You know, in movie-making, parenthetically, they have a wonderful phrase: “Do what is necessary.” In other words, if you have to get a scene in before dark, the director will say, “Do what is necessary,” and what that means is, we’ll get the shot in whether it’s good or it’s bad. We’ll have it by dark because otherwise we’re lost. . . . Once you can only afford the task before you, you work quickly provided you’ve gotten yourself into a simple frame of mind. Most writing consists of getting into that simple frame of mind; it’s very, very hard to do. You know there’s so much to write about and you’ve chosen a little and that’s always irksome, and one’s always rebelling against how little there is to write about in the particular book you’ve chosen.
Norman Mailer (interviewed by Barry Leeds, 1987)
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Over the years, I’ve found one rule. It is the only one I give on those occasions when I talk about writing. A simple rule. If you tell yourself you are going to be at your desk tomorrow, you are by that declaration asking your unconscious to prepare the material. You are, in effect, contracting to pick up such valuables at a given time. Count on me, you are saying to a few forces below: I will be there to write.
Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing
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I had a quick grasp of the secret to sanity—it had become the ability to hold the maximum of impossible combinations in one’s mind . . .
Norman Mailer, An American Dream
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Cancer is the growth of madness denied.
Norman Mailer, An American Dream
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I will certainly be remembered as a journalist. In fact, I think the irony may be that I've had much more influence as a journalist than as a novelist.
Norman Mailer to Gregory Kirschling (Entertainment Weekly, 2007)
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I've written at times about the spooky element in writing. You go in each morning, and there's a blank page. Maybe it takes five minutes, maybe it takes an hour. Sooner or later you start writing, and then the words begin to flow. Where does that come from? You can't pinpoint it. You always wonder, "Will it all stop tomorrow?" In that sense it's spooky. In other words, you're relying on a phenomenon that's not necessarily dependable.
Norman Mailer, The Academy of Achievement, June 12, 2004
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A really good style comes only when a man has become as good as he can be. Style is character. A good style cannot come from a bad, undisciplined character. . . . I think good style is a matter of rendering out of oneself all the cupidities, all the cripplings, all velleities. And then I think one has to develop one's physical grace.
Norman Mailer, Interviewed by Steven Marcus, The Paris Review, Winter-Spring 1964
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I understand one element of celebrity, which is the unreality of it. . . . I used to feel I was secretary to someone named Norman Mailer; to meet him you had to meet me first.
Norman Mailer, The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing
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We sail across dominions barely seen, washed by the swells of time. We plow through fields of magnetism. Past and future come together on thunderheads and our dead hearts live with lightning in the wounds of the Gods.
Norman Mailer, Ancient Evenings
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There’s that popular misconception of man as something between a brute and an angel. Actually, man is in transit between brute and God.
Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead
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