I wanted to live in Paris and write nothing but fiction and be perfectly free. I had decided all this had to be settled by the time I was thirty, and so I gave up my job and moved to Paris at twenty-eight. I just held my breath and jumped. I didn’t even look to see if there was water in the pool.

— Mavis Gallant

The most cheerful Mavis Gallant quotes that are life-changing and eye-opening

There are a great many opinions in this world, and a good half of them are professed by people who have never been in trouble.


Like every other form of art, literature is no more and nothing less than a matter of life and death. The only question worth asking about a story — or a poem, or a piece of sculpture, or a new concert hall — is, Is it dead or alive?


Writing is like a love affair: the beginning is the best part.


Against the sustained tick of a watch, fiction takes the measure of a life, a season, a look exchanged, the turning point, desire as brief as a dream, the grief and terror that after childhood we cease to express.


No one is as real to me as people in the novel.

It grows like a living thing. When I realize they do not exist except in my mind I have a feeling of sadness, looking around for them, as if the half-empty cafe were a place I had once come to with friends who had all moved away.


A short story is what you see when you look out of the window.


There is something I keep wanting to say about reading short stories.

I am doing it now, because I many never have another occasion. Stories are not chapters of novels. They should not be read one after another, as if they were meant to follow along. Read one. Shut the book. Read something else. Come back later. Stories can wait.


[My father] had spent his own short time like a priest in charge of a relic, forever expecting the blessed blood to liquefy.


I write every day as a matter of course It is not a burden. It is the way I live.


Success can only be measured in terms of distance traveled.


She and Marie were Montreal girls, not trained to accompany heroes, or to hold out for dreams, but just to be patient.


I still do not know what impels anyone sound of mind to leave dry land and spend a lifetime describing people who do not exist. If it is child's play, an extension of make believe - something one is frequently assured by people who write about writing - how to account for the overriding wish to do that, just that, only that, and consider it as rational an occupation as riding a bicycle over the Alps?


About Mavis Gallant

Quotes 19 sayings
Nationality Canadian
Profession Author
Birthday October 16

All lives are interesting; no one life is more interesting than another. Its fascination depends on how much is revealed, and in what manner.


I believed that if I was to call myself a writer, I should live on writing.

If I could not live on it, even simply, I should destroy every scrap, every trace, every notebook and live some other way.


A writer's life stands in relation to his work as a house does to a garden, related but distinct.


Decide what the rest of your life is to be. Whatever you are now, you might be forever.


... appeals to memory were never perfectly answered.


I began to ration my writing, for fear I would dream through life as my father had done. I was afraid I had inherited a poisoned gene from him, a vocation without a gift.

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