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Joy Williams

  • As you grow older, you'll find that you enjoy talking to strangers far more than to your friends.

  • Of course there is nothing that cannot be done incorrectly.

  • I believe in guilt. There's not enough guilt around these days for my taste.

    • Joy Williams,
    • in Janet Sternburg, ed., The Writer on Her Work, vol. 2 ()
  • The writer doesn't trust his enemies, of course, who are wrong about his writing, but he doesn't trust his friends, either, who he hopes are right. The writer trusts nothing he writes — it should be too reckless and alive for that, it should be beautiful and menacing and slightly out of his control. It should want to live itself somehow. The writer dies — he can die before he dies, it happens all the time, he dies as a writer — but the work wants to live. Language accepts the writer as its host, it feeds off the writer, it makes him a husk. There is something uncanny about good writing — uncanny the singing that comes from certain husks. The writer is never nourished by his own work, it is never satisfying to him. The work is a stranger, it shuns him a little, for the writer is really something of a fool, so engaged in his disengagement, so self-conscious, so eager to serve something greater, which is the writing.

    • Joy Williams,
    • "Why I Write," Ill Nature ()

Joy Williams, U.S. writer

(1944)