Literary Birthday – 11 February – Joy Williams

Happy Birthday, Joy Williams, born 11 February 1944


  1. Language accepts the writer as its host, it feeds off the writer, it makes him a husk. There is something uncanny about good writing — uncanny the singing that comes from certain husks.
  2. The good piece of writing startles the reader back into Life.
  3. Whenever the writer writes, it’s always three o’clock in the morning, it’s always three or four or five o’clock in the morning in his head. Those horrid hours are the writer’s days and nights when he is writing.
  4. Why does the writer write? The writer writes to serve — hopelessly he writes in the hope that he might serve — not himself and not others, but that great cold elemental grace which knows us.
  5. A writer starts out, I think, wanting to be a transfiguring agent, and ends up usually just making contact, contact with other human beings. This, unsurprisingly, is not enough…. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough.
  6. Nothing we do is inevitable, but everything we do is irreversible.

Source for writing quotes: Brainpickings

Eight Essential Attributes Of The Short Story (Source)

  1. There should be a clean clear surface with much disturbance below.
  2. An anagogical level.
  3. Sentences that can stand strikingly alone.
  4. An animal within to give its blessing.
  5. Interior voices which are or become wildly erratically exterior.
  6. Control throughout is absolutely necessary.
  7. The story’s effect should transcend the naturalness and accessibility of its situation and language.
  8. A certain coldness is required in execution. It is not a form that gives itself to consolation but if consolation is offered it should come from an unexpected quarter.

And One Way It Differs From The Novel

  1. A novel wants to befriend you, a short story almost never.

Joy Williams is an American novelist, short story writer, and essayist. Her novels include The Quick and the Dead and State of Grace.

Source for screenshot

by Amanda Patterson