We mostly understand ourselves through an endless series of stories told to ourselves by ourselves and others. The so-called facts of our individual words are highly coloured and arbitrary, facts that fit whatever fiction we have chosen to believe in. It is necessary to have a story, an alibi that gets us through the day, but what happens when the story becomes scripture? When we can no longer recognize anything outside our own reality?

We have to be careful not to live in a state of constant self-censorship, where whatever conflicts with our world view is dismissed or diluted until it ceases to be a bother. Struggling against the limitations we place on our minds is our own imaginative capacity, a recognition of an inner life often at odds with the internal figuring’s we spend so much energy supporting.

Jeanette Winterson
Art Objects: Essays on Ecstasy and Effrontery

new stories can root

February 13, 2020

When we let ourselves respond to poetry, to music, to pictures, we are clearing out a space where new stories can root, in effect we are clearing a space for new stories about ourselves.

Jeanette Winterson
Testimony Against Gertrude Stein

live with mermaids

March 2, 2019

The curious are always in some danger. If you are curious you might never come home, like all the men who now live with mermaids at the bottom of the sea.

Or the people who found Atlantis.

Jeanette Winterson
Oranges are Not the Only Fruit

trees turning into women

February 5, 2019

There are plenty of legends about women turning into trees but are there any about trees turning into women? Is it odd to say that your lover reminds you of a tree? Well she does, it’s the way her hair fills with wind and sweeps out around her head. Very often I expect her to rustle. She doesn’t rustle but her flesh has the moonlit shade of a silver birch. Would I had a hedge of such saplings naked and unadorned.

Jeanette Winterson
Written on the Body

to kiss and stroke

January 31, 2019

Making love in the afternoon is completely different in summer and winter. To begin as the afternoon light is fading, to wake up, warm and heavy, when it is completely dark, to kiss and stroke the shared invisible body, to leave the person you love half asleep while
you go and open wine…

Jeanette Winterson
Why I Adore the Night

Ten Rules For Writing Fiction

December 14, 2018

1. Turn up for work. Discipline allows creative freedom. No discipline equals no freedom.

2. Never stop when you are stuck. You may not be able to solve the problem, but turn aside and write something else. Do not stop altogether.

3. Love what you do.

4. Be honest with yourself. If you are no good, accept it. If the work you are doing is no good, accept it.

5. Don’t hold on to poor work. If it was bad when it went in the drawer it will be just as bad when it comes out.

6. Take no notice of anyone you don’t respect.

7. Take no notice of anyone with a gender agenda. A lot of men still think that women lack imagination of the fiery kind.

8. Be ambitious for the work and not for the reward.

9. Trust your creativity.

10. Enjoy this work!

Jeanette Winterson
Ten Rules For Writing Fiction
Guardian February 2010

T. S. Eliot helped me

December 13, 2018

I had no one to help me, but then T. S. Eliot helped me.

So when people say that poetry is a luxury, or an option, or for the educated middle classes, or that it shouldn’t be read at school because it is irrelevant, or any of the strange stupid things that are said about poetry and its place in our lives, I suspect that the people doing the saying have had things pretty easy. A tough life needs a tough language – and that is what poetry is. That is what literature offers – a language powerful enough to say how it is.

It isn’t a hiding place. It is a finding place.

Jeanette Winterson
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?

strangle it and move on

November 30, 2018

When we killed what we were to become what we are, what did we do with the bodies? We did what most people do; buried them under the floorboards and got used to the smell. I’ve lived my life like a serial killer; finish with one part, strangle it and move on to the next. Life in neat little boxes is life in neat little coffins, the dead bodies of the past laid out side by side. I am discovering, now, in the late afternoon of the day, that the dead still speak.

Jeanette Winterson
Gut Symmetries

expect her to rustle

September 22, 2018

Some people are magic, and others are just the illusion of it

There are plenty of legends about women turning into trees but are there any about trees turning into women? Is it odd to say that your lover reminds you of a tree? Well she does, it’s the way her hair fills with wind and sweeps out around her head. Very often I expect her to rustle. She doesn’t rustle but her flesh has the moonlit shade of a silver birch. Would I had a hedge of such saplings naked and unadorned.

Jeanette Winterson
Written on the Body

Destroy

September 9, 2018

I want someone who will destroy and be destroyed by me.

Jeanette Winterson
Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit