Literary Birthday – 16 April – Carol Bly

Carol Bly was born 16 April 1930, and died 21 December  2007.


  1. The principle of literature is devotion to the particulars of life.
  2. Your soul needs to be lonely so that its strangest elements can moil about, curl and growl and jump, fail and get triumphant, all inside you. Sociable people have the most trouble hearing their unconscious. They have trouble getting rid of clichés because clichés are sociable.
  3. No one is shallow and vulgar forever; sooner or later the whole species likes to be profound.
  4. A  casual attitude towards lying in creative non-fiction is now being taught at most American universities. I think it should be stopped.
  5. The secret of literature, which conventional people don’t guess, is that writers are forever looking for the surprising revelation – not for reinforcement of collective wisdom.
  6. Writers do the hard psychological work of trying not to be ignorant.
  7. The more original a short-story writer, the odder looking the assortment of things he or she puts together for a story.
  8. There isn’t a thought or feeling that doesn’t alter or deepen when written. We are a writing animal. That is why all of us feel we have a book inside us. It isn’t an illusion. We have got a book inside us.
  9. It is very difficult to teach navigation theory to someone who clings to the shore.
  10. An essay is a work of literary art which has a minimum of one anecdote and one universal idea.

Carol Bly was an award-winning American author of short stories, essays, and non-fiction works on writing. She was also a teacher. She is the author of Beyond the Writers’ Workshop: New Ways to Write Creative Nonfiction.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 16th April 2015