Best Quotes from Tobias Wolff

I teach one semester a year, and this year I’m just teaching one course during that semester, a writing workshop for older students in their late 20s and early 30s, people in our graduate program who are already working on a manuscript and trying to bring it to completion.

Tobias Wolff

There’s a joy in writing short stories, a wonderful sense of reward when you pull certain things off.

Tobias Wolff

Everything has to be pulling weight in a short story for it to be really of the first order.

Tobias Wolff

You have to be kind of clued into them, they are a world of their own, and most people find them disappointing because the best short stories are not constructed like novels.

Tobias Wolff

Most of us don’t live lives that lend themselves to novelistic expression, because our lives are so fragmented.

Tobias Wolff

You don’t teach information in a writing workshop.

Tobias Wolff

The reader really has to step up to the plate and read a short story.

Tobias Wolff

I try to help people become the best possible editors of their own work, to help them become conscious of the things they do well, of the things they need to look at again, of the wells of material they have not even begun to dip their buckets into.

Tobias Wolff

That, for me, is a very important test of a young writer’s commitment because most of them are going to have to continue doing that when they’ve finished the program.

Tobias Wolff

One of the last courses I taught was on the Russian short story, which I love.

Tobias Wolff

I love Chekhov. I could go on all day about him.

Tobias Wolff

Because I don’t have to be careful of people’s feelings when I teach literature, and I do when I’m teaching writing.

Tobias Wolff

Anybody can be very destructive in that position without at all meaning to be, and I know that I have been inadvertently destructive in the past for certain people on certain occasions.

Tobias Wolff

Like so many writers I started writing stories because I didn’t have much time for anything else.

Tobias Wolff

I believe that the short story is as different a form from the novel as poetry is, and the best stories seem to me to be perhaps closer in spirit to poetry than to novels.

Tobias Wolff

Because the more you write the more you’re aware of the weight of your tradition and the difficulties of the form and the more you have already done that you do not want to do again.

Tobias Wolff

There are writers who do start doing the same thing again and again and almost inevitably fall into self-parody.

Tobias Wolff

But a lot of writers – and I’m one of them – do tend to feel dissatisfied. It makes you a little hard to live with, but it’s a goad and does keep you alert and restless.

Tobias Wolff

And you can tell the writers who do it – Robert Stone, for example, who with each new novel is doing something new. I appreciate that in other writers.

Tobias Wolff

Work for most people is really very social, and the actual thinking is often done in community.

Tobias Wolff

Of course it’s why you want to become a writer – because you have the liberty to do that, but once you have the liberty you also have the obligation to do it.

Tobias Wolff

It’s probably why I’m a short story writer. I tend to remember things in the past in narrative form, in story form, and I grew up around people who told stories all the time.

Tobias Wolff

Perhaps that is why the novel flourished in England. You had these communities that would stay put and people would see one another all the time and cause one another to change and have the opportunity to observe the changes over time.

Tobias Wolff

The short story, on the other hand, is the perfect American form.

Tobias Wolff

But as my brother was doing his research for a book about my father, it became his opinion that the most influential anti-semitism my father encountered when he was growing up was from Jews, because his relatives were German Jews, and doctors.

Tobias Wolff

Memory is funny. Once you hit a vein the problem is not how to remember but how to control the flow.

Tobias Wolff

When I was about 14 or 15 I decided to become a writer and never for a moment since have I wanted to do anything else.

Tobias Wolff