The Voice of the Quiet American: Author Joyce Carol Oates

by HeatherGeo

Where does a writer’s passion come from? Joyce Carol Oates is one of the most prolific American writers.

American Author

Joyce Carol Oates – American Author

In her career she has written novels, short stories, plays, essays, poetry books, and has a seemingly endless stream of inspiration and manifests itself into beautiful story ideas. She is inspired by every day occurrences and big news items, by missing her home city, and she even finds ideas while running.


By far, I have read more of her books than any other writer, and I cannot keep up with her outpouring of work. She writes a book nearly every year and never shrinks back on literary quality or page turning plots. She examines the underbelly of society and gives a voice to those who do not know how to express themselves in a clear way.

A lot of her characters move through life with a rapid inner dialogue that rages and a small voice that they show to society. It’s cool. She offers great lessons on how language, ideas, and experience are assembled to create art.


Here are some quotes from her book The Faith of A Writer

“Inspiration and energy and even genius are rarely enough to make art: for prose fiction is also a craft, and craft must be learned, whether by accident or design. 

“Young or beginning writers must be urged to read widely, ceaselessly, both classics and contemporaries, for without an immersion in the history of the craft, one is doomed to remain an amateur: an individual for whom enthusiasm is ninety-nine percent of the creative effort.”

“Art is the highest expression of the human spirit.”

“The individual voice is the communal voice.”

“The regional voice is the universal voice.”

“Write your heart out. Never be ashamed of your subject, and of your passion for your subject.”

“Your ‘forbidden” passions are likely to be the fuel for your writing.”

“Without all these ill-understood drives you might be a superficially happier person, and a more involved citizen of your community, but it isn’t likely that you will create anything of substance.” 

“Read widely, and without apology.”

“Write your heart out.” 

My method is one of continuous revision; while writing a long novel, every day I loop back to earlier sections, to rewrite, in order to maintain a consistent fluid voice; when I write the final two or three chapters of a novel, I write them simultaneously with the rewriting of the opening of the novel, so that, ideally at least, the novel is like a river uniformly flowing, each passage concurrent with all the others.

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