Story Book

A commonplace book is where notable extracts from other works are recorded.

This is my commonplace book. These quotes are in a random order, gathered as I read or heard them in my life.

Almost all poetry is a failure because it sounds like somebody saying, Look, I have written a poem.

         - Charles Bukowski

A writer’s obituary should read he wrote books then he died. 

         - William Faulkner. 

Must a man open a grave to find a woman to love? 

         - The Mummy (1936)


You can get too stressed from being too stressed. 

         - Patricia Neumann


Sometimes a man wants to be stupid if it lets him do a thing his cleverness forbids.

         - John Steinbeck, East of Eden


I have learned over the years that when one's mind is made up, this diminishes fear; knowing what must be done does away with fear.

         - Rosa Parks


We never know which lives we influence, or when, or why.

         - Stephen King


Democracy's a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it's no longer democracy, is it? It's something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism.

         -Sam Shepard


I don’t write music to tell you how to feel, but to tell you it’s time to feel.

         -Hans Zimmer


Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? 

         - Mary Oliver


Optimism is an antidote to anxiety.

          - Dr. Michael Gervais


Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.

         - Inara


Every man who ever got a statue made of him is one kind of a son of a bitch or another. 

         - Firefly


This is how science works, it has nothing to do with feelings, it’s just about curiosity. 

         - Jon Larsen


I think the point of a song is to just say something that’s true, or that expresses an idea that reflects something that’s true, whether it’s a truth about human nature or about the way people bullshit one another.  

         - Lyle Lovett


if you’d never met a human and suddenly encountered one, you’d be inclined to worship this creature.

         - CS Lewis


I have a friend who listens to conversations the way congregants listen to sermons in charismatic churches — with amens, and approbations. The effect is magnetic.

         - David Brooks


Humans need to be heard before they will listen.

         - Amanda Ripley


To influence actions, you need to give people a sense of control.

         - Tali Sharot


Sometimes I wish I were a nurse, or I was out marching. Is music enough? But that's what I have to give. That's the way I can express my love.

         - Meredith Monk


If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.

         - Haruki Murakami


Dirt is destiny.

         - Dave Montgomery 

There is a certain impulse in all writers to want to please. You have to give up wanting to please.

         - Dorothy Allison


No one can tell what goes on in between the person you were and the person you become. No one can chart that blue and lonely section of hell. There are no maps of the change. You just come out the other side. Or you don't.

         - Stephen King, The Stand


All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.

         - James Baldwin


“The terror and consternation of the Presidential couple may be imagined by anyone who has ever loved a child, and suffered that dread intimation common to all parents, that Fate may not hold that life in as high a regard, and may dispose of it at will. In “Selected Civil War Letters of Edwine Willow,” edited by Constance Mays.”

         — Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel by George Saunders


The Negro, who has long exemplified the humanities in his very existence, is being rewarded with inhumanity.

         - Sonny Rollins, liner notes, Freedom Suite. 


If a song can’t be written in 20 minutes, it ain’t worth writing.

         - Hank Williams

When I practice, I need to listen very critically and analytically to what I am doing. Practicing involves experimentation and working often in small sections at a variety of different speeds – with frequent stops.  Performing is all about letting go of self consciousness, getting into a flow state and communicating the message of the music to the listener. Essentially practicing is more a thinking activity, and performance a feeling one.

         - Artur Rubinstein


Only when the tide goes out do you discover who’s been swimming naked.

         - Warren Buffet


The purpose of technique is to free the unconscious.

         - David Mamet

It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.

         — The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho


Pain is the truth; all else is doubt

         - Waiting for the Barbarians by JM Coetzee


All knowledge, the totality of all questions and all answers, is contained in the dog.

         — Franz Kafka


A man should have the ability to go up in a hurtling piece of machinery and put his hide on the line and then have the moxie, the reflexes, the experience, the coolness to pull it back in the last yawning moment — and then go up again the next day, and the next day, and every next day.          - The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe


The library is, with its careworn and temporary offerings, as lovely and as poignant a reminder of our actual human condition as the tides or a forest in fall. 

         - Ben Dolnik


A song success must have easy phrasing and it must be within the range--one octave--of the average singer's voice. A hit, too, must have one haunting, unforgettable phrase. I don't think the name of a song has anything whatever to do with its ultimate success unless, of course, it's a comedy song and then the title plays a big part.

         - Irving Berlin


Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future.

         — Lewis B. Smedes.


I have learned that if you must leave a place that you have lived in and loved and where all your yesteryears are buried deep, leave it any way except a slow way, leave it the fastest way you can. Never turn back and never believe that an hour you remember is a better hour because it is dead. Passed years seem safe ones, vanquished ones, while the future lives in a cloud, formidable from a distance.

         — Beryl Markham


In his disturbance; when his darling sons,

Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse

Their frail original and faded bliss,

Faded so soon. Advise, if this be worth

Attempting, or to sit in darkness here

Hatching vain empires.

         - Paradise Lost, Book II (372)

The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest, best financed, most applauded, and, on the whole, least successful exercises in moral philosophy.  That is, the search for a truly superior moral justification for selfishness.

         - John Kenneth Galbraith


I think the more the listener can contribute to the song, the better; the more they become part of the song, and they fill in the blanks. Rather than tell them everything, you save your details for things that exist. Like what color the ashtray is. How far away the doorway was. So when you’re talking about intangible things like emotions, the listener can fill in the blanks and you just draw the foundation.

         — John Prine


Without an easy access to exceptions in favor of unfortunate guilt, justice would wear a countenance too sanguinary and cruel

         - Alexander Hamilton The Federalist No. 74.


Jesus understood that what ultimately changes people’s lives are relationships rather than rule books, mercy rather than moral demands. 

         - Peter Webber


... the vigor of government is essential to the security of liberty; that, in the contemplation of a sound and well-informed judgment, their interest can never be separated; and that a dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government.

         — The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison


I warn you against believing that advertising is a science.

         - Bill Bernbach 


If you don’t want anyone to know anything about you, don’t write anything.

         ― Peter Townshend


Life is too short to sacrifice so much of it, to living with a bastard.

         - Bill Bernbach 


A pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, an optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.

         - Winston Churchill


It takes a tremendous amount of work to educate citizens to resist the powerful pull of believing what they already believe, or what others around them believe, or what would make sense of their own previous choices.

         - Timothy Synder. 

For Black people in this country there is no legal code at all. We’re still governed by the slave code.

         - James Baldwin


You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

         — Martin Luther King, Jr.


If you live in the real world all the time it can be kind of boring.

         - Senator Patrick Leahey. 


I saw Picasso at a party or an opening or something crowded and awful in New York. I spoke to him. I repeated what I had written in my letter: How do we do it? What do we do when the images and the words do not come forth? How do we survive? How do we remain artists? He looked at me with those glorious eyes, snapped back that shiny, bald head and told me that we are not artists; "we do not concern ourselves with 'art.' We are workmen, day laborers--who happen to work with paints and clay and actors, and curtains part on occasion to display what we do. Tell the truth as you know it. Art may happen; it may not. We are not owed its presence.            

         - Tennessee Williams

I have the artist torture thing going on, too, where I'm a little conflict-seeking because it's creative. I like to feel sad sometimes. And I like to feel happy. I really like to feel. It's inspiring to me.

         - Miley Cyrus 


Mark Twain had a real understanding of the difference between the word on the page and delivering it on a platform You have to leave out a lot of adjectives. The performer is an adjective.

         - Hal Holbrook

People who want to understand democracy should spend less time in the libraries with Aristotle and Socrates, and more time on the buses and in the subways.

         - Simeon Strunsky

You have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. 

         - Nina Simone

When Miles Davis says, ‘Play what you don’t hear,’ he means, trust your imagination. Trust yourself to say, ‘I don’t know what I’m going to do next, but I’m just going to do it because it’s fun. Because I love it.’

         - Chick Corea


In war, the first casualty is truth.

         - Aeschylus


Talent is helpful in writing, but guts are absolutely necessary.

         - Jessamyn West


Racism is a system. As such, it is fueled as much by chance as by hostile intentions and equally the best intentions as well. It is whatever systematically acclimates people, of all colors, to become comfortable with the isolation and segregation of the races, on a visual, social, or economic level—which in turn supports and is supported by socio-economic discrimination.

         - Samuel R. Delaney


To be able to hold back information about oneself, or to channel it and influence how one is seen by others, gives power.

         - Sissela Bok


One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness visible. 

         - Carl Jung


Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.

         - Lao Tzu


Anything you can imagine you can make real. 

         - Jules Verne

There is always the danger you do the right things for the wrong reasons.

         - Queen Gunnhild, Vikings

No artist is pleased… There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

         - Martha Graham

I don’t force it. If you don’t have an idea and you don’t hear anything going over and over in your head, don’t sit down and try to write a song. You know, go mow the lawn.

         - Neil Young

If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.

         - Charlie Parker

Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.

        - Oscar Wilde


Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness.

        - Maya Angelou


Quiet people have the loudest minds. 

        - Stephen Hawkins


I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

        - James Baldwin


Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.

        - Rumi

Only the present is important because nothing ever occurs in the past or future; things happen only in a continuous stream of present moments.

        - Eckhart Tolle


The reality we experience is just a story that our brain tells us. 

        - Will Storr


Be generous. Be curious. Be intentional. 

        - Steve Johnson


A professional writer is an amateur that didn’t quit. 

        - Richard Bach. 


It’s easier to fool someone than to convince them they’ve been fooled.

        - Mark Twain 


As a species, we evolved in rocky landscapes. We have been building these (stone piles) for thousands of years. They’re a way to say: I am here, I have lived. 

        - David B. Williams Cairns: Messengers in Stone


You know, sometimes you eat the bear and sometimes the bear eats you.

        - George R.R. Martin

Throughout his life, Leonardo DaVinci strove to understand and unravel the mysteries of the world. It wasn’t because he desired fame or glory, but because he was driven by a deep curiosity.

        - Walter Isaacson 


Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. 

        - Margaret Mead


Your pipe is drawing sweetly, the sofa cushions are soft underneath you, the fire is well alight, the air is warm and stagnant. In these blissful circumstances, what is it that you want to read about? Naturally, about a murder.

        - George Orwell


Money is like water in the sea. People work for money, then they don’t want to split it. It’s that kind of attitude. So much guys have so much – too much – while so many have nothing at all. We don’t feel like that is right, because it don’t take a guy a hundred million dollars to keep him satisfied. Everybody have to live.

        - Bob Marley


The human heart has hidden treasures, in secrets kept, in silence sealed; the thoughts, the hopes, the dreams, the pleasures, whose charms were broken if revealed. 

        - Charlotte Brönte


People like me are aware of their so-called genius at ten, eight, nine…. I always wondered, “Why has nobody discovered me?” In school, didn’t they see that I’m cleverer than anybody in this school? That the teachers are stupid, too? That all they had was information that I didn’t need? I got lost at school.

        - John Lennon


I'll tell you what freedom is to me. No fear.                - Nina Simone.

If a political party does not have its foundation in the determination to advance a cause that is right and that is moral, then it is not a political party; it is merely a conspiracy to seize power.

        — Dwight D. Eisenhower


Living life is like falling down through a pinball machine, with balls bouncing off of each other, causing action and reaction in an unexpected way, and that’s how I view storytelling: having that great balance of all the various elements. Something is allowed to be funny and serious sometimes within the same moment or scene.

        - Richard Rush


I am so proud of the warrior I created from the ashes that were meant to bury me.

          - Najwa Zebian


I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

          - Walt Whitman



People whose lives have been shaped

by history—and it is always tragic—

do not want to talk about it,

would rather dance, give parties

on thrift-shop china. You feel

wonderful in their homes,

two leaky rooms, nests

they stowed inside their hearts

on the road into exile.

They know how to fix potato peelings

and apple cores so you smack your lips.


The words start over again

hold no terror for them.

Obediently they rise

and go with only a rucksack

or tote bag. If they weep,

it’s when you’re not looking.


To tame their nightmares, they choose

the most dazzling occupations,

swallow the flames in the sunset sky,

jump through burning hoops

in their elegant tiger suits.

Cover your eyes: there’s one

walking on a thread

thirty feet above us—

shivering points of light

leap across her body,

and she works without a net.

        - Lisel Mueller


It’s an insane thing. Young women, we’re expected to know and do everything, and be everyone’s mom when we’re like, 15. 

        - Billie Elish


The biggest mistake people make in life is not trying to make a living at doing what they most enjoy. 

        - Malcolm Forbes

Sometimes you hear, fifth-hand,

As epitaph:

He chucked up everything

And just cleared off,

And always the voice will sound

Certain you approve

This audacious, purifying,

Elemental move.

        - Philip Larkin

Social scientists have long shown that most people are inveterate liars, and might be even more adept at lying to themselves

        - Arthur C. Brooks


Death is just the turning of a key in a lock. 

        - Stephen Knight 'Taboo'


Music is the closest thing after silence, it can be expressed in what cannot be described.

        - Aldous Huxley


The idea that ugly aspects of American history should not be taught, for fear that students—white students in particular—might draw unfavorable conclusions about America, is simply an argument against teaching history at all. 

        - Adam Serwer


Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.

        - Miles Davis


In a very real sense we are all aliens in a strange planet. We spend our lives reaching out and trying to communicate. If during our whole lifetime we could reach out and really communicate with just two people, we are indeed fortunate. 

        - Gene Roddenberry 


Stay connected to what you love and be ready to answer the call.

        - Levon Helm


We’re born from the world, not into it. Much as the ocean creates waves, the planet earth creates people.

        - Alan Watts. 


When you make the two one, and when you make the inner as the outer… then shall you enter the Kingdom.

         - Jesus


The greatest flaw of the species is the overwhelming tendency to mistake agreement for truth.

        - Richard Powers 'The Overstory'  


A city belongs to those who are willing to fight for it, whose lives and whose labor make it run.

        - Kim Philips-Fien


A man’s character isn’t his fate; a man’s fate is the joke that his life plays on his character.     

        - Philip Roth ‘Operation Shylock’


Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work. And [have] the belief that things will grow out of that activity itself and that you will — through work — bump into other possibilities and kick open other doors that you would never dream of if you were just sitting around looking for a great 'art idea'…If you hang in there you will get somewhere. 

        - Chuck Close


If you set your goals ridiculously high and it's a failure, you will fail above everyone else's success. 

         - James Cameron

What I have learned is that absolutely nothing in the world is about us--about me--and everything in the world is about how we react and respond to things. Action or anger. Love or hate. Empathy or denial. Life is the study, and the lessons arrive daily. 

        - Marlon Brando/Interview with James Grissom

Adam’s curse. We only see things that look like us. Sad story, ain’t it, kiddo?

        - Richard Powers ‘The Overstory’

Time makes more converts than reason.

        - Thomas Paine

Power concedes nothing without demand.

        - Fredrick Douglas

It seems entirely sensible if we can reimagine them music industry and how it could work in a day driven world.

        - Imogene Heap

If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, then when?

         - Rabbi Hillel 


I wanted to be a star in my own mind, I wanted to be my own star. I didn't want to be a star for people I didn't really identify with. For me what I did was a way of life, it wasn't an occupation.

        - Bob Dylan

A person without courage is the single most worthless thing on the planet. Nothing you fear will destroy you as fully as the actual fear that motivates you. Stand up and lose a fight. Better than skulking toward a tiny victor

        - Katharine Hepburn

Insist on believing that good will prevail; that the work will get done; that there will again be love. We have to want to get up in the morning for the good mornings to arrive.

        - Tennessee Williams 


We labour at our daily work more ardently and thoughtlessly than is necessary to sustain our life because it is even more necessary not to have leisure to stop and think. Haste is universal because everyone is in flight from himself.

        - Friedrich Nietzsche

I never wanted to let my fears put my dreams to sleep. 

        - Stevie Wonder 


The longer I live, the more convinced am I that this planet is used by other planets as a lunatic asylum.

        - George Bernard Shaw


I found no kindness in others because it wasn’t present in me. It’s that simple and that hard. Whatever we wish to see in the world must first appear in our minds.

        - Marlon Brando/Interview with James Grissom

I would like to believe that love is the only energy I’ve ever used as a writer.

        - Athol Fugard The Paris Reviewed 


Truth lives on in the midst of deception.

        - Fredrick von Schiller


String theory is an attempt at a deeper description of nature by thinking of an elementary particle not as a little point but as a little loop of vibrating string. 

        - Edward Witten



When we give up on truth, we concede power to those with the wealth and charisma to create spectacle in its place.

        - Timothy Synder



You can’t expect somebody who loves you to treat you less cruelly than he would treat himself. 

        - Hannah Arendt


I will take fate by the throat; it shall not wholly overcome me. Oh, it is so beautiful to live — to live a thousand times! I feel that I am not made for a quiet life.

        - Beethoven


Apply seat of pants to chair. 

        - Mark Twain's rule for writing

Science fiction is never about the future, it’s always about the present.

        - Gordon Briggs

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born.

        - Richard Dawkins

The conscious problems with which one is concerned in the actual writing are more those of a quasi musical nature, in the arrangement of meter and pattern, than of a conscious exposition of ideas. 

        - T.S. Eliot


It is a privilege to meet some people; it is a disaster to meet some people; it is shocking to meet some people; but there is a category of people, which is the worst: Meeting them means nothing!

        - Mehmet Murat


If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve. 

        - Debbie Millman


The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time. 

        - Mary Oliver