Jeanette Winterson quotes

  • Art can make a difference because it pulls people up short. It says, don't accept things for their face value; you don't have to go along with any of this; you can think for yourself.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Art #Thinking #Differences

  • You've got these twenty million people who call themselves the Evangelical Christians who will put their hand up and say, I believe in the devil, I'm against abortion and gay rights, and we have to blow up the world. It's frightening.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Christian #Believe #Gay

  • Love demands expression. It will not stay still, stay silent, be good, be modest, be seen and not heard, no. It will break out in tongues of praise, the high note that smashes the glass and spills the liquid.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Expression #Glasses #Demand

  • The Anglo-American tradition is much more linear than the European tradition. If you think about writers like Borges, Calvino, Perec or Marquez, they're not bound in the same sort of way. They don't come out of the classic 19th-century novel, which is where all the problems start. 19th-century novels are fabulous and we should all read them, but we shouldn't write them.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Writing #Thinking #Way

  • Do you fall in love often?" Yes often. With a view, with a book, with a dog, a cat, with numbers, with friends, with complete strangers, with nothing at all.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Dog #Falling In Love #Book

  • We [fiction writers] are much more of a maze than we are a motorway. Things are always in flux, they're always in movement, they're always twisting back on each other. I think the straight line is such a lie.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Lying #Thinking #Mazes

  • Everything in writing begins with language. Language begins with listening.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Inspirational #Writing #Listening

  • Life is fragmentary, and the pattern that creativity can offer is not one that is imposed, not something rigid, but rather something which can reveal the intrinsic patterns of that fragmentation. Things are in a perpetual dance, but there is an order. It's not really random at all.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Creativity #Order #Patterns

  • I find pieces of myself everywhere, and I cut myself handling them.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Cutting #Pieces

  • You know every cell in our bodies is completely renewed every seven years, so how can we talk about being the same person? We're absolutely not.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Cells #Years #Body

  • I have a theory that every time you make an important choice, the part of you left behind continues the other life you could have had.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Choices #Important #Theory

  • As people get older they have these rigid patterns that they impose on themselves, and it kills them. They become dull, they become dead to new experience, they become afraid, biased, and bigoted. It's really simply to do with refusing new experience.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #People #Dull #Patterns

  • Books, for me, are a home. Books don’t make a home – they are one, in the sense that just as you do with a door, you open a book, and you go inside. Inside there is a different kind of time and a different kind of space.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Book #Home #Space

  • People being encouraged to make up their own minds and think for themselves is so important. This world talks endlessly about freedom of choice, but we've never been [nothing] more than a nation of robots. Everybody is seduced by corporate culture.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Thinking #People #Choices

  • To be ill adjusted to a deranged world is not a breakdown.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Inspirational #World #Breakdown

  • The fact is that every atom that we're made of is part of that first explosion of a nuclear star billions of years ago. We're connected to the entire universe.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Stars #Years #Atoms

  • There are times when it will go so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realise that being barely alive, on your own terms, is better than living a bloated half-life on someone else's terms.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Half #Alive #Term

  • Organized religion is a very bad way of passing on spiritual values because it becomes so corrupted with political and repressive agendas which don't help anybody to develop their spirituality.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Spiritual #Political #Agendas

  • I say I'm in love with her. What does that mean? It means I review my future and my past in the light of this feeling. It is as though I wrote in a foreign language that I am suddenly able to read. Wordlessly, she explains me to myself. LIke genius she is ignorant of what she does.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love #Future #Mean

  • The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious you might never come home.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Home #Literature #Might

  • I know now, after fifty years, that the finding/losing, forgetting/remembering, leaving/returning, never stops. The whole of life is about another chance, and while we are alive, till the very end, there is always another chance.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Years #Leaving #Alive

  • You’ll get over it…” It’s the clichés that cause the trouble. To lose someone you love is to alter your life for ever. You don’t get over it because ‘it” is the person you loved. The pain stops, there are new people, but the gap never closes. How could it? The particularness of someone who mattered enough to grieve over is not made anodyne by death. This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no-one else can fit it. Why would I want them to?
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love #Pain #Pregnancy

  • Love is the one thing stronger than desire and the only proper reason to resist temptation.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love Is #Temptation #Desire

  • Their throats were bare for God.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Throat

  • It is just as likely that as I invent what I want to say, you will invent what you want to hear.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Want #What You Want

  • I know our feelings can be so unbearable that we employ ingenious strategies – unconscious strategies – to keep those feelings away. We do a feelings-swap, where we avoid feeling sad or lonely or afraid or inadequate, and feel angry instead. It can work the other way, too – sometimes you do need to feel angry, not inadequate; sometimes you do need to feel love and acceptance, and not the tragic drama of your life. It takes courage to feel the feeling – and not trade it on the feelings-exchange, or even transfer it altogether to another person.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Lonely #Drama #Acceptance

  • I like being on my own better than I like anything else, but I can't give up love. Maybe it's the tension between longing and aloneness that I need. My own funicular railway, holding in balance the two things most likely to destroy me.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Giving Up #Two #Balance

  • The body shuts down when it has too much to bear; goes its own way quietly inside, waiting for a better time, leaving you numb and half alive.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Numbness #Waiting #Leaving

  • Book collecting is an obsession, an occupation, a disease, an addiction, a fascination, an absurdity, a fate. It is not a hobby. Those who do it must do it.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Book #Fate #Addiction

  • I spin worlds where we could be together. I dream you. For me, imagination and desire are very close.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Dream #Imagination #Desire

  • I want someone who is fierce and will love me until death and knows that love is as strong as death, and be on my side forever and ever. I want someone who will destroy and be destroyed by me.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Strong #Love Is #Forever

  • In the library I felt better, words you could trust and look at till you understood them, they couldn't change half way through a sentence like people, so it was easier to spot a lie.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Lying #People #Library

  • There are many forms of love and affection, some people can spend their whole lives together without knowing each other's names. Naming is a difficult and time-consuming process; it concerns essences, and it means power. But on the wild nights who can call you home? Only the one who knows your name.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Mean #Home #Night

  • In the heat of her hands I thought, This is the campfire that mocks the sun. This place will warm me, feed me and care for me. I will hold on to this pulse against other rhythms. The world will come and go in the tide of a day but here is her hand with my future in its palm.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Hands #Care #Tides

  • do it from the heart or not at all.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Life #Heart

  • The body can endure compromise and the mind can be seduced by it. Only the heart protests. The heart. Carbon-based primitive in a silicon world.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Heart #Mind #World

  • live in the space between chaos and shape. I walk the line that continually threatens to lose its tautness under me, dropping me into the dark pit where there is no meaning. At other times the line is so wired that it lights up the soles of my feet, gradually my whole body, until I am my own beacon, and I see then the beauty of newly created worlds, a form that is not random. A new beginning.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #New Beginnings #Dark #Feet

  • Lovers are not at their best when it matters. Mouths dry up, palms sweat, conversation flags and all the time the heart is threatening to fly from the body once and for all. Lovers have been known to have heart attacks. Lovers drink too much from nervousness and cannot perform. They eat too little and faint during their fervently wished consummation. They do not stroke the favoured cat and their face-paint comes loose. This is not all. Whatever you have set store by, your dress, your dinner, your poetry, will go wrong.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Cat #Heart #Sweat

  • Perhaps all romance is like that; not a contract between equal parties but an explosion of dreams and desires that can find no outlet in everyday life. Only a drama will do and while the fireworks last the sky is a different colour.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Dream #Drama #Party

  • One day, tens of millions of years from now, someone will find me rusted into the mud of a world they have never seen, and when they crumble me between their fingers, it will be you they find.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Years #One Day #World

  • If you continually write and read yourself as a fiction, you can change what's crushing you.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Crush #Book #Reading

  • After every ''victory'' you have more enemies.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #War #Enemy #Victory

  • The continuous narrative of existence is a lie. There is no continuous narrative, there are lit-up moments, and the rest is dark.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Lying #Dark #Narrative

  • I've lived my life like a serial killer; finish with one part, strangle it and move on to the next. Life in neat little boxes is life in neat little coffins, the dead bodies of the past laid out side by side. I am discovering, now, in the late afternoon of the day, that the dead still speak.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Moving #Past #Serial Killer

  • But not all dark places need light, I have to remember that.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Dark #Light #Needs

  • While I can’t have you, I long for you. I am the kind of person who would miss a train or a plane to meet you for coffee. I’d take a taxi across town to see you for ten minutes. I’d wait outside all night if I thought you would open the door in the morning. If you call me and say ‘Will you…’ my answer is ‘Yes’, before your sentence is out. I spin worlds where we could be together. I dream you. For me, imagination and desire are very close.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love #Dream #Morning

  • I am a writer who happens to love women. I am not a lesbian who happens to write.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love #Writing

  • You said, 'I love you.' Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear? 'I love you' is always a quotation. You did not say it first and neither did I, yet when you say it and when I say it we speak like savages who have found three words and worship them. I did worship them but now I am alone on a rock hewn out of my own body.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love You #Rocks #Long

  • I like the way the morning can be stormy and the afternoon clear and sparkly as a jewel in the water. Put your hand in the water to reach for a sea urchin or a sea shell, and the thing desired never quite lies where you had lined it up to be. The same is true of love. In prospect or contemplation, love is where it seems to be. Reach in to lift it out and your hand misses
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Morning #Lying #Love Is

  • Language always betrays us, tells the truth when we want to lie, and dissolves into formlessness when we would most like to be precise.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Lying #Want #Language

  • Pain is very often a maimed creature without a mouth.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Pain #Mouths #Creatures

  • I return to problems i can't solve, not because i am an idiot, but because the real problems can't be solved. The universe is expanding. The more we see, the more we discover there is to see. Always a new beginning, a different end.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Real #New Beginnings #Return

  • When I was born I became the visible corner of a folded map. The map has more than one route. More than one destination. The map that is the unfolding self is not exactly leading anywhere. The arrow that says YOU ARE HERE is your first coordinate. There is a lot that you can't change when you are a kid. But you can pack for the journey...
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Kids #Journey #Self

  • When we make a change, it's so easy to interpret our unsettledness as unhappiness, and our unhappiness as a result of having made the wrong decision. Our mental and emotional states fluctuate madly when we make big changes in our lives, and some days we could tight-rope across Manhattan, and other days we are too weary to clean our teeth. This is normal. This is natural. This is change.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Emotional #Decision #Teeth

  • I don't understand why people talk of art as a luxury when it's a mind-altering possibility.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Art #Luxury #People

  • If we had the courage to love we would not so value these acts of war.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #War #Courage To Love #Values

  • In my subconscious, my books were part of a single emotional journey.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Book #Journey #Emotional

  • You said, 'I love you.' Why is it that the most unoriginal thing we can say to one another is still the thing we long to hear?
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love You #Long #Said

  • I was happy but happy is an adult word. You don't have to ask a child about happy, you see it. They are or they are not. Adults talk about being happy because largely they are not. Talking about it is the same as trying to catch the wind. Much easier to let it blow all over you.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Children #Blow #Wind

  • Do you wake up as I do, having forgotten what it is that hurts or where, until you move? There is a second of consciousness that is clean again. A second that is you, without memory or experience, the animal warm and waking into a brand new world. There is the sun dissolving the dark, and light as clear as music, filling the room where you sleep and the other rooms behind your eyes.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Hurt #Memories #Moving

  • I think now that being free is not being powerful or rich or well regarded or without obligation but being able to love. To love someone else enough to forget about yourself even for one moment is to be free.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love #Powerful #Thinking

  • I knew it like destiny, and at the same time, I knew it as choice.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Fate #Destiny #Choices

  • Writers have to have a knack for listening. I need to be able to hear what is being said to me by the voices I create.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Voice #Listening #Able

  • In this life, you have to be your own hero.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Hero #This Life

  • What it means to be human is to bring up your children in safety, educate them, keep them healthy, teach them how to care for themselves and others, allow them to develop in their own way among adults who are sane and responsibile, who know the value of the world and not its economic potential. It means art, it means time, it means all the invisibles never counted by the GDP and the census figures. It means knowing that life has an inside as well as an outside. And I think it means love.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Art #Children #Mean

  • If I can't stay where I am, and I can't, then I will put all that I can into the going.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

  • There's no such thing as autobiography, there's only art and lies
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Art #Lying #Autobiography

  • What you risk reveals what you value.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Risk #Literature #Take A Chance

  • Writing is both bomb and bomb disposal-a necessary shattering of cliche and assumption, and a powerful defusing of the soul-destroying messages of modern life (that nothing matters, nothing changes, money is everything, etc). Writing is a state of being as well as an act of doing.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Powerful #Writing #Soul

  • It's true that heroes are inspiring, but mustn't they also do some rescuing if they are to be worthy of their name? Would Wonder Woman matter if she only sent commiserating telegrams to the distressed?
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Hero #Names #Wonder Woman

  • Language is a finding-place not a hiding place.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Language #Hiding #Hiding Place

  • The rebellion of art is a daily rebellion against the state of living death routinely called real life.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Art #Real #Rebellion

  • Life was a pre-death experience.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

  • Everyone who tells a story tells it differently, just to remind us that everybody sees it differently. Some people say there are true things to be found, some people say all kinds of things can be proved. I don't believe them. The only thing for certain is how complicated it all is, like string full of knots. It's all there but hard to find the beginning and impossible to fathom the end. The best you can do is admire the cat's cradle, and maybe knot it up a bit more.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Believe #Cat #People

  • I had no one to help me, but the T. S. Eliot helped me. So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is. It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Powerful #Stupid #School

  • Cheating is easy. There's no swank to infidelity. To borrow against the trust someone has placed in you costs nothing at first. You get away with it, you take a little more and a little more until there is no more to draw on. Oddly, your hands should be full with all that taking but when you open them there's nothing there.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Cheating #Hands #Infidelity

  • They say that every snowflake is different. If that were true, how could the world go on? How could we ever get up off our knees? How could we ever recover from the wonder of it?
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Knees #Different #Goes On

  • When I fell in love it was as though I looked into a mirror for the first time and saw myself.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Mirrors #Saws #Firsts

  • Written on the body is a secret code only visible in certain lights: the accumulations of a lifetime gather there. In places the palimpsest is so heavily worked that the letters feel like Braille. I like to keep my body rolled up away from prying eyes, never unfold too much, or tell the whole story. I didn't know that Louise would have reading hands. She has translated me into her own book.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Book #Reading #Eye

  • Long looking at paintings is equivalent to being dropped into a foreign city, where gradually, out of desire and despair, a few key words, then a little syntax make a clearing in the silence. Art... is a foreign city, and we deceive ourselves when we think it familiar... We have to recognize that the language of art, all art, is not our mother-tongue.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Mother #Art #Thinking

  • The Buddhists say there are 149 ways to God. I'm not looking for God, only for myself, and that is far more complicated. God has had a great deal written about Him; nothing has been written about me. God is bigger, like my mother, easier to find, even in the dark. I could be anywhere, and since I can't describe myself I can't ask for help.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #God #Mother #Buddhist

  • I go on writing so that I will always have something to read.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Writing #Goes On

  • Yes, the stories are dangerous, she was right. A book is a magic carpet that flies you off elsewhere. A book is a door. You open it. You step through. Do you come back?
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Book #Doors #Magic

  • What kills love? Only this: Neglect. Not to see you when you stand before me. Not to think of you in the little things. Not to make the road wide for you, the table spread for you. To choose you out of habit not desire, to pass the flower seller without a thought. To leave the dishes unwashed, the bed unmade, to ignore you in the mornings, make use of you at night. To crave another while pecking your cheek. To say your name without hearing it, to assume it is mine to call.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Morning #Flower #Night

  • Time that withers you will wither me. We will fall like ripe fruit and roll down the grass together. Dear friend, let me lie beside you watching the clouds until the earth covers us and we are gone.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Lying #Fall #Clouds

  • ...there are two kinds of writing: the one you write and the one that writes you.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Writing #Two #Kind

  • The Hopi, an Indian tribe, have a language as sophisticated as ours, but no tenses for past, present and future. The division does not exist. What does this say about time? Matter, that thing the most solid and the well-known, which you are holding in your hands and which makes up your body, is now known to be mostly empty space. Empty space and points of light. What does this say about the reality of the world?
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Past #Reality #Hands

  • Happy ending are only a pause. There are three kinds of big endings: Revenge. Tragedy. Forgiveness. Revenge and Tragedy often happen together. Forgiveness redeems the past. Forgiveness unblocks the future.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Revenge #Past #Together

  • She must find a boat and sail in it. No guarantee of shore. Only a conviction that what she wanted could exist, if she dared to find it.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Guarantees #Boat #Conviction

  • When I say 'I will be true to you' I am drawing a quiet space beyond the reach of other desires.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Drawing #Space #Desire

  • ..to change something you do not understand is the true nature of evil.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Evil #Nature Of Evil

  • It’s better to think of my life like that— part miracle, part madness. It’s better if I accept that I can’t control any of the things that matter. My life is a trail of shipwrecks and set-sails. There are no arrivals, no destinations; there are only sandbanks and shipwreck; then another boat, another tide.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Thinking #Miracle #Tides

  • There is no discovery without risk and what you risk reveals what you value.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Discovery #Risk #Values

  • Of course, people will laugh at you, but people laugh at a great many things so there is no need to take it personally.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #People #Laughing #Needs

  • Fragile creatures of a small blue planet, surrounded by light years of silent space.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Years #Space #Light

  • You play, you win, you play, you lose. You play. It’s the playing that’s irresistible. Dicing from one year to the next with the things you love, what you risk reveals what you value.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Love #Winning #Years

  • It's hard to remember that this day will never come again. That the time is now and the place is here and that there are no second chances at a single moment.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Second Chance #Remember #Moments

  • [Fiction and poetry] are medicines, they're doses, and they heal the rupture that reality makes on the imagination.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Reality #Medicine #Imagination

  • Whatever it is that pulls the pin, that hurls you past the boundaries of your own life into a brief and total beauty, even for a moment, it is enough
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Past #Moments #Boundaries

  • Tell me the story, Pew. . . . It was a woman. You always say that. There's always a woman somewhere, child; a princess, a witch, a stepmother, a mermaid, a fairy godmother, or one as wicked as she is beautiful, or as beautiful as she is good. Is that the complete list? Then there is the woman you love. Who's she? That's another story.
    -- Jeanette Winterson

    #Beauty #Beautiful #Children