Doris Lessing

Literary Birthday – 22 October – Doris Lessing

Doris Lessing was born 22 October 1919, and died 17 November 2013.

Doris Lessing: 10 Quotes On Writing

  1. As you start to write at once the question begins to insist: Why do you remember this and not that? Why do you remember in every detail a whole week, month, more, of a long ago year, but then complete dark, a blank? How do you know that what you remember is more important than what you don’t?
  2. Ask any modern storyteller and they will say there is always a moment when they are touched with fire, with what we like to call inspiration, and this goes back and back to the beginning of our race, to fire and ice and the great winds that shaped us and our world.
  3. Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.
  4. That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.
  5. In the writing process, the more a story cooks, the better.
  6. I don’t know much about creative writing programs. But they’re not telling the truth if they don’t teach, one, that writing is hard work, and, two, that you have to give up a great deal of life, your personal life, to be a writer.
  7. You should write, first of all, to please yourself. You shouldn’t care a damn about anybody else at all. But writing can’t be a way of life – the important part of writing is living. You have to live in such a way that your writing emerges from it.
  8. Words. Words. I play with words, hoping that some combination, even a chance combination, will say what I want.
  9. What I did have, which others perhaps didn’t, was a capacity for sticking at it, which really is the point, not the talent at all. You have to stick at it.
  10. I’m very unhappy when I’m not writing. I need to write. I think it’s possibly some kind of psychological balancing mechanism—but that’s not only true for writers … anybody. I think that we’re always … just a step away from lunacy anyway, and we need something to keep us balanced.

Doris Lessing was a British novelist, poet, playwright, biographer and short story writer. She was born in Persia and spent her childhood and early adulthood in Southern Africa before settling in London. Lessing wrote more than 40 books of fiction and non-fiction, including science-fiction novels and two autobiographical books. Her works include The Grass Is SingingThe Fifth Child, and The Good Terrorist. She was awarded the 2007 Nobel Prize in Literature. Lessing was the 11th woman and the oldest ever person to receive the prize.

Image of Doris Lessing

Doris_lessing_20060312_(jha).jpg: Elke Wetzig (elya)derivative work: PRA, CC BY-SA 2.5 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 22nd October 2012

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