Academy of Achievement Logo
Home
Achiever Gallery
Keys to Success
 Passion
 Vision
   + [ Preparation ]
 Courage
 Perseverance
 Integrity
 The American Dream
Achievement Podcasts
About the Academy
For Teachers

Search the site

Academy Careers

 
 
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


John Irving

National Book Award

There's no reason you should write any novel quickly. There's no reason you shouldn't, as a writer, not be aware of the necessity to revise yourself constantly. More than a half, maybe as much as two-thirds of my life as a writer is rewriting. I wouldn't say I have a talent that's special. It strikes me that I have an unusual kind of stamina. I can rewrite sentences over and over again, and I do. And the reshaping of something -- the restructuring of a story, the building of the architecture of a novel -- the craft of it is something I never tire of. And maybe that comes from what homework always was to me, which was redoing, redoing, redoing. Because I always made mistakes, and I always assumed I would. And that meant that my grades weren't very good, and that meant that school was hard for me. But when I got out of school and my focus could go to the one thing I wanted to do, the novel, the screenplay of the moment, I knew how to work. I knew how to concentrate, because I had to.
View Interview with John Irving
View Biography of John Irving
View Profile of John Irving
View Photo Gallery of John Irving



John Irving

National Book Award

I don't begin a novel or a screenplay until I know the ending. And I don't mean only that I have to know what happens. I mean that I have to hear the actual sentences. I have to know what atmosphere the words convey. Or is it a melancholic story? Is there something uplifting or not about it? Is it soulful? Is it mournful? Is it exuberant? What is the language that describes the end of the story? And I don't want to begin something, I don't want to write that first sentence until all the important connections in the novel are known to me. As if the story has already taken place, and it's my responsibility to put it in the right order to tell it to you. Do I begin at the beginning chronologically? Sometimes. Or is it the kind of story that's better to jump into in the middle and go backwards and forwards at the same time? I am a person who just can't make those judgments -- I can't come to those decisions -- unless I know what's waiting for me at the end. What makes this story worth the five years it's going to take me to write it? What is emotionally compelling enough at the end of this novel? What's waiting for you that's going to move you at the end of this story? That makes a reader tolerate how long and complicated and at times difficult it's going to be? And so I always go there. I write those end notes as if they were two pieces of music, so I know what I'm going to hear at the end of the story. I know what the sentences themselves, what they're going to sound like, and I put them in a log. You know? And they're waiting for me, and I know I'm not going to get to that part of the story for four, five -- in the case of this most recent novel, seven years, but it's important to me that I hear it.
View Interview with John Irving
View Biography of John Irving
View Profile of John Irving
View Photo Gallery of John Irving



John Irving

National Book Award

John Irving: You've got to be disciplined. I think the sport of wrestling, which I became involved with at the age of 14 I competed until I was 34, kind of old for a contact sport. I coached the sport until I was 47. I think the discipline of wrestling has given me the discipline I have to write. There's a kind of repetition that's required. In any of the martial arts, and in some other sports as well, but especially in the martial arts sports, you repeat and repeat over and over again the dumbest things, the simplest moves, the simplest defenses, until they become like second nature. But they don't start out that way. They don't start out that way. And I think what I've always recognized about writing is that I don't put much value in so-called inspiration. The value is in how many times you can redo something. The value is in the importance of the refrain. The third time you repeat something, it has more resonance than the second time you repeat something, if it's good enough to begin with. Right?
View Interview with John Irving
View Biography of John Irving
View Profile of John Irving
View Photo Gallery of John Irving



Sir Peter Jackson

Oscar for Best Director

We had to basically rewrite the scripts again. We had to now write three movie scripts. So each of the scripts had to have a beginning, middle and end, and be structured as a satisfying script, so (we) had to tear everything apart and start all over again, carry on to developing, and then finally, we got to that day -- did casting -- and got to the day of shooting which was the 11th of November 1999. That first day of shoot was -- it was three years since I had made that phone call, the first phone call asking about Lord of the Rings. It was three years to get us to that place. Three years spent doing a little design work, a lot of conceptual work, location scouting. We were pretty well prepared. Even though it was three movies being shot back to back, the three years of preparation was fantastic, 'cause we knew what we were doing. We knew how we were going to do it, and we were a very, very well organized group of people.
View Interview with Sir Peter Jackson
View Biography of Sir Peter Jackson
View Profile of Sir Peter Jackson
View Photo Gallery of Sir Peter Jackson



Sir Peter Jackson

Oscar for Best Director

So I stayed at home with Mum and Dad, who didn't charge me anything to stay at home, and was able to save this money. Got my 16-mil camera eventually, after a couple of years. And at that point I started working on a film that started out as a short movie, because I wanted to try the camera out. It was a Bolex camera, a 16-mil spring-wound camera, but quite complicated, more sophisticated than what I'd ever done. I had to set my own exposures, develop with a light meter, and had to learn how to do that, because all the Super 8 cameras were just auto point-and-shoot things. So I suddenly had to figure things out. And I didn't want to waste any money at all, because I realized with 16 millimeter that three minutes of film was basically $100 -- by the time you've bought the roll of negative, you again have to process the negative, and then you have to get a print made off the negative. By the time you'd gone through that, back in those days, it was $100 to get those three minutes done. So this was serious now.
View Interview with Sir Peter Jackson
View Biography of Sir Peter Jackson
View Profile of Sir Peter Jackson
View Photo Gallery of Sir Peter Jackson



Donald Johanson

Discoverer of Lucy

As a student, I was supported with a National Institutes of Dental Research Traineeship, so I was expected to do something in the area of teeth. And since teeth are the things that preserve the best in the fossil record, it was appropriate to do this sort of study. I did a long, very boring thesis on chimpanzee teeth. I traveled all over Europe and looked at museum collections, and published -- or produced -- a very thick thesis on all the detail of chimpanzee teeth. And that prepared me for understanding the teeth of our human ancestors better than anything else I could have done. During the course of my research for my Ph.D., Clark was working in Ethiopia, and he was going to study some fossils of human ancestors in South Africa. He was particularly interested in what he could learn from the anatomy of the teeth and he asked me if I had any ideas of things that he should look for. I spent several hours with him, and he said, "Why don't you come with me on this trip?" Of course, I was thrilled to go to Africa to see the original fossils of this terrible tongue-twister, Australopithecus. And then I said, "Since I'm going to South Africa, and flying through Nairobi, why can't I come up and visit your expedition?" He gave me that break. He said, "Why don't you come up and visit us. Why don't you come up and see what it's like to be in the field, finding these fossils." That was the break that all of us dreamed of as students. That was in 1970, and since then I have worked on and off throughout the Great Rift Valley of East Africa.
View Interview with Donald Johanson
View Biography of Donald Johanson
View Profile of Donald Johanson
View Photo Gallery of Donald Johanson



Donald Johanson

Discoverer of Lucy

We are very carefully trained, as students in anthropology, in human anatomy. In fact, in the anatomy of a diverse set of animals. So that we learn the diagnostic features of teeth, and jaws, and various bones of the body. For example, when we are in the field, we are constantly looking at the surface of the ground for fossils which have eroded out of these ancient deposits. You can make decisions right away as to whether or not it's an antelope or a baboon or a carnivore, or whatever. Because each one has its own diagnostic anatomy. And it's something we spend a lot of time doing in school, training to identify these various things. And then of course going into the field and applying it, and even expanding our understanding of anatomical variation more, even more than we did in graduate school.
View Interview with Donald Johanson
View Biography of Donald Johanson
View Profile of Donald Johanson
View Photo Gallery of Donald Johanson



Browse Preparation quotes by achiever last name

Previous Page

          

Next Page