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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


Joan Didion

National Book Award

Joan Didion: Vogue used to have a contest for college seniors called the Prix de Paris, and my mother had pointed it out to me when we were living in Colorado Springs during the war, and we were snowbound, and we were looking through Vogue. We had all these little entertainments, and she pointed it out to me as something I could win when I got old enough. So lo and behold, I entered it, and I did win it. So the prize at that time was a job.
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Joan Didion

National Book Award

Joan Didion: I just wanted to write a fast novel. You always have a vision of what kind of object a piece of fiction is going to be, or anything that you're making. In that case, it was going to exist in a white space. It was going to exist between the paragraphs. Some of the chapters are only three or four lines long in that book, and I found a way to speed it up. I had started it -- just because I didn't know how else to start it -- I started it with two or three characters (who) have short first-person statements, and then it goes into a "close third" for what appears to be the rest of the book, but as the book comes to an end and starts gaining momentum, you can pick up a lot of momentum by going back to this device from the beginning. This sounds so technical. You go back to that first person and shorter and shorter bursts, and it really gives you a lot of speed. So I was sort of thrilled with that.
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David Herbert Donald

Two Pulitzer Prizes for Biography

David Herbert Donald: My biography of Wolfe was something of a surprise to everybody, perhaps including myself. I had finished several Lincoln books, about aspects of Lincoln in the Civil War, and I thought to myself, I don't think I want to do that again, right now anyway, but what would I do? About that time, we decided we'd go on vacation in North Carolina. There's wonderful areas out there in the western mountains, and we enjoyed it immensely. And driving back from the mountains, we went through Asheville, and I thought, you know, we ought to stop there and see Thomas Wolfe's house, which I had seen once before, but my wife never had, and so we did. We went through that house. It was a very impressive old house in a sense, it was huge. It was, indeed, as Wolfe's father said, "a damned old barn." It was practically empty, all these little cubicles with a light hanging down by a cord in the middle of it, a narrow flat bed, maybe one bureau and a chair. That's all it was furnished with. People came to rent rooms there because of the mountain air, and Julia Wolfe made a living for the family by renting. And I thought to myself, "Isn't it odd that Thomas Wolfe, who writes the most luxuriant prose of any American, so full of description, so full of wonderful language, should emerge from this absolutely barren background?" And I told my wife, I said, "You know, somebody ought to do something about Thomas Wolfe," and she said, oh yes, I ought to, and we drove home.
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Sam Donaldson

ABC News Correspondent

There's a picture of me at age 8 in a Cub Scout uniform holding a crystal microphone, obviously pretending that I was reading the war news. Don't ask me why I thought I wanted to do that, but I did. My mother had taught me to read, had read to me. She clearly was pushing me to try to do something with my life. And I began to read the newspaper and pretend I was reading the war news. This is the earliest known point at which something in my mind said maybe I wanted to be in the news business. But believe me, at age eight I had no idea of what the news business was like, nor did I have any feeling of the public's right to know, or the First Amendment. That would be revisionist history. I was just getting a kick out of it.
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Sam Donaldson

ABC News Correspondent

I didn't come east of the Mississippi for the first time in my life until I was 26 years of age, but I knew. I read magazines, I listened to radio, I watched television. I knew there was something out there, and I wanted a part of it. I wanted to be in the news business, and I thought to myself, "Hey, I want to go to New York or Washington and be in the news business. That's where the action is." Now, I want to make clear that I think people who want to stay in Dallas, or in Farmington, New Mexico, or in Dubuque, Iowa are terrific. You decide what fulfills you, and where you want to work. And it's not a failure to stay in a small town and lead a wonderful life and do great work there. But for me, I wanted to see more. And I wanted to do more. And in those days at least, more meant bigger. It meant a grander scale, it meant more importance and a bigger scene. And that's what propelled me, in a foolhardy way, to quit my job in Dallas and go to New York without a job, because I wanted to do something up there.
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