We live in a culture that wants to put a redemptive face on everything, so anger doesn't sit well with any of us. But I think women's anger sits less well than anything else.

As a reader since very early, I have found myself drawn to rants.

We are all unappealing. It is just a matter of how much we let people see it.

I feel as though there's a lot invested in my background in being an outsider.

At university, my generation were ready to fight, but we didn't really have anything to fight for.

I was in my senior year of high school when I read 'Notes From Underground' by Dostoyevsky, and it was an exhilarating discovery. I hadn't known up until that moment that fiction could be like that. Fiction could say these things, could be unseemly, could be unsettling and distressing in that particular way, that immediate and urgent way.

The way I saw the world as a child was not wrong. And it's okay to see the world that way. If it doesn't hurt anybody.

Especially since having children, a lot of the time if you ask me, 'Have you read that book?' the answer would be 'not personally.'

Writing with kids is an adventure. It seems like someone always has the flu or pink-eye. I mean, you don't even have to be in direct contact with anyone to get pink-eye. But for parents who write, flexibility becomes essential, and as long as I have a pad of paper and a pen, I can write anywhere. Starbucks is fine.

I wish I were a really good photographer.

We're all living in some state of illusion, even if modestly.

I feel that I have an impractical and deleterious snobbery about the relation of literature to the market. I thought, 'I've become the kind of crap you buy at airports!' It was exciting, but it was not a fantasy I'd ever had.

The fictional narratives that television, film, and the news provide for girls and young women are appalling.

We think that we know people from this constellation of points: 'I know that story. I know that girl. I've heard that story a thousand times.' But actually, you never know that story.

Years ago, I worked in a newspaper office, and there were men that would have fits of temper, and it was just accepted that that's who they were, and everyone would laugh about it, but if a woman got upset or angry, something wasn't right: she was 'hysterical' or 'a little unhinged.' It didn't have the same sort of connotation at all.

I have always been interested in that relationship between what happens in our head and what happens in the world.

In midlife, I feel that my tendency to acquire books is rather like someone smoking two packs a day: it's a terrible vice that I wish I could shuck.

I don't trust people who are likable.

Obstruction can be caused by so many factors - perfectionism, distraction, faltering confidence, external demands and pressures. At some point, of course, you've got to push through it all if you're to write, and if you don't, or can't, you're sunk.

In a globalised world, so many of us move around so much. You lose things, but you also gain things - or hope to gain them.

I still believe on some level that at the end, somebody will say, 'You get an A-minus for your life.' And it's not true. It's not true.

Henry James and Edith Wharton are huge for me because they gave me a way to understand America while still respecting the European backgrounds of my relatives.

If you live in a family or have five roommates, there's some sort of reality check, but when you live alone, there's a lot more leeway for your fantasy life to be more and more a part of your everyday life.

If I look at my make-up, Canada is a huge part of what I am.

If you took my reading and writing out of my head, I don't know who I would be.

I always feel as though I'm not quite Canadian enough for everybody.

For many of us, we set out thinking there will be time in the future, and then suddenly we find ourselves at a moment when we have to acknowledge that the future isn't infinite.

For those of us whose thoughts digress; for whom unexpected juxtapositions are exhilarating rather than tiresome; who aim, if always inadequately, to convey life's experience in some semblance of its complexity - for such writers, the semi-colon is invaluable.

You lose something in not being rooted, but you gain something by seeing the world differently. It's both a loss and a gift.

Girls, in particular, use storytelling to establish hierarchies, a pecking order. There is a sort of jockeying of who is in charge of shared history.

If you know what you're doing, it's not interesting. It has to be a challenge; it has to seem impossible and urgent to do it. And then you do it.

In making up stories, as in reading stories, I could create a contained world in which an experience is shared in its entirety.

The feeling I had several times in youth, when lying in a field staring up at the night sky, that I might fall into the infinite void - for people like me, this idea mostly provokes anxiety.

This sense in which so much of who we are doesn't break the surface - our knowability to one another is always something I like to explore.

I have said it somewhere - our literary lived lives are as important as our literally lived lives.

When you're a kid, and someone is your best friend, you almost don't need words. It's almost like puppies in a - frolicking in a garden or something. You don't articulate stuff. You just live it.

At the end of the day, what would be a Canadian sensibility? Is it Michael Ondaatje? Alice Munro? Is Margaret Atwood more Canadian than Neil Bissoondath?

If people like something you've done - or don't like it - this shouldn't determine what you write or how you write it. Those are two separate things entirely: your work and the world's response to it.

Things we write down are the fragments shored against our ruins. They outlast us, these scraps of words on paper. Like the detritus from the tsunami washing up on the other side of the ocean, writing is what can be salvaged.

If you're reading to find friends, you're in deep trouble.

I had a memory span about as long as the lines in a school play.

I remember going to a son's friend's bar mitzvah, and the text that he chose to explicate was right at the beginning of Genesis. It was not about a fall from grace or a fall from perfection; it was about an awakening into consciousness, which is what it means to be human.

I always say to my students, 'If you can do anything other than writing and be happy, then you should.'

Rushing around can be a pointless diversion from actually living your life.

An abiding preoccupation for me is how much of our lives are invisible and unknown by other people, like the Chekhov story 'The Lady With the Little Dog.'

I love my books, and with all their dog-ears and under-linings they are irreplaceable, but I sometimes wish they'd just vanish.

Because we moved so much, I was always having to adapt and work out the lay of the land. So I felt envious of those who did not have to try.

I'm a big believer in the complex realities of young people's lives.

Yes, writing is essential to me. It's my way of living in the world.