All I ever did to that apartment was hang fifty yards of yellow theatrical silk across the bedroom windows, because I had some idea that the gold light would make me feel better, but I did not bother to weight the curtains correctly and all that summer the long panels of transparent golden silk would blow out the windows and get tangled and drenched in the afternoon thunderstorms. That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.

Joan Didion
Slouching Towards Bethlehem
Goodbye to All That

confronting pain

March 29, 2020

Well, I myself have always found that if I examine something, it’s less scary. You know, I grew up in the West, and we always had this theory that if you saw – if you kept the snake in your eye line, the snake wasn’t going to bite you. And that’s kind of the way I feel about confronting pain. I want to know where it is.

Joan Didion
Radio interview with Terry Gross, 2nd November 2011

nostalgia

August 19, 2018

morning

The heat. I think that’s the way the whole thing began. There’s a lot of landscape that I never would have described if I hadn’t been homesick. If I hadn’t wanted to remember. The impulse was nostalgia. It’s not an uncommon impulse among writers.

The heat. I think that’s the way the whole thing began. There’s a lot of landscape that I never would have described if I hadn’t been homesick. If I hadn’t wanted to remember. The impulse was nostalgia. It’s not an uncommon impulse among writers.

Joan Didion,
The Art of Fiction No. 71, Paris Review

Writing it all down

July 29, 2017

Why did I write it down? In order to remember, of course, but exactly what was it I wanted to remember? How much of it actually happened? Did any of it? Why do I keep a notebook at all? It is easy to deceive oneself on all those scores. The impulse to write things down is a peculiarly compulsive one, inexplicable to those who do not share it, useful only accidentally, only secondarily, in the way that any compulsion tries to justify itself. I suppose that it begins or does not begin in the cradle. Although I have felt compelled to write things down since I was five years old, I doubt that my daughter ever will, for she is a singularly blessed and accepting child, delighted with life exactly as life presents itself to her, unafraid to go to sleep and unafraid to wake up. Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed altogether, lonely and resistant rearrangers of things, anxious malcontents, children afflicted apparently at birth with some presentiment of loss….

The point of my keeping a notebook has never been, nor is it now, to have an accurate factual record of what I have been doing or thinking. That would be a different impulse entirely, an instinct for reality which I sometimes envy but do not possess.

Joan Didion
On Keeping a Notebook

the ‘gloaming’

The French called this time of day “l’ heure bleue”, To the English it was the ‘gloaming’. The very word gloaming reverberates, echoes – the gloaming, the glimmer, the glitter, the glisten, the glamour – carrying in its consonants the images of houses shuttering, gardens darkening, grass-lined rivers slipping through the shadows. During the blue nights you think the end of day will never come. As the blue nights draw to a close (and they will, and they do) you experience an actual chill, an apprehension of illness, at the moment you first notice: the blue light is going, the days are already shortening, the summer is gone.

Joan Didion
Blue Nights