39 Inspiring Joan Didion Quotes You Must Read Now

Looking for the best and inspirational Joan Didion quotes?

Joan Didion was an American writer who started her career as a journalist. She wrote several books, but her work mainly focused on political and social issues. After she wrote The White Album, she went into a more personal phase of her life and started writing about family events and memories.

Didion is most famous for her essays published in places like The New York Review of Books or The New Yorker. Her essays dealt with subjects such as the death of John F. Kennedy Jr. or the death of Princess Diana.

Her writing career began in 1968 with Slouching Towards Bethlehem, a combination of memoir and socio-political commentary. She has published novels such as Play It As It Lays (1970) and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996). Didion has been praised for her sophisticated style, honesty with detail, and willingness to experiment with form. Her nonfiction works have become standard reading for many writers.

Here are some of her most inspiring quotes that never fail to open your eyes and make you a better person.

39 Inspirational Joan Didion Quotes

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

“The future always looks good in the golden land, because no one remembers the past.”

“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”

“Writers are always selling somebody out.”

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

“The ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language.”

“Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearranges of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss.”

“You have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.”

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

“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.”

“When we talk about mortality we are talking about our children.”

“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.”

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

“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”

“Marriage is memory, marriage is time. Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time.”

“I don’t think anybody feels like they’re a good parent. Or if people think they’re good parents, they ought to think again.”

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”

“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.”

“To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves there lies the great, the singular power of self-respect. Without it, one eventually discovers the final turn of the screw: one runs away to find oneself and finds no one at home.”

“Grammar is a piano I play by ear. All I know about grammar is its power.”

“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us. I also know that if we are to live ourselves there comes a point at which we must relinquish the dead, let them go, keep them dead.”

“Self-respect is a question of recognizing that anything worth having, has a price.”

“We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”

“Water is important to people who do not have it, and the same is true of control.”

 “I closed the box and put it in a closet. There is no real way to deal with everything we lose.”

“A single person is missing for you, and the whole world is empty.”

“Quite often you want to tell somebody your dream, your nightmare. Well, nobody wants to hear about someone else’s dream, good or bad; nobody wants to walk around with it. The writer is always tricking the reader into listening to their dream.”

“Innocence ends when we are stripped of the delusion one likes oneself.”

“I am what I am. To look for reasons is beside the point.”

“To free us from the expectations of others, to give us back to ourselves–there lies the great, singular power of self-respect.”

“Our favorite people and our favorite stories become so not by any inherent virtue, but because they illustrate something deep in the grain, something unadmitted.”

“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.”

“Memory fades, memory adjusts, memory conforms to what we think we remember.”

“My only advantage as a reporter is that I am so physically small, so temperamentally unobtrustive, and so neurotically inarticulate that people tend to forget that my presence runs counter to their best interests. And it always does. That is one last thing to remember: writers are always selling somebody out.”

“The impulse to write things down is a particularly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself.”

“As time goes by I think that men who were unable to make choices were more right than those who made them. Because there are no clean choices.”

“As it happens I am still committed to the idea that the ability to think for one’s self depends upon one’s mastery of the language, and I am not optimistic about children who will settle for saying, to indicate that their mother and father do not live together, that they come from ‘a broken home.”

“I’m just telling you to live in [the world.] 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.”

“I have come to see, we knew not the smallest fraction of what there was to know.”

“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.”

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