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Key to success: Vision Key to success: Passion Key to success: Perseverance Key to success: Preparation Key to success: Courage Key to success: Integrity Key to success: The American Dream Keys to success homepage More quotes on Passion More quotes on Vision More quotes on Courage More quotes on Integrity More quotes on Preparation More quotes on Perseverance More quotes on The American Dream


Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

Frank McCourt: I think I was always attracted to writing. I always wanted to write because for me it was magic to get a piece of paper and put words on it. As I'm always saying, to put together words that were never before put together by anybody. To take two words that were never joined together like a "scintillating turnip." I would put words together like that just to keep the language fresh. When I was nine or ten I was trying to write a detective novel, an English detective novel, set in London, which I had never seen. All I knew about London was what I read in English detective novels. So I was always up to something like that, and writing little playlets that I'd make my brothers act in.
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Frank McCourt

Pulitzer Prize for Biography

It would have been easier to do what my three brothers did, go into the bar business. Go up there and meet glamorous men and beautiful women on the East Side and stay out all night drinking and have brunch with some long-legged creature from Boston. No. I thought of that but then I thought of the kids in the classroom, and there was something more appealing about that. And besides I wanted to get through. I wanted to get through to them and I wanted things to click, and sometimes in the -- there's something that happens in a classroom that I know actors experience and artists, in general. There's some time when you make a breakthrough, and some light goes on. One day in McKee I made a breakthrough of some kind, and for me there was kind of a white blazing light in the room and I went, "Jesus, this is absolutely orgasmic in an intellectual and emotional sense."
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

I think what we must do in education, for example, is to bring the lab techniques used in science to the teaching of the humanities, to the teaching of history, and English, and journalism, and the arts. That's the great thing about the arts. You don't learn to paint, except by painting. You don't learn to play the piano, except by playing the piano. By the same token, I think you become an historian, I think you become a scholar by being required to do original scholarly work, original detective work of a kind that's involved with doing scholarly research. And once you do that, once you get on that track, you catch the bug, and you find out that this is really exciting.
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

Time and place. You, all of us, each of us, is limited to how much time we have on Earth by the biological clock. Now do we want, therefore, to have the experience of being alive constrained to that time only? No. It would be like saying, "You live there. You must stay in that one spot where you are in space all of your life." So you are no more required to stay in one spot in time than you are in space and that time travel you can do is in history. It's in the past, which is the larger experience of humankind on Earth. And the past isn't just history in the usual literal sense. It's music, art, history. It's culture, language, culture, and you can experience all of that, the more you know, because you can go back as far as you want, out as far as you want, and suddenly you're infinitely more alive, and that's what history is about. History is about life, about people.
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David McCullough

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

I try to do the research, up to maybe the point where I think 60-some percent of it is done, and then I begin writing. And it's in the writing that you begin to find out what you need to know, and what you don't know, and it's perhaps circumstantial, but I don't think so. I try to write four good pages a day. That's double space, typewritten pages. I still work on a typewriter, a manual typewriter, because I love the feeling of making something with my hands. Maybe it's because I started out as a painter and a sculptor. I like the feeling of working physically with my hands, and I also like the idea that if there is a power failure, or if something happens, that I won't be unplugged. I can keep working. I am the power source, not that plug in the wall. And, I love it when you swing the bar, and that little bell rings. It's like an old trolley car. And I also am superstitious about many things concerned with the craft, and I think I find most writers are -- many much more so than I am. And, I've written all my books on that typewriter, and it probably has 250,000 miles on it now.
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

Audra McDonald: For me, I am constantly forcing myself to evolve, because, I think, to stagnate creatively -- there's a certain death that happens with that. Because if you're not moving forward and you're not evolving, you're devolving, and I don't want to go backwards. I want to be better at what I do tomorrow than I am today. I don't want to be worse. It may be in a different way, or maybe I've turned a corner and tried a different part of a career, or maybe I'll take my big mouth and maybe do something at a more political level somewhere down the road, or teach or something like that. But it has to be a constant sense of evolution. Yeah, I equate it with death.
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

Audra McDonald: It's an incredible rush, especially the live aspect of it. It's easy to spend -- especially in this day and age -- to spend your time not being in the present. It's very easy to be way ahead. What's tomorrow and the day after that? Or fixated on something in the past, or virtually somewhere else. Whatever, watching a football game online, whatever, just not being. And the one thing about live performance and what makes it so scary is all you have is that moment. You must be in that moment. You cannot be ahead of it, you cannot be behind it. You can be making sure you're aware of what you have to do next, but regardless, that moment forces you to be in the present. And that's a rush. It's something that a lot of people run from, because it can be scary. But that's also where life happens, I think. And so for me it's -- maybe I'm an addict. I'm addicted to that rush. I'm also addicted to those moments when you're on stage and the audience is so quiet you could hear a pin drop and you realize that you're in communion. That's an incredible experience. That's a cosmic experience, as far as I'm concerned, without getting way out there. But you feel the communion of the collective consciousness in that moment when you're on stage doing something and the audience is absolutely with you. And the audience becomes a collective entity as well. They come in from separate places and socio-economic backgrounds, and places across the world and days that they've had, and then they come together and they become one collective thing, and experience something in a collective way. That's a powerful, powerful thing to experience. So I'm definitely addicted to that, too.
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Audra McDonald

Six Tony Awards

This sounds like terrible grammar, but I want to do. I want to do the singing, I want to do the acting, I want to do the concertizing. I want to do the plays. I want to do the musicals. I want to become a great artist. This sounds really cheesy, but if ever there was an award that I would want to win some day, it would be like a Kennedy Center honor. That would mean to me that I've amassed a body of work that has not only sort of affected the arts and made an impact on the arts, but that's a large enough body of work and a varied enough body of work and a lengthy enough body of work that it deserves an honor. That to me is like, that would be a great goal. But if that were to happen someday, which would be amazing if it did, then next day I would still be like, "Okay, cool. Now, I've never been able to sing this note really comfortably. I should figure out how to really " You know what I mean? There's always more to learn.
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