Poe’s “The Philosophy of Composition”

Every once and a while I come across a pithy or inspirational quote about writing, and I thought I might as well start sharing them for the benefit of those writerly types amongst you.

Therefore, quoth Edgar Allan Poe:

“Most writers…prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy — an ecstatic intuition — and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought — at the true purposes seized only at the last moment — at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view — at the fully matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable — at the cautious selections and rejections — at the painful erasures and interpolations — in a word, at the wheels and pinions — the tackle for scene-shifting — the step-ladders, and demon-traps — the cock’s feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of the hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.

– Edgar Allan Poe, “The Philosophy of Composition

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