SA4QE - The Slickman A4 Quotation Event

This fan event began in 2002 as a unique way of spreading the words of Russell Hoban. Every 4th February (Russell's birthday), readers around the world write their favourite quotations from his books on sheets of yellow A4 paper (the sort he used) and leave them in public places, and/or share them via this site or on social media with the hashtag #sa4qe

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See also the latest SA4QE tweets

The most recent posts to this site are displayed below in descending order.

SA4QE 2019 - Thoughtcat - Colchester, United Kingdom

Having taken part in SA4QE since it first started, and used a great number of quotes from Russell Hoban's books, this year I thought I'd share a passage from an interview that Russ gave in 1995 and which has only recently come to light. James Carter interviewed Hoban for his masters dissertation on The Mouse and His Child, and it lay dormant until it was submitted to last November. It's one of the best Hoban interviews I've read. The passage I quoted today struck home with me in particular because I've recently started writing in earnest again after many years of not-writing. When I first discovered Hoban, via the brilliant 1987 novella The Medusa Frequency, I was a teenage poet with aspirations to a literary life. Now nearly 30 years later, my writing career didn't quite work out as I'd hoped, although inbetween times I variously wrote a couple of unpublished novels, a handful of published poems and met Russell Hoban a number of times. My first encounter with him was at a reading he gave at the Richmond literary festival in 1999 to promote his novel Angelica's Grotto. I wrote to him after that with a poem I'd written and he wrote back almost immediately on his trademark yellow paper. I don't have the letter to hand but he said words to the effect of "I remember you well from the reading - you had the pale, determined face of someone who sticks with things and gets things done". This was very good of him, although I didn't stick with the writing quite tenaciously enough. Having recently rediscovered my love of writing though, I realise it's not going too far to say that this is always what I was meant to be doing, and that I probably needn't have struggled with style and subject so much in those early years since what turns out to interest me most is, unsurprisingly now, "the unwordable that happens off the page" as Russ once put it. That's not to say that it's not possible to write it, but rather to look at the world in a different way and write what you see and what interests you, whatever it is and even if it's not the straight reality that most of our lives inhabit. So at the same time as I was rediscovering my writing mojo, this wonderful interview emerged, with this passage.

Don’t worry about the form, and don’t worry about beginnings, middles and endings, take hold of the thing, wherever you can, whatever of an idea presents itself to you, whether it’s the foot or the elbow, grab it, and work out from there. Don’t expect too much of yourself, but – just as people who are thrifty, and who save money – and don’t wait until they’ve got fifty pounds to put in the bank, but put in a pound, or five pounds, or ten pounds, and it accumulates that way, do something every day. If you can only write a paragraph, do a paragraph. If you can write a page, do a page. A whole story, okay, an idea, okay, notes, whatever – just get into the habit of doing something every day. And, let the ideas develop as they will – don’t require of yourself that you do a whole story or a whole novel, just do whatever you can – every day.

This is some of the best creative writing advice I've ever read. I may not, actually, manage to do some writing every day, but it makes writing seem a possible thing to do, which is exactly what you need when you're trying to get your head around a creative project as well as juggle the rest of life's demands.

Read the full interview:

As last year I took my yellow paper out to the river with my girlfriend Katy, who also took part, although she outdid me on the quote quantity. I stuck my quotation on the local village notice board underneath a notice advertising a local "pre-Valentine's Day market". On the other side of the notice board were more signs of village activity, including a splendid one advertising "East Anglia Potato Day". I think Russ would have liked something about that.

Filed under Colchester United Kingdom

SA4QE 2016 - Lindsay Edmunds - Southwestern Pennsylvania, United States

Russell Hoban called Turtle Diary his “gateway novel.” It was that for me when I found it in a Bethesda, Maryland, used bookstore one day. Since then, it has been joined by many other Hoban books, but it still is my favorite. Every time I reread it, I make new discoveries. With language Russ was an adventurer and a guide, too. He was a pearl-diver.

That trains mostly stay on rails, that the streets are mostly peaceful, that the square continues green and quiet below my window is more than I have any right to expect, and it happens every day.

Filed under Southwestern Pennsylvania United States Turtle Diary

SA4QE 2015 - Alastair Bickley - London, United Kingdom

I printed a dozen copies, leaving one on the southbound tube train that took me to Clapham Common, another on a park bench, and a couple more at a bus stop I walked past. A couple more I tucked into newspapers at cafes near my place of work, and another in a phone box - not that anyone much uses these nowadays, except for non-telephonic purposes. After work I left another on the train that took me back to Elephant and Castle - noting en route that the park bench copy was still there, although thumbed; left in situ I hope in a spirit of generosity rather than indifference. The copy in the phone kiosk was still there two days later, before at last disappearing. It's good to be back.

Various quotes from The Medusa Frequency, The Moment Under the Moment and My Tango with Barbara Strozzi.

Filed under London United Kingdom My Tango with Barbara Strozzi The Medusa Frequency The Moment under The Moment

SA4QE 2015 - Alida Allison - Colorado, United States

My first quote for 2015 is from Hoban’s 1975 The Sea-Thing Child. The second quote is from the novel Pilgermann, published in 1983, set during the Crusades, and said by the Jewish Pilgermann to his Muslim friend Bembel Rudzuk near the end of the story.

That night the sea-thing child heard the air humming. He looked up at the sky for the star that he always looked at, but it was blotted out. He could not see the star with his eyes, but in the dark of his mind he saw it burning and flickering over the sea. The humming of the air grew louder, and the sea-thing child stepped out of his double circle and faced into the wind. The ocean was high and wild, and the sky and the sea roared together, heaving in the dark.

The sea-thing child spread his wings to keep from falling down, and the wind blew him backwards. He moved forwards against the wind, then he began to run, faster and faster. The beach slipped away under him, he laughed, and flapped his wings and flew up into the storm.

'To me it seems that the best we can hope for in this life is honesty of error; more than that is just not to be expected.'

Filed under Colorado United States Pilgermann The Sea-Thing Child