Literary Birthday – 16 April – Diane Middlebrook

Diane Middlebrook was born 16 April 1939, and died 15 December 2007.

Seven Quotes

  1. When I get inside the book I lose all my bearings.
  2. Read the journals, letters, and autobiographies of writers you admire. Plath avidly read the diaries of Virginia Woolf; and Plath herself produced one of the great writer-journals of our century — The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath shows the slow arc of the writer-in-the making.
  3. Absolute silence. I’ve had arguments – kind of impolite ones – with my students. I don’t think that writers can write when some other art form is in the background. Writing demands so much of your attention that anything in the background is an interruption.
  4. With a biography there is no straight line; all is muddled. You don’t know what you know, you don’t know what you don’t know; if you find anything you make a note about it because some day it may find its partner. You have to have very good ways of keeping track of what you have found and where you have put it.
  5. Your readers expect a story, a story that answers the question, ‘So what, why do we care about what this person has done?’
  6. I also strongly recommend outlining your own work after it is written, because then you can see where the logic is breaking down, or where you repeat yourself. Shrinking it down improves it.
  7. I drink a pot of coffee first: that’s my drug; it makes me feel elated and smart.

Diane Middlebrook was an American biographer, poet, and teacher. She is best known for her biographies of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath.

Click here to see an image of the author.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 16th April 2014