John Muir – Naturalist and Author

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“A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease.” John Muir.

I recently went to Sequoia National Forest and Kings Canyon with my son. What a great time we had among the trees sharing in nature! We saw a few bears, explored a cavern, and wandered through the giant sequoias. We even had a chance to talk about John Muir.

John Muir was a Scottish-born American naturalist, author, and early advocate of preservation of wilderness in the United States. His letters, essays, and books tell of his adventures in nature. His activism helped to save the Yosemite Valley, Sequoia National Park and other wilderness areas.

One of his claims to fame was a trip he took with a president. During a cross-country trip in 1903, Muir and Roosevelt spent three nights camping in Yosemite. The president recalled one of those days as “the grandest day of my life.”

Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir at Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park, 1903

Muir was a writer besides being a naturalist. Muir’s friend, zoologist Henry Fairfield Osborn, writes that Muir’s style of writing did not come to him easily, but only with intense effort. “Daily he rose at 4:30 o’clock, and after a simple cup of coffee labored incessantly . . . . he groans over his labors, he writes and rewrites and interpolates.” Osborn notes that he preferred using the simplest English language, and therefore admired above all the writings of CarlyleEmerson and Thoreau. “He is a very firm believer in Thoreau and starts by reading deeply of this author.” His secretary, Marion Randall Parsons, noted that “composition was always slow and laborious for him. . . . Each sentence, each phrase, each word, underwent his critical scrutiny, not once but twenty times before he was satisfied to let it stand.” Muir often told her, “This business of writing books is a long, tiresome, endless job.”

I find that I have some of the same opinions as Muir. Writing can be long and tiresome at times. We writers labor over each sentence and word in order to perfect our compositions for the reader. Still, writing is a worthwhile endeavor. I think the struggle is to find those word gems. When found, those treasures help us crystallize our own thoughts and feelings about a subject. In doing so, others will be able to visualize what we mean with words.

Quotations About Writing

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Here are some meaningful quotes about writing. Read them and be inspired.

Quotes About Writing

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Great quotes from the masters. Thoreau had a great way of describing how you need to write when you feel inspired. What are your interpretations of these sayings? Share your thoughts.

“A book is simply the container of an idea—like a bottle; what is inside the book is what matters.”
Angela Carter

“When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people, not characters. A character is a caricature.”
Ernest Hemingway

“Write while the heat is in you. … The writer who postpones the recording of his thoughts uses an iron which has cooled to burn a hole with.”
—Henry David Thoreau

Quotes About Writing

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Here are some quotes from great writers. Let them inspire you, stir you up to do some writing today. Today is a great day to start that story you’ve been putting off. The Ray Bradbury quotes are especially inspiring.

“People say, ‘What advice do you have for people who want to be writers?’ I say, they don’t really need advice, they know they want to be writers, and they’re gonna do it. Those people who know that they really want to do this and are cut out for it, they know it.”
—R.L. Stine, WD

“I don’t need an alarm clock. My ideas wake me.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens. Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“Let the world burn through you. Throw the prism light, white hot, on paper.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

“Remember: Plot is no more than footprints left in the snow after your characters have run by on their way to incredible destinations.”
—Ray Bradbury, WD

Quotes About Writing

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I must admit, I have hit a rut on the writing road. I have been putting hours into getting a book published, which has caused me to put a story I’ve been writing aside for a time. I needed a little inspiration. Here are some great quotes about the craft of writing. This will motivate you to get writing again or to think twice about the profession.

The road to hell is paved with works-in-progress.”
—Philip Roth

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
—Stephen King

“To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD

“Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

“All readers come to fiction as willing accomplices to your lies. Such is the basic goodwill contract made the moment we pick up a work of fiction.”
—Steve Almond, WD

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

“It ain’t whatcha write, it’s the way atcha write it.”
—Jack Kerouac, WD

“Not a wasted word. This has been a main point to my literary thinking all my life.”
—Hunter S. Thompson

“When I sit down to write a book, I do not say to myself, ‘I am going to produce a work of art.’ I write it because there is some lie that I want to expose, some fact to which I want to draw attention, and my initial concern is to get a hearing.”
—George Orwell

“I don’t care if a reader hates one of my stories, just as long as he finishes the book.”
—Roald Dahl, WD

“The freelance writer is a man who is paid per piece or per word or perhaps.”
—Robert Benchley

“We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

“Making people believe the unbelievable is no trick; it’s work. … Belief and reader absorption come in the details: An overturned tricycle in the gutter of an abandoned neighborhood can stand for everything.”
—Stephen King, WD

“If a nation loses its storytellers, it loses its childhood.”
—Peter Handke

“To defend what you’ve written is a sign that you are alive.”
—William Zinsser, WD

“If I had not existed, someone else would have written me, Hemingway, Dostoyevsky, all of us.”
—William Faulkner

“For your born writer, nothing is so healing as the realization that he has come upon the right word.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen

“Each writer is born with a repertory company in his head. Shakespeare has perhaps 20 players. … I have 10 or so, and that’s a lot. As you get older, you become more skillful at casting them.”
—Gore Vidal

“We’re past the age of heroes and hero kings. … Most of our lives are basically mundane and dull, and it’s up to the writer to find ways to make them interesting.”
—John Updike, WD

“The greatest part of a writer’s time is spent in reading, in order to write; a man will turn over half a library to make one book.”
—Samuel Johnson

“If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. Or, if proper usage gets in the way, it may have to go. I can’t allow what we learned in English composition to disrupt the sound and rhythm of the narrative.”
—Elmore Leonard

“Write. Rewrite. When not writing or rewriting, read. I know of no shortcuts.”
—Larry L. King, WD

“Know your literary tradition, savor it, steal from it, but when you sit down to write, forget about worshiping greatness and fetishizing masterpieces.”
—Allegra Goodman

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