Best quote (ever) on writing

My money’s on this line from a letter Scott Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter “Scottie”:

All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.

I don’t know why, but maybe because I am not a good swimmer, the image appeals deeply to me. It certainly has great explanatory power; I’ve used it many times, in classes and seminars, since at least the mid-1990s.

I found the line in a book of Fitzgerald’s letters, which I bought in 1988 or 1989, when good friend Gigi brought me to a wonderful second-hand bookstore somewhere in Greater L.A. Still have the book, although I found out today that the line is actually the first quotation listed in Fitzgerald’s Wikiquote page. Breathe deeply.


1 Comment

Filed under Notes on Readings, Spiral Notebook, Uncommon Quotations

One response to “Best quote (ever) on writing

  1. Call me dense, but I don’t get the quote. Does that mean it’s difficult (as in Red Smith’s famous quote about opening a vein…) or pleasureable? Swimming underwater while holding your breath is a wonderful feeling, unless you’re trying to swim out of a ship that just sank.

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