Colm Toibin quotes

  • Writing tends to be very deliberate. A novelist could probably run a military campaign with some success. They could certainly run a country.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Running #Country #Military

  • All writing is a form of manipulation, of course, but you realize that a plain sentence can actually do so much.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Writing #Manipulation #Realizing

  • I have to write a first draft with a fountain pen before I type it up as a second.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Writing #Firsts #Fountain

  • The sentences I write have their roots in song and poetry, and take their bearings from music and painting, as much as from the need to impart mere information, or mirror anything. I am not a realist writer, even if I seem like one.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Song #Writing #Mirrors

  • I am violently untidy. My desk is overcrowded. I write my first drafts in longhand in a long notebook using a plastic throwaway fountain pen. Then I work on a word processor using a different desk and a different room.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Notebook #Writing #Long

  • I did think of becoming a priest quite late on, when other boys were thinking of knocking over fences and going out with girls. I would have made a very good bishop: nice housekeeper, nice clothes - god, the clothes.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Girl #Nice #Boys

  • I first went to Barcelona in 1975 after university, and I stayed for three years. I learnt Catalan because that's what everyone speaks in the mountains. They speak English to foreigners, but what people say to each other is much more important than what they say to you.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Years #People #Important

  • I never listen to music when I am writing. It would be impossible. I listen to Bach in the mornings, mostly choral music; also some Handel, mostly songs and arias; I like Schubert's and Beethoven's chamber music and Sibelius' symphonies; for opera, I listen to Mozart and in recent years Wagner.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Song #Morning #Writing

  • I said that when I looked at photographs of the firefighters who went into the Twin Towers, their faces looked to me like Irish faces. I hadn't yet learnt how careful outsiders have to be when talking about race in America, and I'd put my foot in it. Someone stood up and said aggressively, 'What do you mean by Irish faces?'
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Mean #Race #Talking

  • I was first in Sydney in 1993, and have been a few times since then. For someone who didn't know Australia, it came as a shock how intelligent, interesting and funny the people were. If I lived there I might see it differently, but as a visitor it was a lot of fun.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Fun #Intelligent #Australia

  • I went to live in Barcelona in 1975, when I was twenty. Even before I went there, I knew more about the Spanish Civil War than I did about the Irish Civil War. I liked Barcelona, and then I grew to like a place in the Catalan Pyrenees called the Pillars, especially an area between the village of Flavors and the high mountains around it.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #War #Mountain #Twenties

  • I've never put Northern Ireland into a novel because it's not my territory. I come from the South, so my imaginative territory is very much the Republic of Ireland rather than the North. Even though, if I wrote a novel about the North, it might sell more.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Republic #Might #Territory

  • It may be enough to study history in all its nuance and ambiguity for its own sake. But there is no country free of the need to find new ways of reading the past as an inspiring way of thinking about everything else, including the present.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Country #Reading #Past

  • The problem is once you've written the opening paragraph and worked out how the rest of the story will go in your head, there's nothing in it for you. I write in longhand using disposable fountain pens on the right-hand side of the notebook for the first draft, then I rewrite some of the sentences and paragraphs on the left-hand side.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Notebook #Writing #Hands

  • Roth Unbound is filled with intelligent readings and smart judgments. Because of the author's sympathy and sharp mind, it offers real insight into the creative process itself, and into Philip Roth's high calling as a great American artist. The book is, in some ways, a radical rereading of Roth's life and his work. It is impossible, by the end, not to feel a tender admiration for Roth as a novelist and indeed for Claudia Roth Pierpont as an empathetic and brilliant critic.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Smart #Real #Reading

  • Writer's block! It doesn't exist. You just long for ideas to go away so you have an idea of peace.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Block #Ideas #Long

  • Three of my novels and a good number of my short stories are told from the point of view of men. I was brought up in a house of women.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Men #Views #Numbers

  • Suffering is too strong a word, but writing is serious work. I pull the stuff up from me - it's not as if it's a pleasure.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Strong #Writing #Suffering

  • Anyone who works in the arts knows, if you're writing a novel or a play or anything, you have to be ready for someone to say, 'Your time is up.'
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Art #Writing #Play

  • I write with a sort of grim determination to deal with things that are hidden and difficult, and this means, I think, that pleasure is out of the question. I would associate this with narcissism anyway, and I would disapprove of it.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Determination #Writing #Mean

  • Between the ages of 8 and 12 it was difficult to know what my father was saying, and he moved very slowly, and then he died.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Father #Age #Difficult

  • I live in words. I like looking at things, but I don't have a strong visual imagination.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Strong #Imagination #Visuals

  • I suppose one should have an integrated personality, but I've never really seen the point.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Personality #Should #Integrated

  • I think fiction lends itself to messiness rather than the ideal, and plays well with the ironies surrounding what happens versus what should happen.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Thinking #Play #Fiction

  • I think you can get a sort of intensity and an edginess offering nine stories in a book. Competing versions of things.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Book #Thinking #Offering

  • I wrote every day between the ages of 12 and 20 when I stopped because I went to Barcelona, where life was too exciting to write.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Writing #Age #Barcelona

  • 'One Minus One' and 'Barcelona, 1975' are more or less autobiographical.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Barcelona #Minus

  • Life has a funny way of becoming ordinary as soon as it can.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Ordinary #Way #Becoming

  • John McGovern taught me that it's OK to write repeatedly about the same things.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Writing #Taught

  • It really matters to writers to find and treasure readers, all the more when they're on the other side of the world.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #World #Treasure #Matter

  • It is important to find a publisher and equally important not to be noticed until your third or fourth book.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Book #Important #Thirds

  • The old Victorian laws against homosexuality were still on the statute books until the early 1990s. As a gay man living in Ireland, I and people like me found it easy to feel less than citizens.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Book #Gay #Men

  • I do not know why it matters that I should tell the truth to myself at night, why it should matter that the truth should be spoken at least once in the world. Because the world is a place of silence, the sky at night when the birds have gone is a vast silent place. Words will make the slightest difference to the sky at night. They will not brighten it or make it less strange. And the day too has its own deep indifference to anything that is said.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Night #Sky #Differences

  • I like it that they [disciples] feed me and pay for my clothes and protect me. And in return I will do for them what I can, but no more than that. Just as I cannot breathe the breath of another or help the heart of someone else to beat or their bones not to weaken or their flesh not to shrivel, I cannot say more than I can say. And I know how deeply this disturbs them, and it would make me smile, this earnest need for foolish anecdote or sharp simple patterns in the story of what happened to us all, except that I have forgotten how to smile.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Heart #Simple #Clothes

  • She was lonely without Blunt, but she was lonelier at the idea that the world went on as though she had not loved him.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Lonely #Ideas #World

  • As I settled down to sleep in that new bed in the dark city, I saw that it was too late now, too late for everything. I would not be given a second chance. In the hours when I woke, I have to tell you that this struck me almost with relief.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Sleep #Dark #Second Chance

  • ..Some of our loves and attachments are elemental and beyond our choosing, and for that very reason they come spiced with pain and regret and need and hollowness and a feeling as close to anger as I will ever be able to imagine.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Pain #Regret #Attachment

  • in skies of deepening blue the moon, heaven's queen was now afloat
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Queens #Moon #Blue

  • You create a world away from home and make new rooms for yourself. But when you arrive back home in your old rooms, the world you've made for yourself ceases to be real. Everything seems to crumble. Anyone who's been sent away to boarding school can understand that.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Real #Home #School

  • While historians may go on attempting grand, sweeping and defining narratives, they work in a time when readers know that another narrative always lies in wait, and that the more intelligent an historian is, the more tentative and self-scrutinizing the tone.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Lying #Intelligent #Self

  • When a book comes from the publisher and you see it for the first time... Of course it's not remotely like seeing a baby for the first time, but I can remember with each book what room I was in when I opened it. That would be excitement, though, I think. Not pride.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Baby #Book #Pride

  • The Roman Catholic Church and its rituals were so much part of life that, although my parents would often question a small matter of dogma and none of us seemed more religious than anyone else, no one ever questioned the rituals or the basic tenets of belief.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Religious #Parent #Catholic

  • I work very deliberately, with a plan. But sometimes I come to a point that I planned as the end and it needs softening. Ending a novel is almost like putting a child to sleep - it can't be done abruptly.
    -- Colm Toibin

    #Children #Sleep #Needs