Contemplative Quotes by Eudora Welty

Eudora Welty younger

Eudora Welty‘s writing reflected realism in human relationships. Known as a Southern writer, a sense of place was often an important theme in her novels and short stories. She also captured the writer’s life in One Writer’s Beginnings (1984) and On Writing (2002). This author was contemplative and reflective, both in her fiction and nonfiction works, as these thoughtful quotes by Eudora Welty attest.


“It had been startling and disappointing to me to find out that story books had been written by people, that books were not natural wonders, coming of themselves like grass.”


“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”


“Write about what you don’t know about what you know.”


“People are mostly layers of violence and tenderness wrapped like bulbs, and it is difficult to say what makes them onions or hyacinths.”


“We are the breakers of our own hearts.”


“Any room in our house at any time in the day was there to read in or to be read to.”


“Beauty is not a means, not a way of furthering a thing in the world. It is a result; it belongs to ordering, to form, to aftereffect.”


“The story and its analyses are not mirror-opposites of each other. They are not reflections, either one. Criticism indeed is an art, as a story is, but only the story is to some degree a vision; there is no explanation outside fiction for what the writer is learning to do.”


“People give pain, are callous and insensitive, empty and cruel…but place heals the hurt, soothes the outrage, fills the terrible vacuum that these human beings make.”


“If you haven’t surprised yourself, you haven’t written.”


“Characters take on life sometimes by luck, but I suspect it is when you can write more entirely out of yourself, inside the skin, heart, mind, and soul of a person who is not yourself, that a character becomes in his own right another human being on the page.”


“The excursion is the same when you go looking for your sorrow as when you go looking for your joy.”


“It doesn’t matter if it takes a long time getting there; the point is to have a destination.”


“Writers and travelers are mesmerized alike by the knowing of their destination.”


“There is absolutely everything in great fiction but a clear answer.”


“My continuing passion is to part a curtain, that invisible veil of indifference that falls between us and that blinds us to each other’s presence, each other’s wonder, each other’s human plight.”


“Southerners love a good tale. They are born reciters, great memory retainers, diary keepers, letter exchangers . . . great talkers.”


Eudora Welty

You might also like: 7 Thoughtful Ideas on the Art of Reading


Quotes from One Writer’s Beginnings (1984)

“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily — perhaps not possibly — chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.”


“Long before I wrote stories, I listened for stories. Listening for them is something more acute than listening to them. I suppose it’s an early form of participation in what goes on. Listening children know stories are there. When their elders sit and begin, children are just waiting and hoping for one to come out, like a mouse from its hole.”


“Through travel I first became aware of the outside world; it was through travel that I found my own introspective way into becoming a part of it.”


“One place understood helps us understand all places better.”


“It is our inward journey that leads us through time – forward or back, seldom in a straight line, most often spiraling. Each of us is moving, changing, with respect to others. As we discover, we remember; remembering, we discover; and most intensely do we experience this when our separate journeys converge. Our living experience at those meeting points is one of the charged dramatic fields of fiction.”


“But how much better, in any case, to wonder than not to wonder, to dance with astonishment and go spinning in praise, than not to know enough to dance or praise at all; to be blessed with more imagination than you might know at the given moment what to do with than to be cursed with too little to give you — and other people— any trouble.”


“Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer’s own life.”


“Writing fiction has developed in me an abiding respect for the unknown in a human lifetime and a sense of where to look for the threads, how to follow, how to connect, find in the thick of the tangle what clear line persists.


One Writer's Beginnings by Eudora Welty

One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty on Amazon


Quotes from On Writing (2002)

“Human life is fiction’s only theme.”


“I am a writer who came of a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.”


“Henry James said there isn’t any difference between “the English novel” and “the American novel” since there are only two kinds of novels at all, the good and the bad.”


“Since we must and do write each in our own way, we may during actual writing get more lasting instruction not from another’s work, whatever its blessings, however better it is than ours, but from our own poor scratched-over pages. For these we can hold up to life. That is, we are born with a mind and heart to hold each page up to and ask: Is it valid?”


“For the source of the short story is usually lyrical. And all writers speak from, and speak to, emotions eternally the same in all of us: love, pity, terror do not show favorites or leave any of us out.”


“It’s all right, I want to say to the students who write to me, for things to be what they appear to be, and for words to mean what they say. It’s all right, too, for words and appearances to mean more than one thing–ambiguity is a fact of life.”


“The novelist works neither to correct nor to condone, not at all to comfort, but to make what’s told alive.”


“Indeed, learning to write may be part of learning to read. For all I know, writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.”


On writing by Eudora Welty

On Writing by Eudora Welty on Amazon


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