Top 81 Most Inspiring Margaret Atwood Quotes

“You can’t help what you feel, but you can help how you behave”

“If you’re put on a pedestal, you’re supposed to behave yourself like a pedestal type of person. Pedestals actually have a limited circumference. Not much room to move around.”

“I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race – and that we are all members of it.”

“All writers learn from the dead. As long as you continue to write, you continue to explore the work of writers who have preceded you; you also feel judged and held to account by them.”

“All stories are about wolves. All worth repeating, that is. Anything else is sentimental drivel…”

“You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan we come with.”

“Knowing was a temptation. What you don’t know won’t tempt you.”

“People use technology only to mean digital technology. Technology is actually everything we make.”

“When you’re writing a novel, you don’t want the reader to come out of it voting yes or no to some question. Life is more complicated than that. Reality simply consists of different points of view.”

“Writing is alone, but I don’t think it’s lonely. Ask any writer if they feel lonely when they’re writing their book, and I think they’ll say no.”

“The moment of betrayal is the worst, the moment when you know beyond any doubt that you’ve been betrayed: that some other human being has wished you that much evil”

“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”

“Beginnings are sudden, but also insidious. They creep up on you sideways, they keep to the shadows, they lurk unrecognized. Then, later, they spring.”

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.”

“When things are really dismal, you can laugh, or you can cave in completely.”

“But who can remember pain, once it’s over? All that remains of it is a shadow, not in the mind even, in the flesh. Pain marks you, but too deep to see. Out of sight, out of mind.”

“All writers are double, for the simple reason that you can never actually meet the author of the book you have just read. Too much time has elapsed between composition and publication, and the person who wrote the book is now a different person.”

“Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”

“Reading and writing are connected. I learned to read very early so I could read the comics, which I then started to draw.”

“A reader can never tell if it’s a real thimble or an imaginary thimble, because by the time you’re reading it, they’re the same. It’s a thimble. It’s in the book.”

“Better never means better for everyone… It always means worse, for some.”

“All writers feel struck by the limitations of language. All serious writers.”

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.”

“You fit into me like a hook into an eye a fish hook an open eye”

“The myth that everyone once read great literature is just a myth.”

“Knowing too much about other people puts you in their power, they have a claim on you, you are forced to understand their reasons for doing things and then you are weakened.”

“Optimism means better than reality; pessimism means worse than reality. I’m a realist.”

“As soon as you have a language that has a past tense and a future tense you’re going to say, ‘Where did we come from, what happens next?’ The ability to remember the past helps us plan the future.”

“The small details of life often hide a great significance.”

“Reading is one of the most individual things that happens. So every reader is going to read a piece in a slightly different way, sometimes a radically different way.”

“A word after a word after a word is power.”

“A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there’s less of you.”

“Reality simply consists of different points of view.”

“The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read. Not by any other person, and not even by yourself at some later date. Otherwise you begin excusing yourself. You must see the writing as emerging like a long scroll of ink from the index finger of your right hand; you must see your left hand erasing it.”

“Falling in love, we said; I fell for him. We were falling women. We believed in it, this downward motion: so lovely, like flying, and yet at the same time so dire, so extreme, so unlikely.”

“Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

“Nothing makes me more nervous than people who say, ‘It can’t happen here.’ Anything can happen anywhere, given the right circumstances.”

“Nolite te bastardes carborundorum. Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

“Sometimes reactions can be quite surprising: readers like things that you, the author, feel you’ve barely gotten away with; or they dislike one of the parts you secretly think is one of your little gems.”

“All you have to do, I tell myself, is keep your mouth shut and look stupid. It shouldn’t be that hard.”

“The best way of keeping a secret is to pretend there isn’t one.”

“Any novel is hopeful in that it presupposes a reader. It is, actually, a hopeful act just to write anything, really, because you’re assuming that someone will be around to [read] it.”

“I’m not sure I really am a Humanist. I describe myself as a rigorous agnostic, which means that you cannot declare as a matter of material truth something that is in fact a matter of spiritual belief.”

“Myths can’t be translated as they did in their ancient soil. We can only find our own meaning in our own time.”

“In the end, we all become stories.”

“I tend to feel if people say they’re going to do something, they will, if given the chance.”

“You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.”

“­Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.”

“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for when they scrawl their names in the snow.”

“Nobody dies from the lack of sex. It’s lack of love we die from.”

“Never pray for justice, because you might get some.”

“Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.”

“We were the people who were not in the papers. We lived in the blank white spaces at the edges of print. It gave us more freedom. We lived in the gaps between the stories.”

“If you’re waiting for the perfect moment, you’ll never write a thing because it will never arrive. I have no routine. I have no foolproof anything. There’s nothing foolproof.”

“Our heaven is their hell, said God. I like a balanced universe.”

“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”

“If I waited for perfection… I would never write a word.”

“Stupidity is the same as evil if you judge by the results.”

“You quickly find, when you are a hand-reader as I am, that nothing interests people so much as themselves.”

“Paper isn’t important. It’s the words on them that are important.”

“When we think of the past it’s the beautiful things we pick out. We want to believe it was all like that.”

“We thought we had such problems. How were we to know we were happy?”

“Writers and books are cheap dates, especially when you compare the cost of a book with a ticket to the opera – or an NHL game.”

“War is what happens when language fails.”

“As an artist your first loyalty is to your art. Unless this is the case, you’re going to be a second-rate artist.”

“Popular art is the dream of society; it does not examine itself.”

“Everyone thinks writers must know more about the inside of the human head, but that’s wrong. They know less, that’s why they write. Trying to find out what everyone else takes for granted.”

“We do not know how we’d behave. But a lot of people facing fascism didn’t become fascists. I don’t happen to believe that we are all monsters.”

“Another belief of mine: that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.”

“There is good and mediocre writing within every genre.”

“Possibly, then, writing has to do with darkness, and a desire or perhaps a compulsion to enter it, and, with luck, to illuminate it, and to bring something back out to the light.”

“Forgiving men is so much easier than forgiving women.”

“Hatred would have been easier. With hatred, I would have known what to do. Hatred is clear, metallic, one-handed, unwavering; unlike love.”

“There’s the story, then there’s the real story, then there’s the story of how the story came to be told. Then there’s what you leave out of the story. Which is part of the story too.”

“You can forget who you are if you’re alone too much.”

“You can think clearly only with your clothes on.”

“I’ve never understood why people consider youth a time of freedom and joy. It’s probably because they have forgotten their own.”

“Why does the mind do such things? Turn on us, rend us, dig the claws in. If you get hungry enough, they say, you start eating your own heart. Maybe it’s much the same.”

“When you are in the middle of a story it isn’t a story at all, but only a confusion; a dark roaring, a blindness, a wreckage of shattered glass and splintered wood; like a house in a whirlwind, or else a boat crushed by the icebergs or swept over the rapids, and all aboard powerless to stop it. It’s only afterwards that it becomes anything like a story at all. When you are telling it, to yourself or to someone else.”

“The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.”

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