Quotable Tuesday-K.A. Nuzum

Today’s quote comes to us from my friend, fellow VCFA alum and author of the outstanding middle grade novel, The Leanin’ Dog, K. A. Nuzum.

Before I get to her quote, I need to tell you a wee story. I met Kathy a year ago. I happened to be lucky enough to be sitting at a table where she began to talk about the novel she is working on, the story of it. You know those storytellers who tell the littlest bits of details, like how the pupils in a horse’s eyes look when they are terrified, and you are so wrapped up, you never want the story to end? Well, Kathy is one of those storytellers. Unfortunately, the story got interrupted that evening but I am still thinking about it.  I am so pleased to host Kathy and her quote because if she follows its instruction, I will get to read the end of that story.

Now, I’ll step out of the way and let Kathy talk.

“One of my resolutions for this new year of 2012 is to whittle away at, chuck through the window, and set out for the garbage man, the clutter in my life – physical, emotional, and psychological clutter. I have sworn to get rid of whatever does not make me happy, whatever does not serve me. I am going to reduce complexity and increase efficacy. I am going to simplify. Yep, I am.

“So, with steely resolve, I have rifled through the piles and stacks of quotations lodged in my brain, scribbled on scraps of paper and strewn across my desk, highlighted in books piled at my bedside, and have chosen the simplest of quotes to share here. It’s one that has served me better, more faithfully than any other (partly because it is easy to remember). Here it is:

“A writer writes. Always.”

“It’s a line that Billy Crystal’s character utters time and again in the movie Throw Momma from the Train (This VCR tape continues to serve me and does not have any skips or scratches; I will be keeping it). Everybody knows this film, right? A writer’s first book is stolen by his ex-wife. She gets it published and makes a bazillion dollars off it, is interviewed by Oprah, and everything-good-that-can-happen to a writer happens to her.

“His ex-wife’s success sends Billy Crystal’s character into a tailspin of writer’s block, writer’s jealousy-desire-for-revenge, writer’s everything-bad. To make ends meet, since he doesn’t have a book to sell any longer, Billy Crystal begins to teach a creative writing course at the local community college, and his drumbeat of a message to his students is: “A writer writes. Always” (This, of course, is exactly the same as “A__ to Chair,” just phrased more politely.)

“At one point in the movie, his agent (Rob Reiner) breaks their contract saying, “I’ve been your agent for seven years. You’ve never written anything.” and then goes on to lambaste Billy Crystal for using his ex-wife’s thievery as just one more excuse not to write. (Here Rob Reiner confesses he has just signed the ex-wife as a client. Ha!).

“A writer writes. Always.”

“There is not a moment in a writer’s day that this message is not profoundly applicable. I myself am often quoted this quote by my spouse and sons (how many times have we watched this movie?) when I grumble about dishes, laundry, errands, traffic, LIFE, taking too much time away from my writing. “A writer writes,” they remind me, and there is freedom in those words, in hearing them, in speaking them to myself. I’m a writer, and that’s what I need to be about.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever met a single person who, once they find out I’m a writer, doesn’t say: “I have this idea for a book,” or “I’ve had this story in my head since I was 17.” But, none of them, not a single one, has ever gotten around to putting a__ to chair and actually writing the book. No, sir.

“It is only the writer, who, in spite of the sink full of dirty dishes, instead of the lunch with friends, after everybody else is snug in bed, even if the stinkin’ ex has stolen the first book, sits down and creates, because that is what we do, that is what we must do because

“ A writer writes. Always.”

“Wishing a simple and productive year for us all.”

Thanks, Kathy. I am so delighted to host you and your thinking here at Quotable Tuesday.


8 Responses to “Quotable Tuesday-K.A. Nuzum”

  1. mima tipper

    Love this! Thanks for sharing, Kathy, and thanks for posting, Lindsey. I also adored “Throw Momma from the Train” but didn’t remember this quote. I think I shall scribble it on a scrap and put it next to one of my faves from John Cage: “Begin anywhere.”
    Well, back to it!

  2. Lindsey

    Hey Mima, Good to hear from you. I haven’t forgotten about what you asked…I’m digging my way through things.

  3. Linden McNeilly

    Thank you for reminding me, Kathy, and Lindsey. It’s funny how easy it is to “forget.”

  4. Diane

    I had my A__ to chair and decided to do a google search for my favorite quote from one of my favorite movies, “A writer writes, always!” I could not believe the amount of sites there are on this one quote. I am happily surprised to learn that I am not alone in using the phrase as a mantra for motivation. So thank you and now back to my real work.

  5. Karen

    I did the same thing as Diane, in a fit of procrastination. Somehow, I had this quote pegged as being from the children’s book, Harriet the Spy (even though I have seen “Throw Mama From the Train” the requisite 1,000 or so times). Either way, it’s time to get back to work. Thanks for the pep talk!