At the beginning of the book, when Paterson is asked when she wanted to be a writer, she explains that it was her love of reading that made her want to “get inside the process (Paterson, p. 2)” not that she ever wanted to be a writer at all. In this opening essay, she shares two items in her office that apparently protect her from her “terror of mediocrity.” One is a Greek quote borrowed from Edith Hamilton which also provides the title for this collection:
Before the gates of excellence
The high gods have placed sweat (Ibid, p. 3).
The other is a mounted Charles Schultz cartoon of Snoopy typing, “It was a dark and stormy night.” Snoopy then remarks, “Good writing is hard work.” I’m not sure the Greeks actually said “sweat” but the point is both remind her that she is a worker, not a part of some gifted group bestowing their words on “less fortunate mortals (Ibid p.3).”
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Quote for the day: why writers write
This is kind of a quote within a quote within a quote. It's from a review of Katherine Paterson's book Gates of Excellence, in which she quotes from both Edith Hamilton (who is quoting from Hesiod) and Charles Schultz. Gates of Excellence is where I first heard (years ago) of Children of the Fox, which I tracked down and read, and which I then had to "sweat" to get through ILL so that we could use it in school this year.