25 Joan Didion Quotes That Prove She Is The Literary Patron Saint For Smart Girls

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1. “I have already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.”

On Keeping A Notebook


2. “We all survive more than we think we can.”

Blue Nights


3. “There’s a point when you go with what you’ve got. Or you don’t go.”


4. “The willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life is the source from which self-respect springs.”


5. “I can remember, when I was in college, irritating deeply somebody I was going out with, because he would ask me what I was thinking and I would say I was thinking nothing. And it was true.”


6. “We’re going to do things together, read things, go places, do things. We’re going to have a beautiful life.”

Run River


7. “Read, learn, work it up, go to the literature. Information is control.”

The Year of Magical Thinking


8. “Life changes fast. Life changes in the instant. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.”

The Year of Magical Thinking


9. “Do not whine… Do not complain. Work harder. Spend more time alone.”

Blue Nights


10. “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.”

Why I Write


11. “[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.”

Slouching Towards Bethlehem


12. “Time is the school in which we learn.”


13. “In theory momentos serve to bring back the moment. In fact they serve only to make clear how inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here. How inadequately I appreciated the moment when it was here is something else I could never afford to see.”

Blue Nights


14. “Why do you always have to be right. Why do you always have to have the last word. For once in your life just let it go.”

The Year of Magical Thinking


15. “When I am near the end of a book, I have to sleep in the same room with it.”


16. “We look for the sermon in the suicide, for the social or moral lesson in the murder of five. We interpret what we see, select the most workable of the multiple choices. We live entirely, especially if we are writers, by the imposition of a narrative line upon disparate images, by the ‘ideas’ with which we have learned to freeze the shifting phantasmagoria which is our actual experience.”

The White Album


17. “Certain places seem to exist mainly because someone has written about them.”

The White Album


18. “To cure jealousy is to see it for what it is, a dissatisfaction with self.”


19. “I’m not telling you to make the world better, because I don’t think that progress is necessarily part of the package. I’m just telling you to live in it. Not just to endure it, not just to suffer it, not just to pass through it, but to live in it. To look at it. To try to get the picture. To live recklessly. To take chances. To make your own work and take pride in it. To seize the moment.”


20. “We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget.”

On Keeping A Notebook


21. “I have a theatrical temperament. I’m not interested in the middle road—maybe because everyone’s on it. Rationality, reasonableness bewilder me.”


22. “Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up.”

On Keeping A Notebook


23. “It’s not you. It’s anyone. Sometimes I don’t want anyone around. Some afternoons I lie on my bed and the light comes through the shutters on the floor and I think I never want to leave my own room.”

Run River


24. “I know what the frailty is, I know what fear is. The fear is not for what is lost. The fear is for what is still to be lost.”

Blue Nights


25. “We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

The White Album TC mark

thumbnail image – Joan Didion

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