Autobiography is an exercise in self-forgiveness. The observing “I” of autobiography tells the story of the observed “I” not as a journalist tells the story of his subject, but as a mother might. The older narrator looks back at his younger self with tenderness and pity, empathizing with its sorrows and allowing for its sins. I see that my journalist’s habits have inhibited my self-love. Not only have I failed to make my young self as interesting as the strangers I have written about, but I have withheld my affection. In what follows I will try to see myself less coldly, be less fearful of writing a puff piece. But it may be too late to change my spots.-Janet Malcolm, "Thoughts on Autobiography from an Abandoned Autobiography"
"I am always, and always will be, vulnerable to my own work, because by making visible what is most intimate to me I endow it with the objectivity that forces me to see it with utter, distinct clarity. A strange fate. I make a home for myself in my work, yet when I enter that home I know how flimsy a shelter I have wrought for my spirit. My vulnerability to my own life is irrefutable. Nor do I wish it to be otherwise, as vulnerability is a guardian of integrity."-Anne Truitt, Turn
"No feeling is quite as unbearable as shame, except perhaps shame mixed with desire. The two emotions seemingly oppose each other. Shame lives in the crouching darkness and holds all of the things we don’t want to look at, all of our youngest, smallest parts. Desire is big and direct and requires us to look at, name, and then draw close to what we want. To be reaching for something that one is also desperately trying to shrink away from, is one of the most confusing and painful of contradictions."-Amy Gall, An Interview with Garth Greenwell
"There is a pressure to swim well and to use this water correctly. People think swimming is carefree and effortless. A bath! In fact, it is full of anxieties. Every water has its own rules and offering. Misuse is hard to explain. Perhaps involved is that commonplace struggle to know beauty, to know beauty exactly, to put oneself right in its path, to be in the perfect place to hear the nightingale sing, see the groom kiss the bride, clock the comet. Every water has a right place to be, but that place is in motion. You have to keep finding it, keep having it find you. Your movement sinks into and out of it with each stroke. You can fail it with each stroke. What does that mean, fail it."
"She stands awhile, watching the fox swim, looking back on the day, its images too strong, and yet the soul—how does it ever get peace in its mouth, close its mouth on peace while alive. To be alive is just this pouring in and out. Find, lose, demand, obsess, move head slightly closer. Try to swim without thinking how strong it looks. Try to do what you do without mockery of our heartbroken little era. To mock is easy. She feels a breeze on her forehead, night wind. The fox is stroking splashlessly forward. The fox does not fail."-Anne Carson, "1=1"
“How can you be more intimate with the person who pours your drinks than the person who shares your bed, your income, your credit score and life?” I asked her.-Kim Brooks, "I'm Having a Friendship Affair"
“Exactly,” she said. “Real life is hard. It’s the enemy of feeling.”
This seemed the bleakest sort of pronouncement, but I didn’t challenge her on it. I knew what she meant. Marriage, motherhood, daughterhood, siblinghood: They all involve a complex, never-ending web of compromise and negotiation. Friendship, by comparison, feels light and free.
After a while, I came to terms with the fact that my new friend and I wouldn’t be soul mates or BFFs, we wouldn’t text constantly and talk on the phone for hours, make up our own language, or learn to do back handsprings together in the yard. We would be regular, grown-up friends. We would have brief moments of meaningful connection amid long stretches of silence or empty “How’s it going?” back-and-forths. It was a relief, but also, a little bit sad. “What’s the point?” I asked my husband. “Life is too short for small talk and bullshit.”