Tag Archives: writing

Quotes on the use of quotes

  •  An apt quotation is as good as an original remark. – Proverb
  • The wisdom of the wise and the experience of the ages are perpetuated by quotations. – Benjamin Disraeli
  • I quote others only the better to express myself. – Michel de Montaigne
  • I hate quotations, tell me what you know. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Every quotation contributes something to the stability or enlargement of the language. – Johnson
  • A thing is never too often repeated which is never sufficiently learned. – Seneca
  • A good conversationalist is not one who remembers what was said, but says what someone wants to remember. – Jason Mason Brown
  • A proverb is the child of experience. – Anon.
  • Proverbs are the sanctuary of the intuitions. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • The wise make proverbs and fools repeat them. – Isaac D’Israeli
  • Democracy will not be salvaged by men who talk fluently, debate forcefully, and quote aptly. – Lancelot Hogben
  • It is a good thing for an uneducated man to read books of quotations. – Sir Winston Churchill
  • I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation. – George Bernard Shaw
  • The surest way to make a monkey of a man is to quote him. – Robert Benchley
  • Most anthologists of quotations are like those who eat cherries… first picking the best ones and winding up by eating everything. – Nicolas Chamfort


(ed. – This is a re-post, originally appearing in the pages of By George Journal in July 2009 – here.)


Hemingway remembered by A.E. Hotchner

In 1968, A.E. Hotchner wrote a very moving tribute to his great friend Ernest Hemingway. In his book, Papa Hemingway, Hotchner shared many wonderful stories and his insight into the brilliant author. Here are some great Hemingway quotes, as recounted by A.E. Hotchner. 

  • Every man’s life ends the same way and it is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguishes one man from another.
  • Never confuse movement with action.
  • Nobody knows what’s in him until he tries to pull it out. If there’s nothing or very little, the shock can kill a man.
  • The parody is the last refuge of the frustrated writer…. The step up from writing parodies is writing on the wall above the urinal.
  • Man can be destroyed but not defeated.
  • You don’t own anything until you give it away.
  • You invent fiction, but what you invent it out of is what counts. True fiction must come from everything you’ve ever known, ever seen, ever felt, ever learned.
  • Greatness is the longest steeplechase ever run; many enter; few survive.
  • I only write once on any one theme; if I don’t write it all that one time, then it is not worth saying.
  • There are only two absolutes I know about writing: one is that if you make love while you are jamming on a novel, you are in danger of leaving the best parts of it in the bed; the other is that integrity in a writer is like virginity in a woman – once lost, it is never recovered.
  • How the hell can you bleed over your own personal tragedies when you’re a writer? You should welcome them because serious writers have to be hurt really terrible before they can write seriously. But once you get the hurt and can handle it, consider yourself lucky – that is what there is to write about and you have to be as faithful to it as a scientist is faithful to his laboratory. You can’t cheat or pretend. You have to excise the hurt honestly.
  • All good books have one thing in common – they are truer than if they had really happened, and after you’ve read one of them you will find that all that happened, happened to you and then it belongs to you forever: the happiness and unhappiness, good and evil, ecstasy and sorrow, the food, wine, beds, people and the weather. If you can give that to readers, then you’re a writer.
  • Writing at its best is a lonely life…. For he does his work alone, and if he is a good enough writer, he must face eternity or the lack of it each day.
  • You put down the words in hot blood, like an argument, and correct them when your temper has cooled.
  • If I can’t exist on my own terms, then existence is impossible.

Photo: Hotchner and Hemingway (and Mary seated in the middle) poolside at LaConsula, Malaga, Spain, the morning of his 60th birthday – 1959


Hemingway on writing

On answering a question about “how” he writes, whether with an outline or notes, Ernest Hemingway stated:

       No, I just start it. Fiction is inventing out of what knowledge you have. If you invent successfully, it is more true than if you try to remember it. A big lie is more plausible than truth. People who write fiction, if they had not taken it up, might have become very successful liars.

SOURCE:  From A.E. Hotchner’s Papa Hemingway – Chapter 11 Ketchum, 1958

10 Provocative Thoughts on Writing – by Authors

  1. If you did not write every day, the poisons would accumulate and you would begin to die, or act crazy or both–you must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. – Ray Bradbury
  2. Write. Start writing today. Start writing right now. Don’t write it right, just write it –and then make it right later. Give yourself the mental freedom to enjoy the process, because the process of writing is a long one. Be wary of “writing rules” and advice. Do it your way. – Tara Moss
  3. Be daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind. – Joyce Carol Oates
  4. The artist must raise everything to a higher level: he is like a pump; inside him is a great pipe reaching down into the bowels of things, the deepest layers. He sucks up what was pooled beneath the surface and brings it forth into the sunlight in giant sprays. – Gustave Flaubert
  5. Know the story before you fall in love with your first sentence. If you don’t know the story before you begin the story, what kind of a storyteller are you? Just an ordinary kind, just a mediocre kind – making it up as you go along, like a common liar. – John Irving
  6. I get annoyed when a self-indulgent writer just shows off what he knows but doesn’t really tell a story. To me storytelling is first a craft. Then if you’re lucky, it becomes an art form. But first, it’s got to be a craft. You’ve got to have a beginning, middle and end. – Robert Ludlum
  7. Most writers write too much. Some writers write way too much, gauged by the quality of their accumulated oeuvre. I’ve never thought of myself as a man driven to write. I simply choose to do it, often when I can’t be persuaded to do anything else; or when a dank feeling of uselessness comes over me, and I’m at a loss and have some time on my hands, such as when the World Series is over. – Richard Ford
  8. Every writer is a thief, though some of us are more clever than others at disguising our robberies. The reason writers are such slow readers is that we are ceaselessly searching for things we can steal and then pass off as our own: a natty bit of syntax, a seamless transition, a metaphor that jumps to its target like an arrow shot from an aluminum crossbow. – Joseph Epstein
  9. Occasionally, something sticks. And then I follow that. The only image I can think of is a man walking around with an iron rod in his hand during a lightning storm. – Arthur Miller
  10. Here are three reasons for becoming a writer: the first is that you need the money; the second, that you have something to say that you think the world should know; the third is that you can’t think of what to do with the long winter evenings. – Quentin Crisp

Of Hemingway and Bullfighting

Through this year, By George Journal is celebrating one of the greatest authors of our time – Ernest Hemingway. Herein is 20 of our favourite quotes from Papa’s 1932 tribute to the sport and art of bullfighting – Death in the Afternoon.  

In his own bibliographical note, Hemingway writes that the book “is not intended to be historical or exhaustive. It is intended as an introduction to the modern Spanish bullfight and attempts to explain that spectacle both emotionally and practically.”

Interwoven in his expose of bullfighting, Hemingway also provides his opinions on good story-telling and excellence in writing. In fact, within this book is found some of the Master’s greatest insights into his craft.

  • Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor.
  • The usual bullfighter is a very brave man, the most common degree of bravery being the ability temporarily to ignore possible consequences. A more pronounced degree of bravery, which comes with exhilaration, is the ability not to give a damn for possible consequences; not only to ignore them but to despise them.
  • A bullfighter is not always expected to be good, only to do his best. He is excused for bad work if the bull is very difficult, he is expected to have off-days, but he is expected to do the best he can with the given bull.
  • Honor to a Spaniard, no matter how dishonest, is as real a thing as water, wine, or olive oil. There is honor among pickpockets and honor among whores. It is simply that the standards differ.
  • The individual, the great artist when he comes, uses everything that has been discovered or known about his art up to that point, being able to accept or reject in a time so short it seems that the knowledge was born with him, rather than that he takes instantly what it takes the ordinary man a lifetime to know, and then the great artist goes beyond what has been done or known and makes something of his own.
  • In appearance he (Domingo Lopez Ortega) had one of the ugliest faces you could find outside of a monkey house, a good, mature, but rather thick-jointed figure, and the self-satisfaction of a popular actor.
  • About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.
  • All bad writers are in love with the epic.
  • All our words from loose using have lost their edge.
  • If a writer of prose knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water.
  • When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. If a writer can make people live there may be no great characters in his book, but it is possible that his book will remain as a whole; as an entity; as a novel.
  • There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.
  • I was trying to write then and I found the greatest difficulty, aside from knowing what you really felt, rather that what you were supposed to feel, and had been taught to feel, was to put down what really happened in action; what the actual things which produced the emotion that you experienced..
  • Any man’s life, told truly, is a novel…
  • Most men die like animals, not men.
  • Madame, there is no remedy for anything in life. Death is a sovereign remedy for all misfortunes…
  • Madame, all stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.
  • There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it.
  • The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not before; and not too damned much after.
  • Let those who want to save the world if you can get to see it clear and as a whole. Then any part you make will represent the whole if it’s made truly. The thing to do is work and learn to make it.

A compilation – to motivate and inspire


A Day in the Life of Man – Sustenance for the Soul is a moving collection of verse, thoughts and quotes that takes the reader through an average day – from dawn to dusk.  The assortment of bons mots will encourage reflection, reawaken hope, and draw energy from within.    

Read the post from the day of the release

The e-book costs $5 payment and you can purchase in through PayPal, accessed from our By George Store.

What’s with the sloughing?

These past two days we have been fielding the question, “Why sloughing and snake images to describe your business activities?’

# 1 – It’s a vivid image that caught your attention – no?

#2 – It’s an accurate analogy of the process we have undertaken to freshen up our look and to re-introduce our social media and writing services.

#3 – It got us talking with those interested in our business. It was provocative enough to prompt questions.

Our own release is a great example of content that works!  

If you are still not sure about sloughing, check this YouTube video of a reptile shedding its skin. It’s incredible – and some will say, unforgettable (which is exactly what we aim to be).

“Sloughing” through February

CG&A COMM has issued a release to relate the company’s plans to intensify its writing services and advocacy work.  Here is an excerpt from that statement:

     A snake’s sloughing process has it rubbing against rocks and sticks to peel back and shed weathered skin, and reveal it’s bright, new coat of scales. Through this molting, the animal is renewed.

     Through the month of February, CG&A COMMUNICATIONS will be sloughing to take on a renewed, attractive look with its website, the By George Journal and the company’s on-line activities. Along with the new look, President Chris George is unveiling new writing projects and services and has promised to “redouble efforts” on the company’s core wordsmith services. [Read his 2012 resolution in the latest e-newsletter.]

     “We’re intensifying what has always set us apart from other PR firms – our writing services and advocacy work,” explains Chris George. “With the explosion of social media in our business and personal space, the PR adage of ‘Content is King’ is increasingly significant for all of us. Anyone with something to say, wanting to be heard, must confront the hurricane of images and words blasting through the on-line world. You need quality content that is engaging and persuasive just to get noticed.”  

     “We’ll be enhancing our writing services to take full advantage of the direct contact social media tools offer organizations and businesses.” George adds, “While it’s a fact that it’s never been easier to express yourself, it’s never been harder to be heard, understood, and appreciated.”

     In the weeks ahead, Chris George will unveil a new company website, a re-designed By George Journal, and new features on his Facebook and Twitter pages.

Read the full release here.

Our resolution “to write more”

In our e-newsletter delivered earlier this week, I boldly revealed my 2012 resolution to write more.  (BTW – click here to read our e-newsletter which contains a selection of “Our Favs” from By George Journal posts.)

The # 1 question that has been asked of me since this revelation has been “What can we expect this year?” Well, currently on my writing desk, I have a total of 6 e-books which I hope to bring to publication in the next ten months. These projects include:

  • Becoming Better Communicators – a self-empowering handbook for the workplace and social engagements (this is a March release)
  • com-mu-ni-cate (verb) – a look at the discipline of effective communications
  • a lament for Sir John A Macdonald
  • a compilation of political and election campaign jokes

There are a couple of surprise creative pieces that I plan to introduce later in 2012.

And, of course, there are countless articles and postings ready for posting on our By George Journal (though we hasten to add that we intend to keep journal materials both timely and topical – so I anticipate much of our un-published pieces will remain so).

As a final note, to those who are new readers of By George Journal or new followers of our Facebook and Twitter activities, we currently have e-book publications available. You can read more on these publications on the preceding post ( immediately below or here ).

We invite you to join the By George’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.  We certainly would like to hear your freedback on our writings. We hope and trust you enjoy our work!   

Facebook wall photos = Neanderthal’s hieroglyphics


Facebook wall photos are our modern-day hieroglyphics. We tweeted this observation the other day and nobody was interested enough to respond. Our hypothesis is that, with the growing array of social media tools available for our daily communications, people have lost the interest to write and to read. There’s no time for words when a graphic will do. No time for your fingers to hang over the key board and compose your thoughts when you can simply post a wall photo. The truth of the matter is that most would rather surf through a collection of wall photos than compose a paragraph of thoughtful prose.  

We have become a society of “the quick glance” with a carnivorous appetite for simple graphics, one-line slogans and photos to explain our daily thoughts and happenings. Facebook wall posters rule!  

We want it all related in graphic images, produced to fit our screen (no scrolling please!) – very much like the Neanderthals, who gazed at stick figures on cave walls to comprehend their life stories.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know by leaving your comments on this blog – or join the discussion on our Facebook page. You may wish to tweet us your thoughts… or, if you’d rather, go ahead and find an appropriate wall poster to explain what you think. (We promise to glance at it.)

Greater Interactivity with Your Social Media

So you’ve unwrapped a new blog, got yourself on Twitter and are increasing your comments and activities on Facebook. Still, there doesn’t seem to be an interest in what you’re doing and what you’re saying. How do you get attention for your ideas? How do you get your readers involved in your dialogues?

Here are a few tips to get greater audience engagement with your social media.

  • Use conversational language
  • Ask open questions or ask people for help.
  • Leave your posts slightly undone so that you invite your readers to add to the posting
  • Link to other people, other sources of information in your posts (to encourage cross referencing between those sources)
  • Reply to every comment (and send a welcome e-mail to those commenting for the first time)
  • Visit the blogs of those who comment on your posts and reply by commenting on their posts

And the #1 tip for getting people to engage with you, your issue and opinion is to share something of yourself in your post. Readers want to know what motivates you to sound off. The more comfortable they are in recognizing the motive(s) for your post(s) the more comfortable they will be in contributing to your dialogue.

Social media is a two-way conversation… you need to share and to give in order to receive.

The Internet as “the information super-sewer” ?!


Further to Chris Hedges’ argument within Empire of Illusion, here is his thought on the role of the Internet as a contributing factor in the devolution of our society.  In a piece entitled, “The Information Super-Sewer”, Hedges contends that our society and man’s ability to properly communicate are threatened in having virtual realities replace the real world. He begins by stating:   


     The Internet has become one more tool hijacked by corporate interests to accelerate our cultural, political and economic decline. The great promise of the Internet, to open up dialogue, break down cultural barriers, promote democracy and unleash innovation and creativity, has been exposed as a scam. The Internet is dividing us into antagonistic clans, in which we chant the same slogans and hate the same enemies, while our creative work is handed for free to Web providers who use it as bait for advertising.


     Ask journalists, photographers, musicians, cartoonists or artists what they think of the Web. Ask movie and film producers. Ask architects or engineers. The Web efficiently disseminates content, but it does not protect intellectual property rights. Writers and artists are increasingly unable to make a living. And technical professions are under heavy assault. Anything that can be digitized can and is being outsourced to countries such as India and China where wages are miserable and benefits nonexistent. Welcome to the new global serfdom where the only professions that pay a living wage are propaganda and corporate management. 


     The Web, at the same time it is destroying creative work, is forming anonymous crowds that vent collective rage, intolerance and bigotry. These virtual slums do not expand communication or dialogue. They do not enrich our culture. They create a herd mentality in which those who express empathy for “the enemy”—and the liberal class is as guilty of this as the right wing—are denounced by their fellow travelers for their impurity. Racism toward Muslims may be as evil as anti-Semitism, but try to express this simple truth on a partisan Palestinian or Israeli website.


Read Hedges full column here:



Read our earlier post re Empire of Illusion here:



“Empire of Illusion” is a must-read


Here’s the crux of the argument presented in Empire of Illusion, a disturbingly invigorating book on the demise of our North American society.


     The more we sever ourselves from a literate, print-based world, a world of complexity and nuance, a world of ideas, for one informed by comforting, reassuring images, fantasies, slogans, celebrities, and a lust for violence, the more we are destined to implode…. The worse reality becomes, the less a beleaguered population wants to hear about it, and the more it distracts itself with squalid pseudo-events of celebrity breakdowns, gossip and trivia. These are the debauched revels of a dying civilization.


More on Empire of Illusion here:



More on Chris Hedges can be read here: