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Amy Tan's Quotes

Amy Tan profile photo

Born: 1952-02-19
Profession: Novelist
Nation: American
Biography of Amy Tan

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Placing on writers the responsibility to represent a culture is an onerous burden.

Tags: Burden, Culture, Writers

There are a lot of people who think that's what's needed to be successful is always being right, always being careful, always picking the right path.

Tags: Needed, Path, Successful

I also thought of playing improvisational jazz and I did take lessons for a while. At first I tried to write fiction by making up things that were completely alien to my life.

Tags: Life, Thought, Write

I loved fairy tales when I was a kid. Grimm. The grimmer the better. I loved gruesome gothic tales and, in that respect, I liked Bible stories, because to me they were very gothic.

Tags: Bible, Loved, Respect

I think I've always been somebody, since the deaths of my father and brother, who was afraid to hope. So, I was more prepared for failure and for rejection than for success.

Tags: Failure, Hope, Success

My mother had a very difficult childhood, having seen her own mother kill herself. So she didn't always know how to be the nurturing mother that we all expect we should have.

Tags: Difficult, Her, Mother

My parents told me I would become a doctor and then in my spare time I would become a concert pianist. So, both my day job and my spare time were sort of taken care of.

Tags: Care, Parents, Time

People think it's a terrible tragedy when somebody has Alzheimer's. But in my mother's case, it's different. My mother has been unhappy all her life. For the first time in her life, she's happy.

Tags: Happy, Life, Time

She said 'I'm by commission. You don't have to pay anything until you sell anything.' I said, 'Well fine. You want to be my agent and not make anything.' I thought, 'Boy, is she dumb.'

Tags: Said, She, Thought

That was a wonderful period in my life. I mean, I didn't become an artist, but somebody let me do something I loved. What a luxury, to do something you love to do.

Tags: Life, Love, Mean

We are the kind of people who obsess over one word... but we have only one shot to get it right in concert. It was hard the first time I practiced with them. I was so nervous that my vocal chords were paralyzed for about a half-hour.

Tags: Hard, Time, Word

You write a book and you hope somebody will go out and pay $24.95 for what you've just said. I think books were my salvation. Books saved me from being miserable.

Tags: Book, Hope, Said

Writing is an extreme privilege but it's also a gift. It's a gift to yourself and it's a gift of giving a story to someone.

Tags: Someone, Writing, Yourself

Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses.

Tags: Kindness, Knows, Universe

God, life changes faster than you think.

Tags: Changes, God, Life

I have a writer's memory which makes everything worse than maybe it actually was.

Tags: Actually, Makes, Memory

I was intelligent enough to make up my own mind. I not only had freedom of choice, I had freedom of expression.

Tags: Enough, Freedom, Mind

I did not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years washing away my pain, the same way carvings on stone are worn down by water.

Tags: Away, Lose, Pain

It's a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life.

Tags: Life, Luxury, Writer

I saw my mother in a different light. We all need to do that. You have to be displaced from what's comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes.

Tags: Eyes, Light, Mother

I used to think that my mother got into arguments with people because they didn't understand her English, because she was Chinese.

Tags: Her, Mother, Understand

It's both rebellion and conformity that attack you with success.

Tags: Both, Conformity, Success

The forbidden things were a great influence on my life. I was forbidden from reading A Catcher in the Rye.

Tags: Great, Life, Reading
Much more quotes by Amy Tan below the page.

No one in my family was a reader of literary fiction. So, I didn't have encouragement, but I didn't have discouragement, because I don't think anybody knew what that meant.

Tags: Anybody, Family, Knew

Words to me were magic. You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation or whatever. It was amazing to me that words had this power.

Tags: Amazing, Feelings, Power

I wanted to write stories for myself. At first it was purely an aesthetic thing about craft. I just wanted to become good at the art of something. And writing was very private.

Tags: Art, Good, Writing

I would find myself laughing and wondering where these ideas came from. You can call it imagination, I suppose. But I was grateful for wherever they came from.

Tags: Call, Grateful, Ideas

You can get sucked into the idea that, 'Gosh, this is impressive. Maybe I should do this. It will look good.' Or 'I'll write like this because it will impress that critic.'

Tags: Good, Idea, Write

I didn't fear failure. I expected failure.

Tags: Expected, Failure, Fear

I learned to forgive myself, and that enabled me to forgive my mother as a person.

Tags: Forgive, Learned, Mother

I read a book a day when I was a kid. My family was not literary; we did not have any books in the house.

Tags: Book, Family, Read

I started a second novel seven times and I had to throw them away.

Tags: Away, Started, Times

I thought I was clever enough to write as well as these people and I didn't realize that there is something called originality and your own voice.

Tags: Enough, Thought, Write

I would still like to have that luxury, to be able to just sit and draw for hours and hours and hours. In a way, that's what I do as a writer.

Tags: Able, Sit, Writer

In America nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.

Tags: America, Else, Keep

My mother said I was a clingy kid until I was about four. I also remember that from the age of eight she and I fought almost every day.

Tags: Age, Mother, Remember

My parents had very high expectations. They expected me to get straight A's from the time I was in kindergarten.

Tags: High, Parents, Time