Grace Paley Quotes on Reading, Writing, and Living

Grace Paley

Grace Paley‘s literary career encompassed writing about the experiences of women, Jewish life, and teaching at various universities. She was also a poet and received multiple honors for her artistic talent despite not having a college degree. Her work involving political matters involved the founding of the Jewish Women’s Committee to End the Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and encompass anti-racism, anti-militarism and anti-sexism. Here are some of Grace Paley’s quotes on reading, writing, and living:

“There is a long time in me between knowing and telling.”

“The only thing you should have to do is find work you love to do. And I can’t imagine living without having loved a person. A man, in my case. It could be a woman, but whatever.”

“You become a writer because you need to become a writer — nothing else.”

“Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the world.”

“The only recognizable feature of hope is action.”

“That heartbreaking moment when you finish an amazing book, and you are forced to return to reality.”

“Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write.”

“Everyone, real or invented, deserves the open destiny of life.”

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“The wrong word is like a lie jammed inside the story.”

“There isn’t a story written that isn’t about blood and money. People and their relationship to each other is the blood, the family. And how they live, the money of it.”

“I checked out the two Edith Wharton books I had just returned because I’d read them so long ago and they are more apropos now than ever. They were The House of Mirth and The Children, which is about how life in the United States in New York changed in twenty-seven years fifty years ago.”

“Don’t you wish you could rise powerfully above your time and name? I’m sure we all try, but here we are, always slipping and falling down into them, speaking their narrow language, though the subject, which is how to save the world — and quickly — is immense.” (“The Story Hearer” )

“Writers often write about what they want to read or haven’t seen written  … Still, there’s always that first storytelling impulse: I want to tell you something …” (Paris Review interviews)

“It’s helpful to have money. I don’t think writers have to suffer to starve to death. One of the first things I tell my classes is, If you want to write, keep a low overhead. If you want to live expansively, you’re going to be in trouble because then you have to start thinking very hard about whom you’re writing to, who your audience is, who the editor thinks your audience is, who he wants your audience to be.” (Paris Review interviews)

“I know some people say women writers should not have children. Of course, it was worse for them back then. Years ago just to do the kids’ wash could take the whole day, so if you were poor it was impossible to write. If you were rich, you could hire a maid; it was possible if you were George Sand. But even now we need help. My kids were in day care from the time they were three years old.” (Paris Review interviews)

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