The thing that is both known and unknown, the most unknown and the best unknown, this is what we are looking for when we write. We go toward the best known unknown thing, where knowing and not knowing touch, where we hope we will know what is unknown. Where we hope we will not be afraid of understanding the incomprehensible, facing the invisible, hearing the inaudible, thinking the unthinkable, which is of course: thinking.
—THREE STEPS ON THE LADDER OF WRITING
“An honorable human relationship – that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word “love” – is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other.
It is important to do this because it breaks down human self-delusion and isolation.
It is important to do this because in doing so we do justice to our own complexity.
It is important to do this because we can count on so few people to go that hard way with us.”
—― Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silence: Selected Prose, 1966-1978
One writes out of one thing only — one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.
Writing is not out there, it does not happen out there, it does not come from outside. On the contrary it comes from deep within.
—Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing
A tough life needs tough language – and that’s what poetry is. That’s what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.
—Jeannette Winterson Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?
There is so little to remember of anyone - an anecdote, a conversation at a table. But every memory is turned over and over again, every word, however chance, written in the heart in the hope that memory will fulfill itself, and become flesh, and that the wanderers will find a way home, and the perished, whose lack we always feel, will step through the door finally and stroke our hair with dreaming habitual fondness not having meant to keep us waiting long.
…the composition of each epoch depends upon the way the frequented roads are frequented, people remain the same, the way their roads are frequented is what changes from one century to another….