The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to their dream.
Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.
Aging and its evidence remain life's most predictable events, yet they also remain matters we prefer to leave unmentioned, unexplored.
Novels are like paintings, specifically watercolors. Every stroke you put down you have to go with. Of course you can rewrite, but the original strokes are still there in the texture of the thing.
Quite simply, I was in love with New York. I do not mean love in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and you never love anyone quite that way again.
I think we are all well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.
Character -- the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life -- is the source from which self respect springs.
She had to have a telephone. There was no one to whom she wanted to talk but she had to have a telephone.
California is a place where...the mind is troubled by some...suspicion that things had better work here, because here,beneath that immense bleached sky, is where we run out of continent.
Character -- the willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life -- is the source from which self-respect springs.
New York was no mere city. It was instead an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and the perishable dream itself. To think of 'living' there was to reduce the miraculous to the mundane; one does not 'live' at Xanadu.
The action is everything, more consuming than sex, more immediate than politics; more important always than the acquisition of money, which is never, for the gambler, the true point of the exercise.
Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write.
In theory momentos serve to bring back the moment. In fact they serve only to make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here. How inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here is something else I could never afford to see.
No one who has ever passed through an American public high school could have watched William Jefferson Clinton running for office in 1992 and failed to recognize the familiar predatory sexuality of a the provincial adolescent.
The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle.
Joan Baez was a personality before she was entirely a person, and, like anyone to whom that happens, she is in a sense the hapless victim of what others have seen in her, written about her, wanted her to be and not to be.
X was a woman with whom I had worked at Vogue. Seductive clouds of cigarette smoke and Chanel No. 5 and imminent disaster had trailed her through the Condé Nast offices, which were then in the Graybar Building.
It occurred to me almost constantly in the South that had I lived there I would have been an eccentric and full of anger, and I wondered what form the anger would have taken. Would I have taken up causes, or would I have simply knifed somebody?
I put the word diagnosis in quotes because I have not yet seen that case in which a diagnosis led to a cure, or in fact to any outcome other than a confirmed, and therefore an enforced, debility.
We tell ourselves stories in order to live. We live entirely by the impression of a narrative line upon disparate images, the shifting phantasmagoria, which is our actual experience.
I did consider marriage and motherhood extreme and doomed commitments. Not out of any experience of them as such, but it was simply the way I looked at things.
The devastation along the Gulf had an inevitability about it: the coast was reverting to its natural state.
The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it.
My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrusive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does.
People tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember. Writers are always selling somebody out.
Something I've always known about the screen is that if it's anything in the world, it's literal. It's so literal that there's a whole lot you can't do because you're stuck with the literalness of the screen. The stage is not literal.
And I have learned now to live with it, learned when to expect it, how to outwit it, even how to regard it, when it does come, as more friend than lodger. We have reached a certain understanding, my migraine and I.
Until now I had been able only to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened. Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.
Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer. Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear.
I think we are well-advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be. Otherwise they turn up unannounced.
It seemed that the marriage had reached the traditional truce, the point at which so many resign themselves to cutting both their losses and their hopes.
Sometimes an actor performs a character, but sometimes an actor just performs. With writing, I don't think it's performing a character, really, if the character you're performing is yourself. I don't see that as playing a role. It's just appearing in public.
I wanted to be an oceanographer, actually. It's a way of going underwater. I've always been interested in how deep it was, you know.
I learned early to keep death in my line of sight, keep it under surveillance, keep it on cleared ground and away from any brush where it might coil unnoticed.
Nor can we know ahead of the fact the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaningless itself.
I was relying on a kind of natural transition -- the transitions made by someone who is slightly deranged.
For however dutifully we record what we see around us, the common denominator of all we see is always, transparently, shamelessly, the implacable I.
Emergency, I continue to believe, is what happens to someone else.
I say that I continue to believe this even as I know that I do not.
Above all, she is the girl who 'feels' things, who has hung on to the freshness and pain of adolescence, the girl ever wounded, ever young. Now, at an age when the wounds begin to heal whether one wants them to or not, Joan Baez rarely leaves the Carmel Valley.
The impulse for much writing is homesickness. You are trying to get back home, and in your writing you are invoking that home, so you are assuaging the homesickness.
Becoming a parent is actually terrifying. A lot of people have that feeling about their dogs. And if you're the kind of person who's going to have that feeling about a dog you're definitely going to have that about a child.
I have an investment in not being crazy. I have a real investment in seeing things straight. This runs counter to that investment, so it required giving up an idea of myself, the idea being that I had control.
I've always been fascinated with marine geography and how deep things are. I was spellbound by the tsunami, for example, by the actual maps. There is just something about the unseen bottom of the sea that has always fascinated me, how deep is it.
I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.
I've come to a much more controlled idea about death and loss, but I don't think it's possible to come to that much more controlled idea until you've gone through the crazy part ... I don't mean that I'm controlled. I mean that I gave up the idea that I had control. That's the new control.
To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self, an impossible claim that one should be at once Rose Bowl princess, medieval scholar, Saint Joan, Milly Theale, Temple Drake, Eleanor of Aquitaine, one.
Everybody who undergoes a death and finds themselves grieving is obsessed with -- or maybe overly focused on -- the idea that they can't display self-pity, they have to be strong. Actually there are a lot of reasons why you are going to feel sorry for yourself, but that's your first concern.
A doctor to whom I occasionally talk suggest that I have made an inadequate adjustment to aging.
Wrong, I want to say.
In fact I have made no adjustment whatsoever to aging.
In fact I had lived my entire life to date without seriously believing that I would age.
I ... have another cup of coffee with my mother. We get along very well, veterans of a guerrilla war we never understood.
Everyone was in scrubs. I noticed one man who was not in scrubs. Is this the wife, he said to the driver. Then he looked at me. I'm your social worker. And I guess that was when I knew.
That's something else to remember. If they give you a social worker, you're in trouble.
This happened on December 30, 2003. That may seem a while ago but it won't when it happens to you.
And it will happen to you. The details will be different, but it will happen to you.
That's what I'm here to tell you.
Most death now happens in hospitals. It's been medicalized. It happens away from where we deal with it directly. And that's a huge change. At the beginning of the 20th century most people died at home. Death was much more common.
Why did I think that this improvisation could never end? If I had seen that it could, what would I have done differently? What would he?
Vegas is the most extreme and allegorical of American settlements, bizarre and beautiful in its venality and in its devotion to immediate gratification.
Why do you always have to be right. Why do you always have to have the last word. For once in your life just let it go.
That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.
I know what the fear is. The fear is not for what is lost. What is lost is already in the wall. What is lost is already behind the locked doors. The fear is for what is still to be lost.
I myself love to read those Victorian novels which go on and on, and you don't read them in one sitting. You might read one over the course of a summer, but that isn't what I want to write.
Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be. Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.
As a writer, even as a child, long before what I wrote began to be published, I developed a sense that meaning itself was resident in the rhythms of words and sentences and paragraphs...The way I write is who I am, or have become.
Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
New York was no mere city. It was instead an infinitely romantic notion, the mysterious nexus of all love and money and power, the shining and perishable dream itself. To think of 'living' there was to reduce the miraculous to the mundane; one does not 'live' at Xanadu.
Once in a while there were things in screenwriting that taught me things for fiction. But there's nothing in screenwriting that teaches you anything for the theater. I'm not sure I've ever fully appreciated before how different a form theater is.
I know something about dread myself, and appreciate the elaborate systems with which some people fill the void, appreciate all the opiates of the people, whether they are as accessible as alcohol and heroin and promiscuity or as hard to come by as faith in God or History.