John Dufresne

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The universe may be tenderly indifferent to our fate, but we shouldn’t be. We are our brothers’ keepers. There is right, and there is wrong. There are consequences to our actions or inactions. Disregard can be an act of violence.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Brother
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The purpose of the first draft is not to get it right, but to get it written.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Purpose
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Reading honest literature makes you love the world. Knowledge and understanding are love. Reading educates our feelings and enhances our sympathy. When you read for understanding, you are fundamentally changed. You are a different person at the end of the story or the novel than you were when it began.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Reading
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Revision is not the end of the creative process, but a new beginning. It's a chance not just to clean up and edit, but to open up and discover. The energetic prose comes about from all the energy that went into crafting it, I suppose.
- John Dufresne
Collection: New Beginnings
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A lack of narrative structure, as you know, will cause anxiety.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Narrative Structure
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Pleasure is, after all, a luxury. It's love that's essential.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Luxury
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Love is anticipation and memory, uncertainty and longing. It’s unreasonable, of course. Nothing begins with so much excitement and hope and pleasure as love, except maybe writing a story. And nothing fails as often, except writing stories. And like a story, love must be troubled to be interesting.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Memories
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Writing a story, you understand, is not done by consensus. But we do learn from each other, and we remind ourselves how important this work we're doing is.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Writing
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Love is always a surprise and you never get it right.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Love Is
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Every person in therapy has a love disorder.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Disorder
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Novels are written, not wished into existence. You have to sit your ass in the chair or nothing gets done.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Writing
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What you create when you're teaching fiction writing is a kind of literary salon, not a social club or a mutual admiration society, not a debating society, not a repair shop, not a fight club or a soap box. It's a place to have a conversation about a story.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Teaching
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You will feel discouraged; you will lose confidence in your abilities; you will be bored with the characters–and the only way to overcome these obstacles is to write your way through them. And writing always works.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Writing
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You can't possibly conduct a proper affair without a lot of deliberating, scheming, speculating, and conniving. It's a delicate balance where the excitement must equal the guilt and sex must be as bright as the future you gamble.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Sex
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We read novels because we need stories; we crave them; we can’t live without telling them and hearing them. Stories are how we make sense of our lives and of the world. When we’re distressed and go to therapy, our therapist’s job is to help us tell our story. Life doesn’t come with plots; it’s messy and chaotic; life is one damn, inexplicable thing after another. And we can’t have that. We insist on meaning. And so we tell stories so that our lives make sense.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Jobs
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As a writer you can and should expect to hear conflicting responses to your story.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Stories
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You lose a wallet or keys or something and you notice in a second, but your life can go missing and you don't even know it.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Keys
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I used to believe that love and happiness were synonymous. I was a fool. Love intensifies all emotions. Nothing is so painful o so sweet, so thrilling or so desperate... Pleasure is, after all, a luxury. It's love thats essential. You are never so alive as when you love, never so alert, intuitive, attentive, never so smart or so compassionate.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Sweet
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A pure love is a selfless love, but can desire ever be selfless?
- John Dufresne
Collection: Love Is
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Fiction begins with the senses, and the senses go to work in a place.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Fiction
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Every act of loving affirms the goodness of the lover just because he is capable of loving and being loved.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Lovers
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It's easier to write about a place sometimes when you've left it, when you can apply your imagination to your memory and let your emotions guide the writing about a place.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Memories
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The landscape of childhood shapes us as it shapes the characters in our stories. You never forget the sacred places of your childhood.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Character
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I revise like crazy. I start revising before the pen hits the paper.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Crazy
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I write with a fountain pen. And then revise word by word and line by line so that the first draft of a scene is usually the tenth or so draft.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Writing
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With each draft, the work gets better, and usually that means tighter. It means getting the precise word, not the approximate word.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Mean
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In revision, your imagination becomes deeply engaged with your material. It's when you come to know your characters and begin to perceive their motivations and values.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Motivation
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Reading is also a creative activity if you're doing it right. You can learn more from a story that's left the tracks than from a successful story.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Reading
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I think I've learned to be mindful. I may not have taken the time to try to understand narrative techniques, let's say, with any rigor, if I did not also have to try to explain those techniques to someone else.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Taken
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I lost my job and started painting houses with a friend. The marriage had ended about the same time the career did.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Jobs
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I grew up in a house without many books. The books the nuns made us read in school didn't interest me.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Book
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I was reading for understanding. I wanted to do to a reader what Salinger did for me.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Reading
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I learned to love stories by listening to them.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Listening
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There were the fairy tales my father told to me at bedtime. All the standards. I thought my father invented wolves.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Father
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I sat around the kitchen every Sunday afternoon listening to my mother and aunts talk about the people in the neighborhood. Gossip - I loved it. And that turns out to be the writer's job: to attend to the gossip and spread it as far as you can.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Mother
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At the heart of all good fiction and at the heart of all good gossip is the same thing: trouble.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Heart
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If you think about it, fiction is nothing more than gossip about the people you've made up.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Thinking
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I had begun what I thought might be a career in social work. I was married and deeply involved in the anti-war movement. I thought I'd go about saving the world one person at a time. I worked with kids, teenagers mostly, in neighborhood centers, on the streets, and eventually in a drop-in center.
- John Dufresne
Collection: War
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I was always writing. I just didn't know if I was any good.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Writing
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Drug programs began to turn their attention and money away from prevention and into maintenance. Methadone was cheaper than social workers, I suppose.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Drug
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Actually, my first literary heroes were the Romantic poets, so I began to get serious by writing poems. I have notebooks full of them that I cherish but am afraid to look at.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Notebook
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We all sleep with the corpses of our dead lovers.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Sleep
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The regional tags are often pejorative and dismissive. Don't think of place-bound stories, in other words, but of stories with a strong sense of place.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Strong
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Place is character. And all writing is regional.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Writing
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The facts, however, are unimportant in fiction. It's not the events of my life that I mine, but the emotional experiences I've had.
- John Dufresne
Collection: Emotional