Literary Birthday – 16 March – John Darnielle

Happy Birthday, John Darnielle, born 16 March 1967.


  1. You can get really good reads on your dreams if you think of every character in them as actually being you.
  2. A novel is a performance you have to plan.
  3. We’re all mentally ill and we’re all haunted by something, and some people manage to find a way to ride it out so that they don’t wind up needing extra help. So I think that ‘mental illness’, as a term, is garbage. Everybody is in various states of needing to transcend something.
  4. There are only two stories: either you go forward or you die.
  5. I have a hunger for justice, but art is a place I’ve always enjoyed being able to be free – to live in worlds that you don’t have to be thinking about that all the time. I don’t see myself writing Upton Sinclair books. My books are to entertain, although to me, entertainment is to make you feel sadness or to get in touch with your own pain – or fear, or to remember somebody who has gone missing from your life. That’s my calling.
  6. Songs are often character studies.
  7. People talk about songwriting or comedy as creative expression, but life is creative expression. Table-making, even nursing, is extraordinarily creative.
  8. When you punish a person for dreaming his dream, don’t expect him to thank or forgive you.
  9. I’m finding things out about myself as a person – as a writer – as I write, and so are the people who listen to what I do. But they have this additional aspect of how they take the stuff that I do, and so it broadens the work and it creates this strange connection. It’s really a way of strangers communicating through this third thing, which is a body of work.
  10. But really, I know it’s a cliché to say I write for myself, but I write for myself.

John Darnielle is an American novelist and musician. He is the primary, and originally sole, member of the American band the Mountain Goats, for which he is the writer, composer, guitarist, pianist, and vocalist. Darnielle’s first novel, titled Wolf in White Van was nominated for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Source for quotes

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 15th March 2020