October 13, 2016

Amy Tan Quotes

“After the gold was removed from my body I felt lighter, more free. They say this is what happens if you lack metal. You begin to think as an independent person.”

“Even though I was young, I could see the pain of the flesh and the worth of the pain.”

“Everyone must dream. We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming—well, that’s like saying you can never change your fate. Isn’t that true?”

“For woman is yin, the darkness within, where untempered passions lie. And man is yang, bright truth lighting our minds.”

“God, life changes faster than you think.”

“How can you say luck and chance are the same thing? Chance is the first step you take, luck is what comes afterwards.”

“I also thought of playing improvisational jazz and I did take lessons for a while. At first I tried to write fiction by making up things that were completely alien to my life.”

“I began to look at all events and all things as relevant, an opportunity to take or avoid.”

“I did not lose myself all at once. I rubbed out my face over the years washing away my pain, the same way carvings on stone are worn down by water.”

“I didn’t fear failure. I expected failure.”

“I discovered that maybe it was fate all along, that faith was just an illusion that somehow you’re in control.”

“I had new thoughts, willful thoughts, or rather thoughts filled with lots of won’ts. I won’t let her change me, I promised myself. I won’t be what I’m not.”

“I have a writer’s memory which makes everything worse than maybe it actually was.”

“I have always known a thing before it happens.”

“I learned to forgive myself, and that enabled me to forgive my mother as a person.”

“I loved fairy tales when I was a kid. Grimm. The grimmer the better. I loved gruesome Gothic tales and, in that respect, I liked Bible stories, because to me they were very Gothic.”

“I read a book a day when I was a kid. My family was not literary; we did not have any books in the house.”

“I remember wondering why it was that eating something good could make me feel so terrible, while vomiting something terrible could make me feel so good.”

“I saw my mother in a different light. We all need to do that. You have to be displaced from what’s comfortable and routine, and then you get to see things with fresh eyes, with new eyes.”

“I saw what I had been fighting for: it was for me, a scared child…”

“I started a second novel seven times and I had to throw them away.”

“I think I’ve always been somebody, since the deaths of my father and brother, who was afraid to hope. So, I was more prepared for failure and for rejection than for success.”

“I thought I was clever enough to write as well as these people and I didn’t realize that there is something called originality and your own voice.”

“I used to think that my mother got into arguments with people because they didn’t understand her English, because she was Chinese.”

“I wanted my children to have the best combination: American circumstances and Chinese character. How could I know these things do not mix?”

“I wanted to write stories for myself. At first it was purely an aesthetic thing about craft. I just wanted to become good at the art of something. And writing was very private.”

“I was intelligent enough to make up my own mind. I not only had freedom of choice, I had freedom of expression.”

“I was no longer scared. I could see what was inside me.”

“I would find myself laughing and wondering where these ideas came from. You can call it imagination, I suppose. But I was grateful for wherever they came from.”

“I would still like to have that luxury, to be able to just sit and draw for hours and hours and hours. In a way, that’s what I do as a writer.”

“In America nobody says you have to keep the circumstances somebody else gives you.”

“It is because I had so much joy that I came to have so much hate.”

“It’s a luxury being a writer, because all you ever think about is life.”

“It’s both rebellion and conformity that attack you with success.”

“Memory feeds imagination.”

“My father has asked me to be the fourth corner at the Joy Luck Club. I am to replace my mother, whose seat at the mah jong table has been empty since she died two months ago. My father thinks she was killed by her own thoughts.”

“My mother had a look on her face that I’ll never forget. It was one of complete despair and horror, for losing Bing, for being so foolish as to think she could use faith to change fate.”

“My mother had a very difficult childhood, having seen her own mother kill herself. So she didn’t always know how to be the nurturing mother that we all expect we should have.”

“My mother said I was a clingy kid until I was about four. I also remember that from the age of eight she and I fought almost every day.”

“My parents had very high expectations. They expected me to get straight A’s from the time I was in kindergarten.”

“My parents told me I would become a doctor and then in my spare time I would become a concert pianist. So, both my day job and my spare time were sort of taken care of.”

“No one in my family was a reader of literary fiction. So, I didn’t have encouragement, but I didn’t have discouragement, because I don’t think anybody knew what that meant.”

“Now that I’m angry at Harold, it’s hard to remember what was so remarkable about him.”

“On the third day after someone dies, the soul comes back to settle scores. In my mother’s case, this would be the first day of the lunar new year. And because it is the new year, all debts must be paid, or disaster and misfortune will follow.”

“Only two kind of daughters. Those who are obedient and those who follow their own mind! Only one kind of daughter can live in this house. Obedient daughter!”

“Over the years, she told me the same story, except for the ending, which grew darker, casting long shadows into her life, and eventually into mine.”

“People look at me as this very, I don’t know, Confucius-like wise person — which I’m not. They don’t see all the shit that I’ve been through.”

“People think it’s a terrible tragedy when somebody has Alzheimer’s. But in my mother’s case, it’s different. My mother has been unhappy all her life. For the first time in her life, she’s happy.”

“Placing on writers the responsibility to represent a culture is an onerous burden.”

“She said ‘I’m by commission. You don’t have to pay anything until you sell anything.’ I said, ‘Well fine. You want to be my agent and not make anything.’ I thought, ‘Boy, is she dumb.”

“That was a wonderful period in my life. I mean, I didn’t become an artist, but somebody let me do something I loved. What a luxury, to do something you love to do.”

“That was the night, in the kitchen, that I realized I was no better than who I was… And I no longer felt angry at Waverly. I felt tired and foolish, as if I had been running to escape someone chasing me, only to look behind and discover there was no one there.”

“The forbidden things were a great influence on my life. I was forbidden from reading A Catcher in the Rye.”

“Then you must teach my daughter this same lesson. How to lose your innocence but not your hope. How to laugh forever.”

“There are a lot of people who think that’s what’s needed to be successful is always being right, always being careful, always picking the right path.”

“We are the kind of people who obsess over one word… but we have only one shot to get it right in concert. It was hard the first time I practiced with them. I was so nervous that my vocal chords were paralyzed for about a half-hour.”

“Whenever I’m with my mother, I feel as though I have to spend the whole time avoiding land mines.”

“Whenever my mother talks to me, she begins the conversation as if we were already in the middle of an argument.”

“Who knows where inspiration comes from. Perhaps it arises from desperation. Perhaps it comes from the flukes of the universe, the kindness of the muses.”

“With each passing day, I didn’t lose hope. I fought to have more.”

“Words to me were magic. You could say a word and it could conjure up all kinds of images or feelings or a chilly sensation or whatever. It was amazing to me that words had this power.”

“Writing is an extreme privilege but it’s also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and it’s a gift of giving a story to someone.”

“You can get sucked into the idea that, ‘Gosh, this is impressive. Maybe I should do this. It will look good.’ Or ‘I’ll write like this because it will impress that critic.”

“You see what power is – holding someone else’s fear in your hand and showing it to them!”

“You write a book and you hope somebody will go out and pay $24.95 for what you’ve just said. I think books were my salvation. Books saved me from being miserable.”