(To survey other elements and author quotes, visit the Elements of Fiction home page)

“There is one purpose in writing that I can see, beyond simply doing it interestingly. It is the duty of the writer to lift up, to extend, to encourage. If the written word has contributed anything at all to our developing species and our half developed culture, it is this: Great writing has been a staff to lean on, a mother to consult, a wisdom to pick up stumbling folly, a strength in weakness and a courage to support sick cowardice. And how any negative or despairing approach can pretend to be literature I do not know.” John Steinbeck

“Inspire—[14th century. Via Old French enspirer, from Latin inspirare, from spirare, ‘to breathe’ (source of English SPIRIT).” Encarta World Dictionary

“Joy, the incomparably rich experience we ask and expect of all true art, that delight and enliven the soul.” John Gardner

“The poet stands at the center of a universe, contemplating the enigma, drawing sustenance from masterpieces of the past.” Lu Chi’s Wen Fu

“I think the writer is initially set going by literature more than by life.” Flannery O’Connor

“The writer is initially inspired less by life than by the work of his predecessors.” Flannery O’Connor

“The moment when I am writing fiction is that moment when I am most intensely alive. This ‘aliveness’ does not seem to be mental, or not exactly. I am certainly not thinking while I write. Whatever I’m doing is almost the opposite of thinking.” Lee Smith

“Inspiration is the spirit breathing, writer and reader both.” Ulf Wolf

“True art is always inspirational.” Ulf Wolf

“The actual muse is the least civil women in the history of earth. She prefers to sleep with you when you’re a river rather than a mud puddle.” Jim Harrison

“The purpose of art is the lifelong construction of a state of wonder.” Glenn Gould

“The essential question is: Have you found a space, that empty space, which should surround you when you write? Into that space, which is like a form of listening, of attention, will come the words, the words your characters will speak, ideas — inspiration.” Doris Lessing