No-Nonsense Quotes by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was best known for her Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Yearling (1939), the story of a boy who adopts an orphaned fawn. The jewel in the crown of her writing career, it won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1939 and was subsequently made into a successful movie.

Early in her career, while attempting to get her fiction published in magazines, Rawlings supporting herself through newspaper work. She honed her craft as a newspaper reporter. And like other authors who started out this way (including Willa Cather, Edna Ferber, and L.M. Montgomery), she longed to take her writing in a more artistic direction. At first, all she collected were rejection slips.

She’s also known for her writings about her adopted home in Cross Creek, Florida, where she bought an orange grove in the late 1920s and lived for many decades.

Fascinated by the people and local culture, she gathered her observations into a memoir, Cross Creek, and a compilation of recipes, Cross Creek Cookery, both published in 1942. You can glean some of her culinary musings in Culinary Wisdom from Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

Here’s a selection of quotes by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings that illustrate her direct, no-nonsense approach to life.

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“Sorrow was like the wind. It came in gusts.”

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“A woman has got to love a bad man once or twice in her life, to be thankful for a good one.”

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“We never run from conditions and circumstances but from ourselves … so that actually we make no escape. But there are times when it doesn’t hurt to yield a bit, as long as we are not deceiving ourselves too greatly.”

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“I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to.”

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“Now he understood. This was death. Death was a silence that gave back no answer.” (The Yearling, 1938)

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“The wild animals seemed less predatory to him than people he had known.” (The Yearling, 1938)

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“She drew gallantry from men as the sun drew water. Her pertness enchanted them. Young men went away from her with a feeling of bravado. Old men were enslaved by her silver curls. Something about her was forever female and made all men virile.” (The Yearling, 1938)

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“Women always worry about the things that men forget; men always worry about the things women remember.”

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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings 1939

 A Talk with Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (1941)
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“If there can be such a thing as instinctual memory, the consciousness of land and water must lie deeper in the core of us than any knowledge of our fellow beings. We were bred of the earth before we were born of our mothers. Once born, we can live without our mothers or our fathers or any other kin or friend, or even human love.

We cannot live without the earth or apart from it, and something is shriveled in mans heart when he turns away from it and concerns himself only with the affairs of men.” (Cross Creek, 1942)

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“Madness is only a variety of mental nonconformity and we are all individualists here.” (Cross Creek, 1942)

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“‘Good’ is what helps us or at least does not hinder. ‘Evil’ is whatever harms us or interferes with us, according to our own selfish standards.” (Cross Creek, 1942)

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“Sift each of us through the great sieve of circumstance and you have a residue, great or small as the case may be, that is the man or the woman.” (Cross Creek, 1942)

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“A woman never forgets the men she could have had; a man, the women he couldn’t.”

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“He who tries to forget a woman, never loved her.”

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The yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings page on Amazon
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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings quotes on the writing life

“I get as much satisfaction from preparing a perfect dinner for a few good friends as from turning out a perfect paragraph in my writing.”

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“I feel that I have no pretensions to artistry, that I have my bally nerve ever to sit down to the typewriter again.”

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“Writing is agony. I stay at my typewriter for eight hours every day when I’m working and keep as free as possible from all distractions for the rest of the day. I aim to do six pages a day but I’m satisfied with three. Often there are only a few lines to show.”

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“I tried to write what I thought they [the popular magazines] would be most likely to buy and all that brought me was rejection slips. Then in 1928 I had an opportunity to buy an orange grove in Florida and I bought it, left the newspaper and settled down to give all my time to fiction. Still the stories didn’t sell so I gave up.

I thought the best thing might be to write poetry—that would satisfy the urge to create and would bother no one . . . But then I thought — just one more. And I wrote a story that seemed far from ‘commercial,’ that—it seemed to me—no editor would want to buy but that had meaning for me. It sold like a shot and I’ve had no trouble selling since, though I never have tried to write ‘commercially.’”

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“I have no free swing in what I write, no little miracles. I let my novels mature for several years, know almost exactly what I want to do in them and slowly do it.”

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“A queer thing happens to me whenever I am all through with one piece of work, and I have wondered if it was common to all writers. Before I go to work on something else, I drop into the most terrific despair. It has always been so … Then when the new work takes hold of my mind, nothing exists but the necessity for working it out.”

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“I make the first draft as perfect as I can and do comparatively little rewriting because what I toilsomely put on paper is the best that I can do. For me there is no improving it. The phrase, the line, the paragraph–they never are quite right, as it seems to me, but I keep plugging, getting them as near right as is possible for me.”

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Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

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