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Joan Didion's Quotes

Joan Didion profile photo

Born: 1934-12-05
Profession: Author
Nation: American
Biography of Joan Didion

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I was no longer, if I had ever been, afraid to die: I was now afraid not to die.

Tags: Afraid, Die, Longer

I was raised an Episcopalian. And I did not and I don't believe that anyone is looking out for me personally.

Tags: Anyone, Looking, Personally

I'm not sure I have the physical strength to undertake a novel.

Tags: Physical, Strength, Sure

I'm totally in control of this tiny, tiny world right there at the typewriter.

Tags: Control, Tiny, Totally

Late afternoon on the West Coast ends with the sky doing all its brilliant stuff.

Tags: Late, Sky, Stuff

Memories are what you no longer want to remember.

Tags: Longer, Memories, Remember

Nothing is critic-proof.

Tags: Great, Service, Social

Of course, you always think about how it will be read. I always aim for a reading in one sitting.

Tags: Aim, Read, Reading

Once in a while, when I first started to write pieces, I would try to write to a reader other than myself. I always failed. I would freeze up.

Tags: Once, Try, Write

Style is character.

Tags: Character, Style

The fancy that extraterrestrial life is by definition of a higher order than our own is one that soothes all children, and many writers.

Tags: Children, Life, Order

The minute you start putting words on paper you're eliminating possibilities.

Tags: Paper, Start, Words

You had to feel the swell change. You had to go with the change. He told me that. No eye is on the sparrow but he did tell me that.

Tags: Change, Eye, Tell

Ask anyone committed to Marxist analysis how many angels on the head of a pin, and you will be asked in return to never mind the angels, tell me who controls the production of pins.

Tags: Anyone, Mind, Tell

One of the things that happens to people in grief is they secretly think they're crazy, because they realize they are thinking things that don't make sense.

Tags: Crazy, Sense, Thinking

Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else's dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to the dream.

Tags: Bad, Good, Someone

When I'm working on a book, I constantly retype my own sentences. Every day I go back to page one and just retype what I have. It gets me into a rhythm.

Tags: Book, Rhythm, Working

When we start deceiving ourselves into thinking not that we want something... but that it is a moral imperative that we have it, that is when we join the fashionable madmen.

Tags: Moral, Start, Thinking

Americans are uneasy with their possessions, guilty about power, all of which is difficult for Europeans to perceive because they are themselves so truly materialistic, so versed in the uses of power.

Tags: Difficult, Guilty, Power

Before I'd written movies, I never could do big set-piece scenes with a lot of different speakers - when you've got twelve people around a dinner table talking at cross purposes. I had always been impressed by other people's ability to do that.

Tags: Big, Movies, Talking
Much more quotes by Joan Didion below the page.

I have never started a novel - I mean except the first, when I was starting a novel just to start a novel - I've never written one without rereading Victory. It opens up the possibilities of a novel. It makes it seem worth doing.

Tags: Mean, Start, Victory

I wrote stories from the time I was a little girl, but I didn't want to be a writer. I wanted to be an actress. I didn't realize then that it's the same impulse. It's make-believe. It's performance.

Tags: Girl, Time, Wanted

I've never been keen on open adoption. It doesn't seem to solve the main problem with adoption, which is that somebody feels she was abandoned by someone else.

Tags: Else, Problem, Someone

In Brentwood we had a big safe-deposit box to put manuscripts in if we left town during fire season. It was such a big box that we never bothered to clean it out.

Tags: Big, Fire, Put

It took me a couple of years after I got out of Berkeley before I dared to start writing. That academic mind-set - which was kind of shallow in my case anyway - had begun to fade.

Tags: After, Start, Writing

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.

Tags: Best, Forget, Small

Nonfiction is more personal for me. It's more personal in that it's more direct, and actually it's always been more direct, even when I first started doing pieces.

Tags: Actually, Personal, Started

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.

Tags: Original, Paintings, Put

Once I get over maybe a hundred pages, I won't go back to page one, but I might go back to page fifty-five, or twenty, even. But then every once in a while I feel the need to go to page one again and start rewriting.

Tags: Again, Once, Start

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.

Tags: Share, Useful, Write

Was there ever in anyone's life span a point free in time, devoid of memory, a night when choice was any more than the sum of all the choices gone before?

Tags: Life, Night, Time

Writing fiction is for me a fraught business, an occasion of daily dread for at least the first half of the novel, and sometimes all the way through. The work process is totally different from writing nonfiction. You have to sit down every day and make it up.

Tags: Business, Daily, Work

Yes, but another writer I read in high school who just knocked me out was Theodore Dreiser. I read An American Tragedy all in one weekend and couldn't put it down - I locked myself in my room. Now that was antithetical to every other book I was reading at the time because Dreiser really had no style, but it was powerful.

Tags: Powerful, School, Time

You think you have some stable talent that will show no matter what you're writing, and if it doesn't seem to be getting across to the audience once, you can't imagine that moment when it suddenly will. Gradually, gradually you gain that confidence.

Tags: Confidence, Moment, Writing

The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.

Tags: Accept, Life, Source

To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves - there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.

Tags: Great, Power, Respect

Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.

Tags: Changes, Fast, Life

Was it only by dreaming or writing that I could find out what I thought?

Tags: Dreams, Thought, Writing

Hemingway was really early. I probably started reading him when I was just eleven or twelve. There was just something magnetic to me in the arrangement of those sentences. Because they were so simple - or rather they appeared to be so simple, but they weren't.

Tags: Him, Rather, Simple

Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price.

Tags: Price, Question, Worth

You have to pick the places you don't walk away from.

Tags: Away, Places, Walk

I don't lead a writer's life. And I think that can be a source of suspicion and irritation to some people.

Tags: Lead, Life, Writer

Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.

Tags: Grammar, Piano, Power

We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.

Tags: Forget, Soon, Thought

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.

Tags: Fear, Thinking, Write

I don't think anybody feels like they're a good parent. Or if people think they're good parents, they ought to think again.

Tags: Again, Good, Parents

Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.

Tags: Changes, Life, Ordinary

My own fantasies of what life would be like at 24 tended to the more spectacular.

Tags: Fantasies, Life

Strength is one of those things you're supposed to have. You don't feel that you have it at the time you're going through it.

Tags: Strength, Supposed, Time

The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to their dream.

Tags: Dream, Listening, Writer

Writers are always selling somebody out.

Tags: Selling, Somebody, Writers

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.

Tags: Forever, Image, Place

Call me the author.

Tags: Author, Call

I could talk more directly in a nonfiction voice than I could in fiction.

Tags: Fiction, Talk, Voice

I do have a strong sense of an order in the universe.

Tags: Sense, Strong, Universe

I hadn't thought that I was generally a pack rat, but it turns out I am.

Tags: Pack, Rat, Thought

I lead a very conventional life.

Tags: Lead, Life

I never had much interest in being a child. As a way of being it seemed flat, failed to engage.

Tags: Child, Failed, Interest

I recognize a lot of the things I'm going through. Like, I lose my temper a lot and I become unhinged and kind of hysterical.

Tags: Become, Lose, Temper