Inspirational Quotes from Thomas McGuane

By | March 25, 2019

I had a passionate zest for Key West life in all of its little details. I’m not sure why or where that came from, but I was so excited to be there.

Thomas McGuane

One of the illusions that we live by is that we can really know anybody else, and we’re often surprised by traits in people that we thought we knew very well. The struggle to overcome loneliness, which is sort of our universal burden, leads us to leap to conclusions about who other people are.

Thomas McGuane

I’ve spent as much of my life fishing as decency allowed, and sometimes I don’t let even that get in my way.

Thomas McGuane

I had a spell no more striking than other people of my job description. I did all the things you weren’t supposed to do. I had a motto: When in doubt, try it. I went out and committed experience.

Thomas McGuane

Marriage is anti-romantic – husband and wife are terms like ‘turkey’ and ‘goose.’ Worse, they denote ownership.

Thomas McGuane

People don’t understand how much influence they can actually have on a writer, how much a writer’s feelings can be hurt, how much they can deflect his course when they raise their voices like they did over highly personal books like ‘Panama’ or ‘Bullet Park.’

Thomas McGuane

There’s a view of Montana writing that seems stage-managed by the Chamber of Commerce – it’s all about writers like A. B. Guthrie and Ivan Doig. It used to bother me that nobody had a scene where somebody was delivering a pizza.

Thomas McGuane

One of the reasons I’m reluctant to start a novel is it’s such an obsessive activity. You get in there, you don’t know anything else while you’re in there. And that’s quite a sacrifice to make, especially for us old guys where time is kind of short. You don’t want to disappear for a year; you want to be outdoors.

Thomas McGuane

My parents and my sister died… very close together, and after that, I lost quite a bit of my sense of humor. Most of it I think has kind of come back, but I know there was a time when I didn’t think things were funny anymore. I kind of think they’re funny again.

Thomas McGuane

I find it more consoling to think of myself as little than to think of myself as big. I think I’ve gotten that from animals, particularly dogs. Dogs live such a modest life, and they don’t live long, and the more you’re around them, you kind of accept that.

Thomas McGuane

Maybe I haven’t been tested, but I have no fear of death at all. I was with Allen Ginsberg during the last year of his life, and he called all his friends and said, ‘I’m on my way out, and it’s kind of exciting.’ I see it as kind of exciting, too.

Thomas McGuane

My twenties were entirely taken up with literature. Entirely.

Thomas McGuane

My friends seem to think that an hour and a half effort a day is all they need to bring to the altar to make things work for them. I couldn’t do that. I thought that if you didn’t work at least as hard as the guy who runs a gas station, then you had no right to hope for achievement. You certainly had to work all day, every day.

Thomas McGuane

I really do love ‘Panama.’ But I’d also have to admit that right now, if I were driven to write another novel like that, I wouldn’t even try to find a publisher for it. It simply wouldn’t be published. I’d be writing it to put in my closet upstairs.

Thomas McGuane

I’m certainly afraid of not being able to write for some reason. I guess I’ve had spells of not necessarily writer’s block, but something like that. I find that pretty terrifying.

Thomas McGuane

If I get too old to write, or short-term memory loss – that was the one Philip Roth was worried about – if I got to that point, that would be terrible, because everything about my life has been streaming toward writing and having something to say. That would make me feel as though I were in an iron maiden of some kind.

Thomas McGuane

I think anybody alert to the inspiration to write has to be kind of sensitized to the unexpected.

Thomas McGuane

Literature is the ditch I’m going to die in. It’s still the thing I care most about.

Thomas McGuane

I wrote a lot of ‘Driving on the Rim’ by giving myself the gift of being just as eccentric as I felt like.

Thomas McGuane

All the ranchers I know have had back surgery, operations on their rotator cuffs. They all have new knees. I’d like to think I belong to that breed, but I don’t.

Thomas McGuane

It took me a long time to know enough about writing to really write short stories. You can’t just immerse yourself, as you do in a novel, and see where everything goes. Novels are a very flexible, accommodating form. Short stories aren’t.

Thomas McGuane

Probably, subliminally, I think of the reader as a kind of collaborator. I don’t want to say something for the reader that the reader could have said for himself.

Thomas McGuane

You never see a teaser for a film on television that doesn’t have someone running around a corner with a gun. Have you noticed that?… I think Hollywood has as much responsibility for gun violence as the National Rifle Association.

Thomas McGuane

I had a kind of tough early life. I had a tough time in school. I had an unsympathetic family in terms of what I was trying to do. I decided that my family situation was simply hopeless. I kinda bailed out, and my brother and sister didn’t. I failed at marriage, which I’m very upset with myself over.

Thomas McGuane

I strongly believe that literature can do something that nothing else can do, and that is embody the human spirit.

Thomas McGuane

I’ve outlived my parents, and I’ve had some wonderful second chances in life. I feel remarkably uncheated.

Thomas McGuane

I’m a neurotic fiction writer who’d like to be a cowboy.

Thomas McGuane

I like to write about the solitary things people do. Humans seem to function best when they’re alone.

Thomas McGuane

Summertime in Montana, I become a monosyllabic baboon. I want to ride with the cowboys, go to brandings, doctor cattle, and train my horses. But in a few months, the snow starts to fly. The days become shorter; the yellow color of interior light becomes delicious. I look at my shelves, and every book just glows, and I want to be inside of that.

Thomas McGuane

I think there’s only one interesting story… and that’s struggle.

Thomas McGuane

I think when I first started out, I had a kind of an exuberance about language, comedy, narrative leaps that… stopped just short of non sequiturs. And I’m much more cautious now.

Thomas McGuane

I’m a really a fanatical reviser, and there comes a point where I have to declare a truce with the text, or I’ll keep fooling with it forever.

Thomas McGuane

I liked Hemingway better before I began to be called ‘Hemingwayesque.’

Thomas McGuane

I never wanted to be a celebrity writer. I wanted to be a good writer. I’m still trying to be a good writer. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Thomas McGuane

I’m very grateful for what I have. I’m old enough that I can mort out at any minute without any sense of regret at all. That’s not true. I might look back and think I wish I hadn’t been so selfish when my kids were smaller. But I’m not overwhelmed by regret.

Thomas McGuane

You reach a point at which you have to view your life through the things you’ve spent so much time doing. The alternative is a perilous feeling of waste.

Thomas McGuane

Anglers who see fish exceptionally well can fish successfully in less productive water than anglers who don’t. Fishermen love equipment and are always looking for mechanical advantages, but there is nothing to compare with learning to see well; if you see well enough, you can walk out in the mud with no boat and catch fish.

Thomas McGuane

Not long ago, in response to a spell of insomnia, I learned some of the principles of meditation, to empty my mind piece by piece. It was like the old game of jacks – cautiously lifting each jack clear of its neighbor until only the empty background remained.

Thomas McGuane

I like Halldor Laxness and Machado de Assis – people who try to understand the human condition by looking at intimate pictures of human life.

Thomas McGuane

I’m a great reviser. I do these reckless drafts just to get the lay of the land.

Thomas McGuane

I’m always surprised to rediscover that there’s something kind of scary about life; and that the feeling we have that we’re in charge is probably ill founded.

Thomas McGuane

I’m not considered as illegitimate as I once was. Because in a sense, I’m like lip cancer – I’m not going to go away.

Thomas McGuane

I am not a team player, including my inadequacies as a parent.

Thomas McGuane

A lot of the writers I’ve known for 20 years, who used to say, ‘Maybe they’re right – the novel is dead!’ – well, now they don’t feel that it’s necessarily the biggest job or most sacred calling on the planet. But it’s definitely a real thing – it’s always been here, always will be here, and one might just as well buckle down and get to work.

Thomas McGuane

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