Quotes for Your Journal

Some new quotes for your journal or quote book:


“A wedding day is the easiest to make happy. You just throw in a ton of money and liquor, but a marriage is hard to make happy because when you throw a ton of money and liquor at it, it often makes things worse.”
–Rabbi Jonathan E. Blake, Westchester Reform Temple, Scarsdale, NY.

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”         ― Stephen King


“Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”   ― Stephen King

“If you want to really hurt you parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country


Quinn McDonald is a writer.

String of Words.

Note: Congratulations to Anne Cross, who is the winner of the giveaway of Pam Carriker’s Creating Art at the Speed of Life. Contact me (right above the color header) and send me your mailing address, and the book will be on the way!

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quote-a-book-of-quotations-can-never-be-complete-robert-m-hamilton-283470Coming across a sentence that lights up a page is one of the joys of reading. I’ve come to a complete stop (to hell with the plot and characters)  and read a sentence over again several times. Then I’ll highlight it or mark it. When I’m done reading the book, I’ll go through it looking at the highlighted sentence again. Sometimes, I have no idea why I loved them. Those I let go.

Ahhh, but sometimes, they are perfect. They hold a speck of wisdom like a drop of water in a curled leaf. Unexpected, sparkling. I began collecting quotes and sentences from books.  I often take them to art classes, because they make wonderful words to add to collages and journals.

Often, I’ll pick a quote at random and start writing about it. I’ll have different takes on different days. I’m surprised at what I find in myself.

6a013485f24774970c01901b624f54970b-piWant to start keeping your own quote pages? I’ll help you get started. You can add even more by looking up any of the people you don’t know.

“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.” — Elizabeth Lesser

“Stop comparing your insides to other people’s outsides. Remember, they’re doing the same thing.”  —Martha Beck

“You know what? People can take a lot from you. They can take away everything except your mind and your heart. Those things you have to give away. I decided not to give them away, and neither should you.” — Nelson Mandela, explaining how he overcame his bitterness, hatred, and resentment

“We’re all just walking each other home.”  –Ram Dass

“The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” –Nelson Henderson

“I beg you to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a foreign language. Don’t search for the answers which would not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.” — Rainer Maria Rilke

Quinn McDonald is in love with words. And today’s blog post is brought to you by her word of 2014, Scatter.

Tips, Quotes, Ideas

aleph1On this morning’s walk, I photographed some “alien alphabets” –marks on the street left by the utility company. The name needs to change. In Arizona, “alien” is not a little green humanoid from outer space, it’s a slur for people not born here. On the same walk, I added other alphabet figures  based on shapes–gates, grates, tree limbs. No new name yet, but a lot of exploration ahead.

You probably have a file of quotes someplace on your computer. Me, too. I got a aleph2gift of a bunch of quotes from Traci Paxton Johnson, and added to it. Today, I noticed I had 27 pages of quotes. Printing them out (back and front of the pag, of course) and storing them in the studio for future use (I have that alphabet to try out) made sense. So did sharing some of the quotes that slid by on the screen on the way to the printer:

“Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” –Japanese proverb

“Fear is the natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.” —Pema Chodron

“If you think you are too small to have an impact, try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room.” —14th Dalai Lama

aleph3“In the end, we remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” —Martin Luther King

“Patience is not about how long you can wait, but how well you behav while you’re waiting.” —Buddhist Bootcamp

Tip: If you live in a hot climate and have sliding doors, don’t grease them with oil. The heat degrades it and makes it stickier. And it collects cat hair.  Instead, rub the runners with plain candle wax. Works wonders.

Tip: Tired of drinking water all day long? Gather up some stray tea bags, brew them and make a blended ice tea. Choose a mix of fruit flavors and green tea–rose hips, hibiscus, mango, blackberry, and green tea. A great refreshing drink. No calories, lots of flavor, lots of antioxidants.

Tip: Have blank pages at the end of your journal? Fill them with an index–using page numbers or dated pages, so you can flip to the back and know what’s in each journal. Or use the back pages to test colors of new inks, paints, or pencils.

–Quinn McDonald is switching to summer hours, not because she likes getting up at 4:30 a.m., but because the sun rises early and so do the cats.




Book Review: Kicking In the Wall

1608681564.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_Time for another book review. No giveaway this time, while reading the book, I began writing in it, but more on that in a minute.

Title: Kicking In the Wall: A year of writing exercises, prompts, and quotes to help you break through your blocks and reach your writing goals.

Whew, that’s a super long sub-title (I can’t really complain, the one on my next book requires a gatefold, too.)

Details: Paperback, 233 pages. Published by New World Library. Price: $15.95

Author: Barbara Abercrombie.  Here’s an excerpt from her website:

Barbara Abercrombie has published novels, children’s picture books, including the award winning Charlie Anderson, and books of non-fiction. Her personal essays have appeared in national publications as well as in many anthologies. Her most recent books are Courage & Craft: Writing Your Life Into Story and Cherished: 21 Writers on Animals They’ve Loved & Lost. Her latest writing book, A Year of Writing Dangerously, was just published by New World Library, and chosen by Poets & Writers Magazine as one of the best books for writers.

Barbara Abercrombie

Barbara Abercrombie

What I like about the book: This is a book with 365 writing prompts in it. Each page starts with a quote in a gray-screen box, followed by one or several prompts that somehow relate to the quote. This idea appeals to me.

Even better, the prompts are strong and interesting. Examples:

23. Write about a time you worried about something, but then nothing happened. Did you feel foolish? Relieved? Disappointed?

102. Write about a time you couldn’t see. Literally or figuratively.

162. Write about someone carrying a purse. How they carry it, or where they put it when entering a room.

The idea behind each prompt is to spend five minutes writing about the prompt, whatever shows up in front of you. It’s a traditional free-writing method, and very effective.

My favorite chapter is at the end–a collection of five-minute writings by her pupils, using the prompts in the book. It was fascinating to read answers to the same prompt from different people to see how perspectives vary.

What I didn’t like: Not much. I’d like to be told a bit more about the quotes at the top of each page–perhaps I should know all these authors, but I don’t. In the back of a book is a bibliography followed by a list of all authors quoted. That should allow me to cross reference and find who wrote what. It doesn’t always work that way. For example, Clive Barker’s quote is on page 41, but his work is not listed in the Bibliography. Maybe the quote is from this Clive Baker. Or this Clive Barker. It’s a small gripe, but as someone who uses quotes books for reference, I like them easy to use.

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You could answer the questions in any order, checking them off as you go. The quotes sometimes support fiction writers, sometimes non-fiction, sometimes discovery questions for journalers.

Some pages have enough white space to write on. That’s how I accidentally started to write in the book. For a flash, I thought, “this would be a great commonplace book, writing in the book and commenting on the prompts, dating the pages I write on as I go along.” After a while, I thought, “this would work so well in my new collage piece, particularly if I tear up and use some of these prompts.” I abandoned both ideas, but maybe not forever. I just don’t know yet. And until I do, I’m not ripping up anything. But I may do more writing in the book.

—Quinn McDonald is a writer intrigued with quotes and resulting prompts, even if she’s not sure which Clive Barker said, “I think the fear of insanity touches everyboy who works in the imaginative arts, who is really plunging deeply into themselves.”

Feeling the Pull of the Poetry Tide

“Human salvation lies in the hands of he creatively maladjusted.”
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

“A man who has no imagination has no wings.” –Muhammad Ali

"The poet's task is to obscure the point, not to reveal it." --Jon Mychal http://www.jonmychal.com

“The poet’s task is to obscure the point, not to reveal it.” –Jon Mychal

Poetry is not given much value in today’s world. Tell someone you are a poet and they ask you what you do “in real life.” And yet, poetry is the literary equivalent of singl-malt scotch–the distillation of a vision into a dream.

“I listen so that I may decipher the mystery of myself and become more whole.” –Richard Moss

Poetry comes from a tumultuous life, followed by the stillness of the soul that allows sorting out and choosing the seeds of a story, a life, a moment that will blow away in the wind of the next breath.

“Images are the heart of poetry. Images come from the unconscious. . . .Your’re not a poet without imagery.” –Anne Sexton

I will be teaching the how-to of poetry in Minneapolis this May and at Madeline Island in July. Give yourself the gift of stillness and the transcendence of your own voice. Join me at one (or both) of those locations.

Journaling Quotes

First, the winner of the Extreme Origami book from Nov. 25’s blog post:  Congratulations to Kristin McNamara Freeman! Send me your mailing address and the book is on the way. *     *     *

Time to update your journal with some good quotes. Here’s one I stole from Liz Crain, a contributor to the new book and a skilled ceramicist. The quote isn’t Liz’s, but it’s written on a shelf in her closet:

“If you can’t get rid of the skeletons in your closet, you’d best teach them to dance.”  –George Bernard Shaw

Notes for the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary

And poet e e cummings understood how hard it is to live authentically: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”

Once you start to experience life in every aspect, take heart  from this quoteby  Dr. Martin Luther King:
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

And finally, Samuel Johnson (who compiled the first English dictionary; it pre-dated the Oxford English Dictionary by 150 years) is appropriate contributor to your journal.  ” Pleasure is very seldom found where it is sought. Our brightest blazes are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks.

–Quinn McDonald is working on her second book, about inner heroes and inner critics.

Quotes for your Journal

I’d love to see what you create with these quotes about life, easy and hard:

Hackberry tree filled with seedspods.

Put your ear down to your soul and listen hard.  –Anne Sexton

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The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit. –Nelson Henderson

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I know with certainty that a man’s work is nothing but the slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in which presence his heart first opened.  –Albert Camus.

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The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. — Mark Twain

—Quinn McDonald has known why she was born for a very long time. She just didn’t want to know it.

Same Creativity, Different Approach

Ask 10 people what creativity is, and you’ll get 10 different answers. That’s as it should be–individual approaches call for separate opinions.

“Curiosity about life in all of its aspects, I think, is still the secret of great creative people”
– Leo Burnett.  Burnett was a giant among advertising writers in the 1960s. His company was among the top 10 advertising agencies in the world. He was a word collector–he kept a folder of words, phrases and analogies in his lower left desk drawer. He used them to create iconic images such as the Jolly Green Giant, Tony the Tiger, and the Marlboro Man.

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“You can’t wait for inspiration, you have to go after it with a club”
– Jack London, author of The Call of the Wild and White Fang.

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Charlie Mingus

“Creativity is more than just being different. Anybody can plan weird; that’s easy. What’s hard is to be as simple as Bach. Making the simple, awesomely simple, that’s creativity”
– Charles Mingus, influential American jazz composer and double bassist. Composer of The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady.

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François-Marie Arouet, whose nom de plume was Voltaire. Image; Musee Carnavalet, Paris.

And just for frequent commentor Pete:
“Originality is nothing but judicious imitation”    – Voltaire

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Feel free to add the definition of what creativity is for you.

Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who is writing a book on conversations with the inner critic.

Tomorrow: The new Featuring magazine is out, and I’m going to do a giveaway!

Journaling Tips: When You Run Out of Words

Note: Please join me at Barnes + Noble at Desert Ridge (Tatum and the 101, Phoenix, AZ) October 6, 2011 (Thursday) at 7 p.m. to try this technique–and to get your book signed.)
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There are days when even the most fearless and constant journaler runs out of words. No problem, skip a day. But what if you want to spend time with your journal but still have run out of words?

My favorite laptop file is one of quotes and clever sayings. It started innocently enough, with a quote I liked. I typed it in, added the name of the person who said it and the source (the permalink url where I had found it). Done.  One day, when I had a design in mind, I reached for a quote to complete the design. It was easy and fun.

Many of the quotes come from friends or witty class participants.  I add it to the file along with the name of person who said it and the date and place of the class I was teaching.

From p.84 of "Raw Art Journaling", ©Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved.

Some quotes require research to figure out who said it first. Google is not a research tool, it’s a popularity engine, so Anais Nin often gets the attribution for “We see the world not as it is, but as we are.” Occasionally Steven Covey gets the attribution because he used it (unattributed, I think) in one of his Seven Attributes books. About 1,500 years before either Nin or Covey were around, the phrase was in the Talmud, the volumes of Jewish customs, philosophy, and commentary. Using quotes can be more than a page filler. It can be a study of positive and negative space. I used this small quote to define a whole page that has been sprayed with ink. The quote is a translation of what’s on the red chop (Chinese stone carving).

It says, “Do not become complacent in victory. Do not become frustrated by defeat.” It’s a quote I need to read again and again, both when the class has been wonderful and when it has been less than wonderful. It allows for growth and improvement without a lot of ego getting in the way.

Filling a small negative space is just one way to handle a quote. You can also use

From p 84 of "Raw Art Journaling", ©Quinn McDonald. All rights reserved.

words as the edges of your page, to frame a photo, a design, a doodle.The one at the right is the same quote as above, but it looks completely different when used as a frame.

This is that intersection of words and design that so intrigues me. You can see the frame as a simple space demarcation, or you can see it as a design, or you can begin to connect the frame with whatever you put inside. In this case, it’s still blank, because it is part of the instructions in my book.

Using quotes can free you from having to come up with a lot of words. Keeping them in a file allow you to sort through the exact match for your emotions, and that’s the heart of happy journaling.

For another design to go with the quote idea, see tomorrow’s blog:

–Quinn McDonald’s book, Raw Art Journaling, Making Meaning, Making Art is available at your local bookstore, or on her website, with free shipping till December 31, 2011.

Quote Game

While reading an article, I ran across a wonderful quote. When I read the author’s name, I was surprised–it was so unlikely.

And it makes a great game! See if you can match up the numbered quotes with the lettered authors. Answers at the bottom of the blog. Have fun!

A. Amy Tan (Author, The Kitchen God’s Wife)
B. Ronald Reagan (40th President of the United States.)
C. Neil Armstrong (Astronaut)
D. Ernest Hemingway (Author, For Whom the Bell Tolls)
E. Stephen King (Author, The Stand)
F. Garry Trudeau (Cartoonist, Doonesbury)

1. “I learned from my father the value of hard work and ambition, and maybe a little something about telling a story.”

2. “I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

3. “I loved fairy tales when I was a kid. Grimm. The grimmer the better. I loved gruesome Gothic tales and, in that respect, I liked Bible stories, because to me they were very Gothic.”

4. “Mystery creates wonder and wonder is the basis of man’s desire to understand. ”

5. ‘Life is like a movie-since there aren’t any commercial breaks, you have to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of it.”

6. “Talent in cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. ”

Answers are below the camera-toss photo of lights on a bridge in Switzerland by H-Peter Clamann (c) 2006.


A. (3) B. (1) C. (4) D. (2) E. (6) F. (5)

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist and certified creativity coach. See her work at QuinnCreative.com