Literary Birthday – 11 December – Grace Paley

Grace Paley was born 11 December 1922 and died 22 August 2007.


  1. I begin by writing paragraphs that don’t have an immediate relation to a plot. The sound of the story comes first.
  2. People will sometimes say, ‘Why don’t you write more politics?’ And I have to explain to them that writing the lives of women IS politics.
  3. Write what will stop your breath if you don’t write.
  4. Literature, fiction, poetry, whatever, makes justice in the world. That’s why it almost always has to be on the side of the underdog.
  5. The wrong word is like a lie jammed inside the story.
  6. Every time you finish something… you figure you’ve finally learned to write, right? Then you start something else and it turns out you haven’t. You have learned how to write that story, or that book, but you haven’t learned how to write the next one.
  7. The only thing you should have to do is find work you love to do.
  8. I have a basic indolence about me which is essential to writing. …It’s thinking time, it’s hanging-out time, it’s daydreaming time. You know, it’s lie-around-the-bed time, it’s sitting-like-a-dope-in-your-chair time. And that seems to me essential to any work.
  9. Keep a low overhead. You’re not going to make a lot of money.
  10. Don’t live with a person who doesn’t respect your work.
  11. I write for the still, small possibility of justice.
  12. But what’s a writer for? The whole point is to put yourself into other lives, other heads-writers have always done that. If you screw up, so someone will tell you, that’s all.

Grace Paley was an American short story author, poet, teacher, and political activist. She was best known for her ‘realistic seriocomic portrayals of working-class New Yorkers’. Her volumes of short stories include The Little Disturbances of Man: Stories of Men and Women at Love and Later the Same Day. Just As I Thought was a collection of Paley’s essays, speeches, and other writings.

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 by Amanda Patterson

Are you interested in more authors’ birthdays? Please click here: Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 10th December 2019