Margaret Atwood quotes

  • Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Men #Laughing

  • Kafka thought his stories were hilarious. We don't necessarily have that reaction to them, but he certainly laughed his head off every time he read them out loud.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Stories #Reactions #Loud

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Race #People #Realizing

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Reading #Different #Pieces

  • You can only be jealous of someone who has something you think you ought to have yourself.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Jealousy #Jealous #Thinking

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Believe #People #Monsters

  • Another belief of mine; that everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Inspirational #Growing Up #Age

  • I am nervous about dogmas of any kind, whether they be religious, political, or anti-religious. Too many heads have rolled because of them.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Religious #Political #Dogma

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

    #Hatred #Easier #Clear

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Spiritual #Mean #Matter

  • In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Nature #Spring #Garden

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Lonely #Book #Writing

  • A word after a word after a word is power.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Inspirational #Life #Reading

  • I have never had any problems with editors who wanted me to change my methods or point of view. I pay a lot of attention to editors, but in a different way. They sometimes catch mistakes and help with the order of poems in a book. I do not underestimate them! Indeed, I have been one myself.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Mistake #Book #Views

  • Reading and writing, like everything else, improve with practice. And, of course, if there are no young readers and writers, there will shortly be no older ones. Literacy will be dead, and democracy - which many believe goes hand in hand with it - will be dead as well.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Reading #Believe #Writing

  • The fabric of democracy is always fragile everywhere because it depends on the will of citizens to protect it, and when they become scared, when it becomes dangerous for them to defend it, it can go very quickly.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Democracy #Citizens #Fabric

  • What fabrications they are, mothers. Scarecrows, wax dolls for us to stick pins into, crude diagrams. We deny them an existence of their own, we make them up to suit ourselves -- our own hungers, our own wishes, our own deficiencies.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Mother #Wish #Suits

  • I don't believe in a perfect world. I don't believe it's achievable, and I believe the people who try to achieve it usually end up turning it into something like Cambodia or something very similar because purity tests set in. Are you ideologically pure enough to be allowed to live? Well, it turns out that very few people are, so you end up with a big powerful struggle and a mass killing scene.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Powerful #Believe #Struggle

  • A divorce is like an amputation: you survive it, but there's less of you.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Broken Heart #Lost Love #Divorce

  • There's more private security in the United States than there are publicly funded forces, like police. What you don't want is a meld of government and commerce - you really want to keep those two things separate - because once you have that meld, you've got megacorruption, and you have no third force to whom you can say this stuff is poisoning our kids.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Kids #Government #Two

  • If I love you, is that a fact or a weapon?
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Love You #Weapons #Facts

  • We're facing growing climate change, more floods, more droughts, more crisis on a planetary level, and the systems we put in place in the twentieth century are just not going to work. We've run out of stuff. Our big problems are going to be energy supplies and food supplies. This is not a right-left issue. It's a people issue, and it cuts across all our categories.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Running #Cutting #Issues

  • Science fiction is filled with Martians and space travel to other planets, and things like that.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Space #Fiction #Planets

  • Science fiction, to me, has not only things that wouldn't happen, but other planets.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Fiction #Science Fiction #Planets

  • Water does not resist. Water flows. When you plunge your hand into it, all you feel is a caress. Water is not a solid wall, it will not stop you. But water always goes where it wants to go, and nothing in the end can stand against it. Water is patient. Dripping water wears away a stone. Remember that, my child. Remember you are half water. If you can't go through an obstacle, go around it. Water does.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Patience #Children #Wall

  • ­Do back exercises. Pain is distracting.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Pain #Writing #Exercise

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Thinking #Littles #Sometimes

  • Little girls are cute and small only to adults. To one another they are not cute. They are life-sized.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Cute #Family #Girl

  • There are novels that end well, but in between there are human beings acting like human beings. And human beings are not perfect. All of the motives a human being may have, which are mixed, that's the novelists' materials. That's where they have to go. And a lot of that just isn't pretty. We like to think of ourselves as really, really good people. But look in the mirror. Really look. Look at your own mixed motives. And then multiply that.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Thinking #Mirrors #People

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Writing #Thinking #Trying

  • Better never means better for everyone... It always means worse, for some.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Change #Mean

  • I read for pleasure and that is the moment I learn the most.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Inspiring #Book #Reading

  • I exist in two places, here and where you are.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Two #Where You Are

  • I would like to be the air that inhabits you for a moment only. I would like to be that unnoticed and that necessary.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Love #Sleep #Air

  • A voice is a human gift; it should be cherished and used, to utter fully human speech as possible. Powerlessness and silence go together.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Bad Ass #Voice #Silence

  • War is what happens when language fails.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #War #Empowering #Language

  • Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Long #People #Used

  • Forgiving men is so much easier than forgiving women.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Forgiveness #Women #Forgiving

  • The true story is vicious and multiple and untrue after all. Why do you need it? Don’t ever ask for the true story.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Needs #Stories #Vicious

  • If I waited for perfection... I would never write a word.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Writing #Perfect #Perfection

  • Screw poetry, it’s you I want, your taste, rain on you, mouth on your skin.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Rain #Skins #Mouths

  • If it's a story I'm telling, then I have control over the ending... But if it's a story, even in my head, I must be telling it to someone. You don't tell a story only to yourself. There's always someone else. Even when there is no one.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Stories

  • If you knew what was going to happen, if you knew everything that was going to happen next—if you knew in advance the consequences of your own actions—you'd be doomed. You'd be ruined as God. You'd be a stone. You'd never eat or drink or laugh or get out of bed in the morning. You'd never love anyone, ever again. You'd never dare to.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Morning #Women #Knowledge

  • Oppression involves a failure of the imagination: the failure to imagine the full humanity of other human beings.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Diversity #Imagination #Humanity

  • And she finds it difficult to believe—that a person would love her even when she isn't trying. Trying to figure out what other people need, trying to be worthy.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Believe #People #Trying

  • Touch comes before sight, before speech. It is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Philosophy #Medicine #Sight

  • I have been known to buy e-versions of my books because I was in a hotel room and I needed one right away to look up something in it; very handy for that - you can have it just the next minute; you can press the button and just have it.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Book #Rooms #Next

  • More of your brain is involved when reading than it is when you watch television... because you are supplying just about everything... you're a creator.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Reading #Creativity #Brain

  • You need a certain amount of nerve to be a writer, an almost physical nerve, the kind you need to walk a log across a river.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Rivers #Needs #Nerves

  • Love's never a fair trade.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Love #Trade #Fair Trade

  • Our generation in the west was lucky: we had readymade gateways. We had books, paper, teachers, schools and libraries. But many in the world lack these luxuries. How do you practice without such tryout venues?
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Teacher #Book #School

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Writing #Perfect #Waiting

  • Our heaven is their hell, said God. I like a balanced universe.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Heaven #Balance #Hell

  • God is not the voice in the whirlwind, God is the whirlwind.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Voice #Whirlwind

  • Potential has a shelf life.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Shelves #Shelf Life

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Life #Heart #Mind

  • Writing poetry is a state of free float.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Writing #Poetry #States

  • While he writes, I feel as if he is drawing me; or not drawing me, drawing on me - drawing on my skin - not with the pencil he is using, but with an old-fashioned goose pen, and not with the quill end but with the feather end. As if hundreds of butterflies have settled all over my face, and are softly opening and closing their wings.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Butterfly #Writing #Wings

  • The trickle-down theory of economics has it that it's good for rich people to get even richer because some of their wealth will trickle own, through their no doubt lavish spending, upon those who stand below them on the economic ladder. Notice that the metaphor is not that of a gushing waterfall but of a leaking tap: even the most optimistic endorsers of this concept do not picture very much real flow, as their language reveals" pg. 102.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Real #Optimistic #People

  • You can think clearly only with your clothes on.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Inspiring #Thinking #Clothes

  • What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed up against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, criscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Wall #Two #Hair

  • Time has not stood still. It has washed over me, washed me away, as if I'm nothing more than a woman of sand, left by a careless child too near the water.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Time #Children #Water

  • Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Time #Space #Lines

  • If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Trials

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Dark #Glasses #Confusion

  • I see that there will be no end to imperfection, or to doing things the wrong way. Even if you grow up, no matter how hard you scrub, whatever you do, there will always be some other stain or spot on your face or stupid act, somebody frowning.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Growing Up #Stupid #Imperfection

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Real #Stories

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Pain #Sight #Mind

  • We yearned for the future. How did we learn it, that talent for insatiability?
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Talent

  • Good writing takes place at intersections, at what you might call knots, at places where the society is snarled or knotted up.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Writing #Might #Knots

  • There were a lot of gods. Gods always come in handy, they justify almost anything.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Handy #Justify

  • Farewells can be shattering, but returns are surely worse. Solid flesh can never live up to the bright shadow cast by its absence. Time and distance blur the edges; then suddenly the beloved has arrived, and it's noon with its merciless light, and every spot and pore and wrinkle and bristle stands clear.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Life #Distance #Farewell

  • The answers you get from literature depend on the questions you pose.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Reality #Answers #Literature

  • When you're young, you think everything you do is disposable. You move from now to now, crumpling time up in your hands, tossing it away. You're your own speeding car. You think you can get rid of things, and people too—leave them behind. You don't yet know about the habit they have, of coming back. Time in dreams is frozen. You can never get away from where you've been.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Dream #Moving #Thinking

  • We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Inspirational #Life #Powerful

  • Which of us can resist the temptation of being thought indispensable?
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Temptation #Indispensable

  • If you get hungry enough, they say, you start eating your own heart.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Heart #Eating #Hungry

  • And yet it disturbs me to learn I have hurt someone unintentionally. I want all my hurts to be intentional.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Hurt #Want #Hurts Someone

  • Heroes need monsters to establish their heroic credentials. You need something scary to overcome.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Hero #Scary #Overcoming

  • People cry at weddings for the same reason they cry at happy endings: because they so desperately want to believe in something they know is not credible.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Believe #People #Want

  • he might die for her, but living for her would be quite different.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Different #Would Be #Might

  • There are some virtues to not saying what you think all the time.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Thinking #Silence #Virtue

  • He doesn't know which is worse, a past he can't regain or a present that will destroy him if he looks at it too clearly. Then there's the future. Sheer vertigo.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Past #Looks #Vertigo

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

    #Spring #Shadow #Sideways

  • As an artist your first loyalty is to your art. Unless this is the case, you're going to be a second-rate artist.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Loyalty #Art #Firsts

  • Sons branch out, but one woman leads to another.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Witty #Son #Branches

  • There is more than one kind of freedom," said Aunt Lydia. "Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don't underrate it.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Freedom #Aunt #Anarchy

  • 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.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Truth #Writing #Hands

  • Romance takes place in the middle distance. Romance is looking in at yourself through a window clouded with dew. Romance means leaving things out: where life grunts and shuffles, romance only sighs.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Love #Distance #Mean

  • You most likely need a thesaurus, a rudimentary grammar book, and a grip on reality. This latter means: there's no free lunch. Writing is work. It's also gambling. You don't get a pension plan. Other people can help you a bit, but ­essentially you're on your own. Nobody is making you do this: you chose it, so don't whine.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Book #Writing #Mean

  • Every budding dictatorship begins by muzzling the artists, because they're a mouthy lot and they don't line up and salute very easily.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Artist #Lines #Dictatorship

  • Today on the way home, it snows. Big, soft caressing flakes fall onto our skin like cold moths; the air fills with feathers.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Fall #Home #Air

  • You may not be able to alter reality, but you can alter your attitude towards it, and this, paradoxically, alters reality. Try it and see.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Attitude #Reality #Trying

  • I don't think I solve problems in my poetry; I think I uncover the problems.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Thinking #Problem #Solve

  • Richard liked to say he picked things up for a song, which was odd, because he never sang. He never even whistled. He was not a musical person.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Music #Song #Odd

  • For me the experience of writing is really an experience of losing control.... I think it's very much like dreaming or like surfing. You go out there and wait for a wave, and when it comes it takes you somewhere and you don't know where it'll go.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Dream #Writing #Thinking

  • What is your favorite word?” “And. It is so hopeful.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Hopeful #Your Favorite

  • I myself have 12 hats, and each one represents a different personality. Why just be yourself?
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Being Yourself #Personality #Different

  • I am certain that a Sewing Machine would relieve as much human suffering as a hundred Lunatic Asylums, and possibly a good deal more.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Suffering #Machines #Asylums

  • I write as if I've lived a lot of things I haven't lived.
    -- Margaret Atwood

    #Writing