Your memories from your early childhood seem to have such purchase on your emotions. They are so concrete.

— Dana Spiotta

The most undeniable Dana Spiotta quotes that may be undiscovered and unusual

For me writing is an organic process that starts with engaging the language and then thinking about the structure of the novel as you move along. Especially in revision you start to notice correlations. Things come up, not self-consciously, because you're busy feeling your way through sentences and trying to push the language into new places.

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Occupy Wall Street means making Wall Street and the corporate power elite understand that the people affected by the binge of unregulated greed are not going away, and they are not going to give up.

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All roads lead to Wall Street, but we feel the effects of Wall Street on every street corner. Certainly in Syracuse, N.Y., where I live.

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I don't have a lot of skills, but one thing I can do is, I can compartmentalize.

I can make that a little world that I can go back to, so I can be a waitress, or I can be a teacher, and then go and work on my book.

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I think most writers have to have a practice of writing.

For me it is very early in the morning. I try to make it a separate world from the rest of my life.

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A good novel should be deeply unsettling - its satisfactions should come from its authenticity and its formal coherence. We must feel something crucial is at stake.

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I like to buy books for the kids in my family. I guess that's why they call me the 'mean' aunt.

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My teaching exists in a different part of my brain.

However, I am lucky enough to teach very smart graduate students.

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I always think the novelist should go to the culture's dark places and poke around. Pose a lot of hard questions.

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There are lots of authentic, moving characters in so-called systems novels, just as there are certainly deep structural ideas in some character-driven novels.

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The idea that you can live off the grid and just do your own thing is a very American idea - that you should be able to do your own thing, if you want to, if you're willing to pay the price for it. I think the price has gotten higher and higher.

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Getting an audience requires luck as well as talent.

Some artists are private and shy. It costs them too much.

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About Dana Spiotta

Quotes 55 sayings
Profession Author
Birthday January 16, 1966

Tell me it's forbidden, unthinkable, and that's where I want to go.

Because the chances are it's complicated, and the complications are meaningful.

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I am, it seems, interested in people with multiple identities.

I think we all have multiple identities.

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Each character requires different language, and these issues become inseparable.

You have all these balls in the air: language, character, narrative. For me, the primary focus must be words, sentences, paragraphs.

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Usually there is a paradox in what a character wants.

A conflict is built deeply within them. And then you put them in motion, throw everything at them until they reveal themselves further.

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I am always trying to do something new and different.

The first step is curiosity, questions. You pay attention to what fascinates you. If you can't shake it, there is something there.

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I think it's harder than ever to be an artist.

I think that you end up, especially as a middle-aged person, you pay such big consequences for saying, 'I'm just going to devote my life to making art,' or 'I'm going to devote my life to writing novels.' You end up with no resources.

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The novel is about, for me, sustained and organized looking.

I do think that people have a hunger for a sustained engagement, that concentration that the book can offer.

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I find poignancy in the moments when a person realizes that she has made mistakes. I am not as interested in the mistakes themselves as I am with the consequences and how the person responds to her realization.

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People think it's suspect and self-indulgent to make art, and I don't think that's true. Some people think you should be busy making something that you can sell in the marketplace, and if nobody wants to buy it, it must be crap. And that's not true.

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The writer has to take risks and go somewhere full of mystery and possibility for the novel to deepen over the years it takes to write it.

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It takes a long time to write a novel when you have to keep interrupting your work to earn money.

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My husband is a musician. He cooks and he's a chef but he also, he makes basement recordings. So many people in my life make basement recordings, so I feel very lucky, I'm surrounded by very creative people.

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I do want to write about social/cultural/historical context.

I'm interested in relationships, in character, but within a specific social context. Which is kind of a political thing, I admit that. But it's what I'm interested in, and it's how I believe human behavior is legible.

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Memory is not particularly linear - it is associative, repetitive, subjective and porous. But the writer needs to convey disorder and dysfunction without making the novel itself disorderly or dysfunctional.

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I don't feel sentimental about the past, but I can't help noticing how hard it has become to keep a grip on anything. Maybe it's the totalizing impact of corporate culture, maybe it's the atomizing impact of technology.

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We exist because of suburbia. Suburbia is a freak’s dreamworld, a world of extra rooms upstairs and long, lazy afternoons with no interference. A place where you can listen to your LPs for hours on end. You can live in your room, your own rent-free corner of the universe, and create a world of pleasure and interest entirely centered on yourself and your interior aesthetic and logic.

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I want what I write to be deeply engaging and strange and true.

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You are always working towards the moments in which characters experience reckonings or insight or change. I like to track them past those moments.

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I locate a great deal of the power of Occupy Wall Street in the name itself, 'Occupy Wall Street,' or '#OccupyWallStreet.' It works because the name contains everything you need to know: the tactic and the target. The name is also modular. You can create your own offshoot in your own city.

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I am a great procrastinator. When the writing is going really well, the laundry piles up.

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I like to mix the real and the imaginary.

Sometimes it is characters inspired by real people I know or know of. Sometimes it is a named person from the common cultural dreamscape. And it is tricky, because they have a lot of associated ideas that come with them, and a lot of actual facts.

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I like the challenge of creating a world with only sentences.

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There's lots of things that can't make it in the world that are worth making.

There are lots of great artists who never make it, there are lots of great writers who don't get published - is it still worthwhile? Aren't we glad people are still doing it?

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I have to say that movies have as much impact on me as music.

And that I learned as much about narrative from movies as I did from reading novels, how to arrange stories, how to juxtapose things.

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Most human things are full of conflict and ambivalence, not ease and simplicity.

The world has grown increasingly fundamentalist, and the parameters of discussion have become narrowed. People, when they're fearful, are vulnerable to certainty in rhetoric.

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I think there's a false division people sometimes make in describing literary novels, where there are people who write systems novels, or novels of ideas, and there are people who write about emotional things in which the movement is character driven. But no good novels are divisible in that way.

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Even a documentary portrait of a person that tries to be very accurate is shaped by the filmmaker in so many ways.

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If you directly try to write about an idea, it will never be what you imagined.

But if you're imagining through the building of sentences, through the characters, and paying attention to avoid ease and comfort yet still thinking about making the sentences work, you will get a shot at some real interesting stuff.

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In order to be a living, breathing thing, a novel has to be failed in some kind of way. Or at least that's how I keep writing them.

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My teaching forces me to articulate what I think works in a piece of fiction and how I think it works. All of that gives me energy as a writer.

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You're trying to make the language work, and your subconscious is being allowed to make the deeper, more profound connections. It's much better than going at it all frontally. But you can't conjure it in an intellectual way; it has to come out of another engagement, a more intuitive engagement. Revision is where the intellectual, analytical work happens. At least for me.

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The issue isn't, Am I good enough? No.

The issue is, Do I not have any other choice? Will and desire don't matter. Ability doesn't matter. Need is the only thing that matters.

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That was one of the reasons I became a writer - I never really had that many friends. I would read a lot, and listen to music. And that was my life.

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I think there's a lot to be learned from pop culture.

But at the same time I see the dangers of using it in an exclusive way to construct meaning in your life.

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Yes, I did try acting when I was in high school and I was terrible at it.

So I definitely have had the experience of being bad at artistic endeavor.

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The writer has to be brave, I think.

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Even if we try to see people in our lives accurately, it is distorted by our own wants and prejudices and experiences.

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