO, marketing, and Amazon algorithms.
I grow old always learning many things: Never stop learning. Never close your mind or heart to new ideas and perspectives ( and new foods and beverages). A closed mind is boring, irresponsible, and reveals your ignorance. I often see closed-mindedness at writing groups and writing conferences—young and old alike. Well-crafted, witty, and intriguing prose that makes you laugh, challenges conventionality, and stirs the imagination is not written by the narrow minded.
Nothing in excess: Too many adverbs, adjectives, repetitive phrases, vague words? Too much backstory? Too much telling instead of showing? Too many writing blocks? Too many days avoiding your story? Too much posting on Facebook and Twitter instead of writing? ( I’m fairly certain this proverb does not apply to coffee-drinking. )
You can’t get blood out of a stone: Many writers tell me how many ideas they have. So many many ideas. Ideas don’t necessarily make a novel. Ideas are nebulous. Writing locks ideas down, gives them form and substance. An idea is not a plot. If your fabulous idea doesn’t work then move on. This blood-stone proverb applies to all those buying Twitter followers. You ain’t gettin’ no RT’s or readers or social media friends ( blood ) with purchased followers ( stone ).
Hasten slowly. Write with urgency and diligence. Query with perseverance and carefulness. Edit with determination and thoroughness. Love this phrase. In a world concerned with speed and short cuts this proverb provides a pithy recipe for success.
What is the fastest? The mind. It travels through everything: Especially our fingers on the keyboard!! This phrase speaks to all thinkers—be they creative types or not. For writers, our brain is our tool. Writers think through their fingers—it’s the highway to our imagination.
Naught without labor: Many newbie writers don’t want to hear this. Labor is not fun, it’s hard work. Newbies are often too quick to finish their novel. They dash through a draft or two, sprint over edits, sling it up on Amazon or zip out a query like it’s a race. I’ve read posts and tweets where writers claim they edited their novel in a day. Or wrote a query letter in an hour! WTF? They clearly do not understand how to edit or query.
Literature is the soul’s physician: Ooohhh! Writers are doctors. We make readers laugh and cry. We provide emotion and offer new perspectives. We make you reconsider and feed your head. We challenge and inspire and provoke. Heady stuff.