Every morning, I pop open the world’s social media coffers. I shouldn’t, but I do. Marketing is everything, so I’m told, more important than one’s actual ability to write, apparently.
And so…every day I visit Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and every day dozens of slick literary quotes reach out and slap me. Seriously…quotes are everywhere. Some are famous. Some not. To be fair, many are crap. I mean really bad. Like when an author is trying to impress a fan base only to post something woefully vague or grammatically poop-tastic. Other quotes are taken out of context or weakened by Twitter’s character limit. And still others are laughably inappropriate when considering who posted them. You know the ones I mean.
Even so, I typically stumble upon a few gems.
Look, I’m gonna level with you. I’m not one for posting or Tweeting or paying much mind to other people’s quotes. I figure the true measure of a writer is his ability to write his own quotes, and that true inspiration should come mostly by accident. While it’s not exactly a cop out to share other folks’ inspiring words, nor is it satisfying for me to put their words in my mouth. So many modern quotes tend to be ‘cat-poster’ material, neither eloquent in design nor powerful in effect. They’re supposed to inspire, but all they do is make me queasy.
Let’s make a little contest of this. Here are a few quotes you’ve probably never read or heard before. They’re not indie (because I hate that term) but they’re probably off the usual grid. I’ll offer a few hints, but I’m not going to give up the authors’ names. I’m not even going to list the source material. If you happen to know who wrote ’em, go ahead and boast in the comments below. To anyone who can guess even five of these, I’ll send something free.
Nine quotes – off the grid
A warning for a soldier:
“Facile est ultio. Easy vengeance. Never harm a living thing whose children you’ve never seen.”
As felt by the next-to-last man standing:
The air was crisp, but not chilling, and fresher than any he’d ever breathed. Standing on the slope beneath the trees, he felt small, yet strangely at peace, for as he looked to the sky he found comfort in his defeat.
Making fun of pretentious people:
“Do people think that staying in a room where an extraordinary person once slept will transfer their greatness to them? Relevance by osmosis?”
As read on an arrogant man’s tombstone:
“History may deem my killer a hero, but I went willingly.”
The worst kind of regret:
“It is hard to write their names. If the ink should run, it is because my hand shakes when I think of what I have done. I agonize over whether I should describe these things, for I so often want to forget them.”
Image is everything:
No one wanted their fortunes read by some guy in a t-shirt and jeans. People wanted theatrics…
As experienced by a man who thought he’d won, but really lost:
“I ran howling from the house, from the city, from the world. Where I went and how I survived all those nights in the bitter rain, I’ll never be able to piece together. He never came for me, but he’d killed me all the same.”
From a mother to her son:
“But those are just dreams, my sweet. This is the world we live in, and we’ve no choice but to make it our own. Maybe one day the shadows will lift and we’ll be free and happy. We only need to survive until then.”
“I want to.”
“What’s that, love?”
And from a different mother to a different son, on the subject of why everyone should read books:
“Not all people are the same, dearie. Some treasure the earth and the rain, and live for growing food that others might eat. Some favor the sword, and try to claim dominion wherever their boots fall. Others, like us, are undecided. To understand what you wish to do in life, you must first understand what life is.”
So there you go. I’ll post more quotes in the year 2050, by which time no one will read anything deeper than Spacebook posts and Twiddler feeds.
J Edward Neill
Author of this.
Co-author of this.