Random quotes I’ve collected over the years

“Dear God, only now am I remembering that people die. Does that include me?
Don’t forget, in the meantime, that this is the season for strawberries. Yes.”

The Hour of the Star, Clarice Lispector

“I regret that it takes a life to learn how to live. Because if I were able to live my life again, I would do things differently. I would kiss my piano teacher, even if he laughed at me. I would jump with Mary on the bed, even if I made a fool of myself. I would send out ugly photographs, thousands of them.”

–Jonathan Safran-Foer, in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

“Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”


“I do not exist to impress the world. I exist to live my life in a way that will make me happy.”

 Illusions, Richard Bach

“Here was one room; there another. Did religion solve that, or love?”

Virginia Woolf, “Mrs. Dalloway”

“When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth.”

Kurt Vonnegut, attributed by Anne Lamott in Bird by Bird

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

Junot Diaz

“You haven’t done anything wrong. Didn’t take an MFA? You didn’t do anything wrong. Took 11 years to write your first book? You didn’t do anything wrong. Don’t feel like writing about your family? You didn’t do anything wrong. Feel like writing about your family? You didn’t do anything wrong. Want to write about Asians? You didn’t do anything wrong. They keep trying to tell us we did fucking something wrong. You’re an artist. How could you do anything fucking wrong?”

Junot Diaz

“You say to yourself, Well, this poem isn’t going to be any good, but I’ll write it anyway.”

Robert Bly (via theparisreview)

“Don’t worry. Don’t worry about anything. It doesn’t help. I have spent a lot of time believing that I could control the outcome of events by worrying about them. I think that is what therapists call magical thinking. But your thoughts don’t make a difference. All that matters is what you do. So I would say my best advice is do the best you can and assume the result will be good. I wish I had been enjoying myself all the times I was anxious and not.”

Elizabeth Wurtzel

(Source: reddit.com)

“You have to be willing to write badly. You can’t say, “I’m going to write habitually, and it’s going to be good.” It’s unpleasant to write badly, but it’s much more important show up on a regular basis so that you’re there when the good stuff comes.”

Jennifer Egan

“I decided to totally accept failure. I was like, ‘Yes. If this book totally fails, I will write another book. And if that book totally fails, I will write [another].’ This is how I deal with stress… I imagine the worst-case scenario, and I try to decide whether or not I can take it. And [I thought], if I’m like 85, and I’m lucky enough to live that long, and I have [not] published a single book but I’ve dedicated myself to trying to write something that matters and is true, then, yes, that will be a life that I’m willing to accept.”

Catherine Chung

“I don’t care what other books are like, bad or not. I am going to keep doing this. I cannot be stopped.”

Aleksander Hemon

“Comparison is an act of violence against the self.”

Iyanla Vanzant

“Youth has enormous pressures. There are so many expectations, so many worries about the future: who am I?; what will I become? You are surrounded by authority figures: your parents are still alive; your teachers are a presence in your life. You are trying to please all of these people. What’s liberating about getting older is that after a certain point there are no more authority figures in your life. And you are so keenly aware of the gift of each day. One of my favorite titles is from Henry Miller: “Paint As You Like and Die Happy.” I couldn’t have taken that advice when I was 20. I couldn’t. I didn’t have the perspective. But now those very words by Miller are my motto. It’s not always possible to paint what you want, and it’s not always possible to die happy, but boy you can die trying.”

Mary Ruefle

“And God said “Love Your Enemy,” and I obeyed him and loved myself.”

خليل جبران ‎ Khalil Gibran

“In the end I would rather wonder than know.”

Mary Ruefle, “On Secrets” from “Madness, Rack, & Honey”

“Insanity is ‘doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results.’ That’s writing poetry, but hey, it’s also getting out of bed every morning.”

—Mary Ruefle, Madness, Rack, and Honey

“At least I can still read, he said to himself, at once dubious and hopeful.”

Bolaño, Woes of the True Policeman, pg. 86

“In the end there are certain things you can take with you when you flee, things that have no weight, such as music.”

Visitation, Jenny Erpenbeck, pg. 108

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”

Audre Lorde

“I didn’t have him, but I had this writing, and he could not take it away from me.”

Lydia Davis, The End of the Story, pg. 197

“You kneel beside her, breathing the familiar smell of Sasha’s sleep, whispering into her ear some mix of I’m sorry and I believe in you and I’ll always be near you, protecting you, and I will never leave you, I’ll be curled around your heart the rest of your life, until the water pressing my shoulders and chest crushes me awake and I hear Sasha screaming into my face: Fight! Fight! Fight!”

–Jennifer Egan, A Visit From the Goon Squad

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