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.

Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.

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

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

Not many people were speaking truth to power in the '80s. I had a really good time doing it - I found it gratifying. It was a joy to have an opportunity to say what you believed. It's challenging to do it in fiction, but I liked writing the novels. I liked writing 'Democracy' particularly.

A lot of the stories I was brought up on had to do with extreme actions - leaving everything behind, crossing the trackless wastes, and in those stories the people who stayed behind and had their settled ways - those people were not the people who got the prize. The prize was California.

You aren't sure if you're making the right decision - about anything, ever.

Character - the willingness to accept responsibility for ones own life - is the source from which self respect springs.

I lead a very conventional life. I don't lead a writer's life. And I think that can be a source of suspicion and irritation to some people. This was more true when I was living in California, when I didn't lead a writer's life at all.

Call me the author.

Do not whine… Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.

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

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

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

I no longer want reminders of what was, what got broken, what got lost, what got wasted.

I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind's door at 4 A.M. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.

Nothing is critic-proof.

Although a novel takes place in the larger world, there's always some drive in it that is entirely personal - even if you don't know it while you're doing it.

The apparent ease of California life is an illusion, and those who believe the illusion real live here in only the most temporary way.

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.

We all survive more than we think we can.

I can remember, when I was in college, irritating deeply somebody I was going out with, because he would ask me what I was thinking and I would say I was thinking nothing. And it was true.

You can throw a novel into focus with one overheard line.

I start a book and I want to make it perfect, want it to turn every color, want it to be the world. Ten pages in, I've already blown it, limited it, made it less, marred it. That's very discouraging. I hate the book at that point.

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.

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.

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

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

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

My mother 'gave teas' the way other mothers breathed. Her own mother 'gave teas.' All of their friends 'gave teas,' each involving butter cookies extruded from a metal press and pastel bonbons ordered from See's.

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

I'm not very interested in people. I recognize it in myself - there is a basic indifference toward people.

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

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.

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

I am always writing to myself.

The truth is, it's easier for me to write than talk... to express the state I'm in at any time.

Writing nonfiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing. 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.

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

I have a theatrical temperament. I'm not interested in the middle road - maybe because everyone's on it. Rationality, reasonableness bewilder me.

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.

Style is character.

I never think people are too careful with me.

I couldn't give away my husband's shoes. I could give away other things, but the shoes - I don't know what it was about the shoes, but a lot of people have mentioned to me that shoes took on more meaning than we generally think they do... their attachment to the ground, I don't know - but that did have a real resonance for me.

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

The arrangement of the words matters, and the arrangement you want can be found in the picture in your mind. The picture dictates the arrangement. The picture dictates whether this will be a sentence with or without clauses, a sentence that ends hard or a dying-fall sentence, long or short, active or passive.

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

To those of us who remained committed mainly to the exploration of moral distinctions and ambiguities, the feminist analysis may have seemed a particularly narrow and cracked determinism.

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