The wind shows us how close to the edge we are.— Joan Didion
The most killer Joan Didion quotes to get the best of your day
The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs.
To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self.
We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
We tell ourselves stories in order to live.
We are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not.
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.
Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.
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 4am of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.
And I have learned now to live with it, learned when to expect it, how to outwit it, even how to regard it, when it does come, as more friend than lodger. We have reached a certain understanding, my migraine and I.
The fear is for what is still to be lost.
Do not whine... Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.
Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having has a price.
Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.
Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.
That no one dies of migraine seems, to someone deep into an attack, an ambiguous blessing.
Of course great hotels have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the particular societies they service.
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.
Writers are always selling somebody out.
What's so hard about that first sentence is that you're stuck with it.
Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you've laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.
Grammar is a piano I play by ear.
Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write.
My writing is a process of rewriting, of going back and changing and filling in.
in the rewriting process you discover what's going on, and you go back and bring it up to that point.
A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.
Writing nonfiction is more like sculpture, a matter of shaping the research into the finished thing.
Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
we are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. as we were. as we are no longer. as we will one day not be at all.
[O]ne of the mixed blessings of being twenty and twenty-one and even twenty-three is the conviction that nothing like this, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, has ever happened before.
To shift the structure of a sentence alters the meaning of that sentence, as definitely and inflexibly as the position of a camera alters the meaning of the object photographed.
On the August night in 1933 when General Gerardo Machado, then president of Cuba, flew out of Havana into exile, he took with him five revolvers, seven bags of gold, and five friends, still in their pajamas.
Anything worth having has its price.
I know something about dread myself, and appreciate the elaborate systems with which some people fill the void, appreciate all the opiates of the people, whether they are as accessible as alcohol and heroin and promiscuity or as hard to come by as faith in God or History.
Grief, when it comes, is nothing we expect it to be.
Grief has no distance. Grief comes in waves, paroxysms, sudden apprehensions that weaken the knees and blind the eyes and obliterate the dailiness of life.
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?
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 minute you start putting words on paper you're eliminating possibilities.
Innocence ends when one is stripped of the delusion that one likes oneself.
The fancy that extraterrestrial life is by definition of a higher order than our own is one that soothes all children, and many writers.
Had my credentials been in order I would never have become a writer.
Had I been blessed with even limited access to my own mind there would have been no reason to write. 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.
I wanted to be an oceanographer, actually.
It's a way of going underwater. I've always been interested in how deep it was, you know.
any compulsion tries to justify itself.
Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.
My first notebook was a Big Five tablet, given to me [at age five] by my mother with the sensible suggestion that I stop whining and learn to amuse myself by writing down my thoughts.
To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything: the ability to discriminate, to love and to remain indifferent. To lack it is to be locked within oneself, paradoxically incapable of either love or indifference.
To have that sense of one's intrinsic worth which constitutes self-respect is potentially to have everything.
Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.
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.
We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images.
Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true. The tension broke that day. The paranoia was fulfilled.
California is a place in which a boom mentality and a sense of Chekhovian loss meet in uneasy suspension; in which the mind is troubled by some buried but ineradicable suspicion that things better work here, because here, beneath the immense bleached sky,is where we run out of continent.