Literary Birthday – 6 January – Elizabeth Strout

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Strout, born 6 January 1956.


  1. I do reread, kind of obsessively, partly for the surprise of how the same book reads at a different point in life, and partly to have the sense of returning to an old friend.
  2. It is not ‘good’ or ‘bad’ that interests me as a writer, but the murkiness of human experience and the consistent imperfections of our lives.
  3. When you get writer’s block it’s because you’re doing something false. There’s a billion ways to be false. You can be writing a story one way when it really wants to be a different way. You can be trying to protect yourself — which is even worse. Or you can be showing off or whatever.
  4. I’m writing for my ideal reader, for somebody who’s willing to take the time, who’s willing to get lost in a new world, who’s willing to do their part. But then I have to do my part and give them a sound and a voice that they believe in enough to keep going.
  5. I do write by hand. I just think – I don’t know, it’s a physical thing for me. It’s a bodily thing. It literally has to earn its way through my hand.
  6. I cut and cut and cut. I write tons of stuff that just never makes it. I’ve written hundreds of pages sometimes just to get one page.
  7. If you’re always thinking of the other person first, you don’t have to bother with what you’re feeling. Or thinking.
  8. In case you haven’t noticed, people get hard-hearted against the people they hurt. Because they can’t stand it. Literally. To think we did that to someone. I did that. So we think of all the reasons why it’s okay we did whatever we did.
  9. I don’t think there was a particular book that made me want to write. They all did. I always wanted to write.
  10. People know exactly who loves them, and how much.
  11. I’m a writer and so I spend a great deal of my time alone. And every decision I ultimately make on that page, I make alone. And then the work goes out into the world…. What I do (I have come to realise this) is an act of faith. And whatever you all will do will also be acts of faith.
  12. The key to contentment was to never ask why; she had learned that long ago.
  13. The facts didn’t matter. Their stories mattered, and each of their stories belonged to each of them alone.

Elizabeth Strout is an American author of fiction. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for Olive Kitteridge.

Source for Image: Author Facebook page. Photo: James Tierney Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0

by Amanda Patterson

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

Posted on: 6th January 2015