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Fay Weldon

  • A woman has all too much substance in a man's eyes at the best of times. That is why men like women to be slim. Her lack of flesh negates her. The less of her there is, the less notice he need take of her. The more like a male she appears to be, the safer he feels.

  • One can learn, at least. One can go on learning until the day one is cut off.

  • Fortunately, there is more to life than death. There is for one thing, fiction. A thousand thousand characters to be sent marching out into the world to divert time from its forward gallop to the terrible horizon.

  • Letters crossing in the post, unfamiliar tunes heard three times in one day, the way that blows of fate descend upon the same bowed shoulders, and the beams of good fortune glow perpetually upon the blessed. Fairy tales, as I said, are lived out daily. There is far more going on in the world than we ever imagine.

  • I was always furious because you couldn't take out more than three books in one day. You would go home with your three books and read them and it would still be only five o'clock. The library didn't shut till half past, but you couldn't change the books till the next day.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • Writing is an act of generosity toward other people.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • Style is what's there when you look at someone's writing and you know that they wrote it and nobody else did.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • The peculiar need to write is increased, it seems, rather than allayed with practice.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • Confidence is something one acquires. It can come early or late but it is impossible to write without it. Mine came late.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • Another thing that seems quite helpful to the creative process is having babies. It does not detract at all from one's creativity. It reminds one that there is always more where that came from and there is never any shortage of ideas or of the ability to create. The process of being pregnant and then of having the baby and getting up in the night only puts one more in touch with this fecund part of one's self.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • If you wake up in the morning with a great sense of the things that have to be done in the day in order to get through to the next day, you lose the sense of the day as any kind of end in itself.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • Marriage is a very difficult relationship for nearly everyone and I'm sure you shouldn't do it if you want a quiet little easy life.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Nina Winter, Interview With the Muse ()
  • Sound waves do not die out. They travel forever and forever. All our sentences are immortal. Our useless bleatings circle the universe for all eternity.

  • Words are not simple things: they take unto themselves, as they have through time, power and meaning ...

  • It is easier for the reader to judge, by a thousand times, than for the writer to invent. The writer must summon his Idea out of nowhere, and his characters out of nothing, and catch words as they fly, and nail them to the page. The reader has something to go by and somewhere to start from, given to him freely and with great generosity by the writer. And still the reader feels free to find fault.

  • 'Instinct' usually just means our conditioning to believe this or believe that, without thinking to investigate.

  • ... books are wonderful things: to sit alone in a room and laugh and cry, because you are reading, and still be safe when you close the book; and having finished it, discover you are changed, yet unchanged!

  • Fiction, on the whole, and if it is any good, tends to be a subversive element in society.

  • Writers were never meant to be professionals. Writing is not a profession, it is an activity, an essentially amateur occupation. It is what you do when you are not living.

  • Fiction stretches our sensibilities and our understanding, as mere information never can.

  • Because one cause is bad does not make the opposing cause good.

  • Agree with your accusers, loudly and clearly. They will shut up sooner.

  • Writing is more than just the making of a series of comprehensible statements: it is the gathering in of connotations; the harvesting of them, like blackberries in a good season, ripe and heavy, snatched from among the thorns of logic.

  • Ambition will, and should, always outstrip achievement.

  • Had you never noticed the way the secret world sends our signs and symbols into the ordinary world? It delivers our messages in the form of coincidences: Still, it had been a good marriage as marriages go. And as marriages go, it went.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • "Alopecia," in Susan Cahill, ed., New Women & New Fiction ()
  • I like the dry-cleaners. I like the sense of refreshment and renewal. I like the way dirty old torn clothes are dumped, to be returned clean and wholesome in their slippery transparent cases. Better than confesssion any day. Here there is a true sense of rebirth, redemption, salvation.

  • Much sheer effort goes into avoiding truth: left to itself, it sweeps in like the tide.

  • To the happy all things come: happiness can even bring the dead back to life. It is our resentments, our dreariness, our hate and envy, unrecognized by us, which keeps us miserable. Yet these things are in our heads, not out of our hands; we own them. We can throw them out if we choose.

  • As far as I'm concerned, Giles takes 10% of my income; as far as he's concerned, I take 90% of his.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Giles Gordon, "I Can't Get an Agent!" The Author ()
  • If you do nothing unexpected, nothing unexpected happens.

  • ... memory is so selective; wishful thinking presses it into service all the time.

  • ... I was seduced by secrets, which are to true love as artificial sweetener is to sugar, calorie-free but in the long run carcinogenic, not the real thing, and only a peculiar aftertaste in the mouth to tell you so, to warn you.

  • There is no real escape from autobiography into biography. The self has to be faced, or we die.

  • Writers are always a great nuisance to publishers. If they could do without them, they would.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Sybil Steinberg, ed., Writing for Your Life ()
  • A 'weakness,' I now realize, is nothing but a strength not properly developed.

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in Clare Boylan, ed., The Agony and the Ego ()
  • Every time you open your wardrobe, you look at your clothes and you wonder what you are going to wear. What you are really saying is 'Who am I going to be today?'

    • Fay Weldon,
    • in New Yorker ()
  • There seems to be a general overall pattern in most lives, that nothing happens, and nothing happens, and then all of a sudden everything happens.

  • This is an attempt to narrate a real life, my own, and to find the pattern within it. The pattern can't really be completed, of course, until death, when autobiography so rudely turns into biography ...

  • My experience of men in cars has always been that if you don't want them to do something, they will. It is when they are behind a wheel that they most fear the control of women and children.

  • Poverty is a stubborn thing: you seldom escape it with one bound.

  • ... one tends to suspect others of what one is guilty of oneself. The unfaithful wife is quick to suspect the husband of infidelity.

  • ... one learns best, and writes best, in a state of defiance.

  • I have never got on with the quietist movements: they lapse too easily into self-congratulations: I have found the oneness, you have not. I prefer to look outside myself if I possibly can, not inside. Meditation reminds me too forcibly of being made to lie on a mat at nursery school and take an hour's nap.

  • Pride is what you can afford or think you can afford.

  • Nowadays most people wear black most of the time anyway: go to a literary party and one would imagine everyone there was in perpetual mourning for their lives.

  • No one should be allowed to give back the gift of life, unless they are very old and full of tears, when the body outlives the spirit, when they should be allowed to join the others who've already gone.

  • Poetry, I thought then, and still do, is a matter of space on the page interrupted by a few well-chosen words, to give them importance. Prose is a less grand affair which has to stretch to the edges of the page to be convincing.

  • Youth gives a sense of new days dawning bright, going on for ever, and a kind of tamped-down excitement which keeps breaking through even the worst days of poverty, depression and loneliness. But then youth is something which only exists in retrospect; you are barely conscious of it while you have it.

  • A woman's body works as if it knew something she didn't, and does not have her best interests at heart. If you need to look your best it will deliver you a pimple; if you don't want it to, your period will start early; if you want a baby badly your body refuses to give you one; if you are content in your life, lo, you are pregnant.

  • All mothers love their own children as best they can, according to their temperament and circumstances, and all mothers should have done better, in their children's eyes, when the going gets tough for the children.

  • And then of course the babies came, and took us by surprise, as babies do. First, how much you love them, second, how much work they are, third, how difficult it is to leave them. We would rather sit and sing to them than get on with running a business.

  • ... by and large, nothing is as bad as you fear, or as good as you hope.

  • The prophets of doom, in my experience, are generally ignored and usually right.

  • No one seemed able to look at themselves, coolly, from the outside. Their reality was all that could be seen in the light cast ahead by their own wishful thinking.

  • People hear what they want and expect to hear, not what is said.

  • Never defend yourself; agree with your critics, it takes the wind out of their sails.

  • If infinity is as they describe it, all things are not just possible but in the end certain ...

  • Of course you have to believe in destiny; that everything is sheer chance is an intolerable notion.

  • Marriage is what happens when one at least of the partners doesn't want the other to get away.

  • Prudence says one thing, desire says another, and I'd rather go with desire any time.

  • Both Ron and I went to see our analysts twice a week so really there was no need to speak to each other.

Fay Weldon, English writer, critic, playwright


Born: Franklin Birkinshaw. Full name: Fay Birkinshaw Davies Bateman Weldon Fox.