You don't need to know this - but here goes: due to some acquired infantilism, I feel compelled to fall asleep listening to the radio. On a good night, I'll push the frail barque of my psyche off into the waters of Lethe accompanied by the midnight newsreader - on a bad one, it's the shipping forecast.

— Will Self

The most restlessness Will Self quotes to discover and learn by heart

It could be argued that every age gets the comfort savagery writer it deserves.

48

Life, it is true, can be grasped in all its confused futility merely by opening one's eyes and sitting passively, a spectator on the stands of history - but to understand the social processes and conflicts, the interplay between individual and group, even the physicality of human experience, we have need of small-scale models.

48

Don't look back until you've written an entire draft, just begin each day from the last sentence you wrote the preceeding day. This prevents those cringing feelings, and means that you have a substantial body of work before you get down to the real work which is all in . . . The edit.

46

Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.

37

A creative life cannot be sustained by approval, any more than it can be destroyed by criticism.

27

I'm an anarchist. I'm implacably opposed to heirarchical systems of power and control. I also mistrust crowds, as they often operate according to their lowest common denominator. In terms of evolutionary psychology, the crowd is very close to a herd of stampeding wildebeest.

18

I think of writing as a sculptural medium.

You are not building things. You are removing things, chipping away at language to reveal a living form.

15

The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement - if you can't deal with this, you needn't apply.

8

Some people have human muses - mine is a city.

I feel a startling ambivalence towards London, but for better or worse my work has come utterly to depend upon it.

8

In truth, even if they have an imperfect insight into their own methods, I still slightly mistrust writers of fiction who are assured literary critics; it makes me suspect that they favour the word over the world it should describe. Such scribes fall victim too easily to the solecism of equating style with morality.

6

I think I now understand why it is that the young are so very nostalgic.

They have so little by way of personal history that they polish it up and make it shine like a treasured heirloom.

6

In survey after survey, people report that the greatest dangers they face are, in this order: terrorist attack, plane crashes and nuclear accidents. This despite the fact that these three combined have killed fewer people in the past half-century than car accidents do in any given year.

5

About Will Self

Quotes 126 sayings
Profession Author
Birthday October 16

You know that sickening feeling of inadequacy and over-exposure you feel when you look upon your own empurpled prose? Relax into the awareness that this ghastly sensation will never, ever leave you, no matter how successful and publicly lauded you become. It is intrinsic to the real business of writing and should be cherished.

5

I can't remember who it was who advocated that you should march with the left and dine with the right but I've often concurred, taking the view that I personify the great tolerance of Britain by consenting to being regally entertained. Besides, there is a degree of truth in the view that while the left are worthier, the right are wittier.

5

It is fair to say that insofar as sport is taken seriously by those who play it, then to that extent their conduct in play - their ability to deal with loss or victory, their ability to meld strategic thinking and brute force - can be taken as a small-scale model of how they, or others like them, might behave in life.

4

If you believe something, you can have a morality that means something as well.

You can feel recognized as an individual within the universe; it can give meaning to who you are.

4

Whenever I produce my best work, it's always because I've spent time being idle.

Something always emerges after nothing.

4

With spectacular events taking up so much of the available anxiety quotient, we need to be constantly reminded of the more workaday threats to our mortality - threats that, while they may also be functions of human error, have become so ubiquitous that we've begun to apprehend them as natural phenomena.

4

What more chilling indictment of the modern world is there than this: that the condition of the smartphone user is that of a dumb animal. Moooo!

3

...catching a glimpse of his rather hippyish form in a mirror, he wonders at this atavism of apparel, is it an inversion of foetal ontogeny, in which the phenotype passes through previous fashion stages? Soon there will be gaiters and gloves...I will probably die, he thinks, clad in animal skins.

3

Just as the blurring between childhood and adulthood has produced the kidult, so the stretching of middle into old age has fostered another peculiar chimera: septuagenarians with apoptosis sporting the depeche mode.

3

I'd rather fiddle with my phone for precious seconds than neglect an apostrophe;

I'd rather insert a word laboriously keyed out than resort to predictive texting for a - acceptable to some - synonym.

3

There is a deep sadness to American poverty, greater than the sadness of any other kind. It's because America has such an ideology of success.

3

I used to find myself goofed out in the street on drugs.

And I had such a bad problem with addiction at the time that I didn't mind. I was dealing cocaine and shooting up a lot of cocaine. And that's not a good space to be in.

3

I like texting as much as the next kidult - and embrace it as yet more evidence, along with email, that we live now in the post-aural age, when an unsolicited phone call is, thankfully, becoming more and more understood to be an unspeakable social solecism, tantamount to an impertinent invasion of privacy.

3

I enjoy doing very high mileages, partly out of masochism and also because I like to feel the shape of the landscape.

2

I think the fundamental apprehension is that the city's an organism of some form, rather than being governed from above.

2

I'm English enough to feel something of a gut-reaction to modernism, to continental philosophising and anything that smacks of a refusal to pay attention to the forensics: the empirical facts on the ground.

2

Don't look back until you've written an entire draft.

2

The whole aesthetics of computers very much feeds into my OCD.

They fill my head with obsessionalities and my actions become very repetitive. It seems quite inimical to the dreamy state out of which fiction comes which seems so much less causally repetitive than the way one works on computers.

2

I make no apology for preoccupying myself with architecture, television, conceptual art, restaurants and Jane Asher's cakes.

1

Death, the real simile for disease - for when we are ill, do we not always feel like we are dying, even if it's only a little? - remains, despite our secularism, the most metaphoricised phenomenon of all.

1

Wealth is a form of power in our society.

With great power comes great responsibility. If you have too much wealth, ipso facto, you have too much power - therefore you have too much responsibility - and you're a kind of dictator.

1

Lust was a positive high-tension cable, plugged into my core, activating a near-epileptic seizure of conviction that this was the one thing I had to do in life.

0

Most of us have had that experience - at around puberty - of realising that, despite whatever efforts we put into our chosen sports, we will become at best competent.

0

The future continues to preoccupy me as a reliable source of hopes, fears and anxieties, but increasingly the present seems to have no outstanding qualities of its own, being merely a way-station through which events travel to the vast shadow lands of the past.

0

Nowadays, my mood ungoverned, I'm free to think the most outrageous things, such as: might it not be a good idea to insist that drug companies give their preparations names that tell the user what they really do?

0

I prefer to write first drafts as soon as possible after waking, so that the oneiric inscape is still present to me.

0

Regard yourself as a small corporation of one.

Take yourself off on team-building exercises (long walks). Hold a Christmas party every year at which you stand in the corner of your writing room, shouting very loudly to yourself while drinking a bottle of white wine. Then masturbate under the desk. The following day you will feel a deep and cohering sense of embarrassment.

0

You can always spot a 'television personality', even when they aren't actually on television, because they carry their 'made-up' persona in front of them, like some sort of baffler, or Ready Brek force field. Their reach for notoriety predicated on that fulsome mediocrity of talent detailed above has become frozen in their faces.

0

Lives don't divide up into chapters. People don't just talk, while nothing's going on in their head, and then respond. You know, none of these things actually happen.

0

It is not that sport, over-indulged in, coarsens the mind; it is that it dulls it.

0

A short story is a shard, a sliver, a vignette.

It's a biopsy on the human condition but it doesn't have this capacity to think autonomously for itself.

0

I am a regular if not exactly enthusiastic patron of my local bookshop.

I try to buy at least some books there because I cling to the belief that it's important to maintain those businesses which put a human face on the exchange of money for goods and services.

0

The cynics are correct the sense of freewill is only that feeling which we have when we take the necessitated option that most appeals to us.

0

Sometimes, when I hear people without experience of addiction blame addicts for their behaviour I feel like saying to them: "You simply don't understand - how can a child be held responsible for doing such a dreadful thing to himself?" But then again, at other times I have to acknowledge: it was done wilfully.

0

In my view the plangent artificiality of a lot of creative work results from the fact that the people who write novels, direct films and put on plays tend to read too many novels, watch too many films and go to too many plays.

0

Certainly, for time out of mind, an obsessive dwelling on happier former days has been synonymous with getting older, while it was the juvenescent who rushed with open arms to embrace the future.

0

When anyone starts out to do something creative - especially if it seems a little unusual - they seek approval, often from those least inclined to give it. But a creative life cannot be sustained by approval, any more than it can be destroyed by criticism - you learn this as you go on.

0
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