Writing inspiration from Vladimir Nabokov

Vladimir NabokovI’d click into anything with a  title like that. : )

The Russian-American writer Vladimir Nabokov is one of my favorite writers, and sometimes I feel somewhat like a type of  (accidental) groupie.

I studied at Cornell, the university where he taught until he made his name with Lolita and happily gave up academia to write full time. I took a Russian literature course in the faculty in which he once taught, albeit decades too late – and heard the campus legends of how difficult it was to actually meet with the professor: how his wife, Vera, graded the students’ term papers and kept them at arms length to protect her husband’s writing time.

I spent a year working as a journalist in Valdosta, Georgia, where, I was shocked to discover in a recent  New Yorker article, Nabokov once visited  and pursued his other passion – searching for butterflies. Apparently, he discovered a new species in that little town in America’s deep south. He kept a detailed diary of his days there.

And then, this past summer found me in beautiful Montreux, Switzerland, where Nabokov and his wife decamped after leaving Ithaca, New York far behind. They lived  in the luxurious, lakeside Montreux Palace Hotel until his death in 1977. I saw the statue dedicated to him on the lake’s edge. See my earlier post .

So, as I will soon be embarking on a new project, I was pleased to read Nabokov’s inspiring words on the writing process  in this month’s edition of  Writer’s Digest:

The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.

How could a writer not be struck by this beautiful imagery? Especially as he or she is ready to start a new project.

Here’s hoping all our pages are filled with that invisible ink, simply clamoring to become visible with our efforts. Thank you for the writing inspiration, Vladimir Nabokov!


  1. evelyneholingue on January 30, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    You’ve really been tracing Nabokov, Kimberly! The citiation you picked is so eloquent! This is really an incredible feeling to start a new writing piece. Excitement and anxiety are close neighbors for writers. I wish you the best with your new project. See you, Kimberly.

    • kimberlysullivan on February 2, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Yes, I have been a bit of a stalker, haven’t I? But do I still qualify as a stalker if I’m decades too late? I’m a big fan of Nabokov. And he impresses me even more that he writes so beautifully in a language that is not his own (something I’m sure you can appreciate, Evelyne!) And yes, I loved this quote, too, and thought all writers would appreciate it when they are starting out on a new project.

Leave a Comment