I’m on holiday at the moment, in a cabin by Loch Ness with my daughter. Being a teenager she rarely sees pre-noon so this gives me the morning to have a run, and also to finish off my book edits. I have been collecting quotes to add to each chapter, but have been debating whether to use these.
I have a love-hate thing going on with quotes. I used to love a good quote, but the internet has ruined them. A quote on any subject is just a google search away, and twitter is full of those inspirational quotes that are meant to make you want to be the next Steve Jobs. If you want me to unfollow you on twitter, then an inspirational quote a day is a pretty sure way to realise it. That all of the beauty, complexity and nuances of life are reduced to pithy, Nike-advert type quotes makes me want to become a recluse in a cabin by Loch Ness and communicate solely through the medium of beard growth.
But having said that, I do love the judicious use of quotes in both literature and non-fiction. They not only bring in a different voice, but when used well, add a different perspective to the text you are reading that the author themselves cannot provide. So, I’ve decided to plough ahead with quote use, but adhere to these self-imposed rules:
- The quotes must be from material I have read myself and not just searched for a relevant quote
- They are not directly referencing the content, eg there aren’t quotes about “open”, or “education”
- They are slightly oblique to the content of each chapter, so hopefully consideration of the quote in relation to the content adds something extra
- They are well written, so the discerning reader can use them as stepping stones of quality to navigate the peaty bog of my own prose.
I’ll leave you to be the judge as to whether they work or not. Because as Emerson said “I hate quotations”