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“Buildings fall; even the earth perishes. What was yesterday a cornfield is today a bungalow. But words, if properly used, seem able to live for ever.”

— Virginia Woolf


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When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.

I think that’s crap.

So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.

Shonda Rhimes, Commencement Address at Dartmouth, June 8, 2014 (all the transcript here)



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“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”

— Bertrand Russell


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“I don’t have a moral plan, I’m a Canadian.”

— David Cronenberg


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“It often amazes me how often I step into a studio/room/kitchen/garden room with a fellow songwriter on an uninspired morning and leave after dark with something – albeit not always the great song we hoped for – but a song, we write a song.
The only advice I have ever been foolish enough to give to a young songwriter is…finish the song.”

— Ricky Ross of Deacon Blue


“Edward Smith: Does that mean you don’t have to think when you’re painting?
Andy Warhol: No, you can listen to really good music.
Edward Smith: So, what, painting is an excuse to listen to really good music?
Andy Warhol: Oh, yeah.”
Tagged: Andy Warhol, quotes,


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“Work for the good of your character, do your character. Don’t worry, the script will take care of itself.”

— John Cassavetes (via)


“Before you start obeying rules, start by breaking them. I made ‘The Deer Hunter’ as a young man. If I had gone through a film school before making this movie, I would never have made it. I would have been too afraid. Even today, the script girls say to me, ‘Michael, this is not going to work. You’re crossing the eye line.’ I still don’t know what the ‘eye line’ means!”

— Michael Cimino, from Battling the Past: an encounter with Michael Cimino


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That’s what’s great about being a writer, every 10 years you become somebody else.

Hanif Kureishi


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“We should meet in another life, we should meet in air, me and you.”

— Sylvia Plath (via theunquotables)

(via kassandrajensen)

Tagged: sylvia plath, quotes,


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Let us first say what photography is not.
A photograph is not a painting, a poem, a symphony, a dance. It is not just a pretty picture, not an exercise in contortionist techniques and sheer print quality.
It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term: selectivity.

Berenice Abbott, from “Universal Photo Almanac”, 1951


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“Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.”

— Chuck Close


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“Dear God - she prayed - let me be something every minute of every hour of my life. Let me be gay; let me be sad. Let me be cold; let me be warm. Let me be hungry…have too much to eat. Let me be ragged or well dressed. Let me be sincere - be deceitful. Let me be truthful; let me be a liar. Let me be honorable and let me sin.
Only let me be something every blessed minute. And when I sleep, let me dream all the time so that not one little piece of living is ever lost.”

— Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


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“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

— Kurt Vonnegut


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roxanegay: My favorite first line varies but today it’s from Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay:

In later years, holding forth to an interviewer or to an audience of aging fans at a comic book convention, Sam Clay liked to declare, apropos of his and Joe Kavalier’s greatest creation, that back when he was a boy, sealed and hog-tied inside the airtight vessel known as Brooklyn, New York, he had been haunted by dreams of Harry Houdini.

I love this sentence because it does so much work. The sentence is a story in and of itself and reveals Chabon’s amazing talent for long, meandering sentences that are satisfying in both sound and substance.

(Source: The Atlantic)

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