We’ve all heard or read them — those quotes that speak to us and make us realize that for as confused about life as we sometimes get, there’s someone else out there who understands. I recently read two Erica Jong quotes from the book, “The Writer and Her Work” that resonated with me, so much so that I hand-wrote them out and stuck them on my nightstand so I could read them regularly.
Here they are:
“In the past several years, I have learned, in short, to trust myself. Not to eradicate fear but to go on in spite of fear. Not to become insensitive to distinguished critics but to follow my own writer’s instinct despite what they say women should or should not write. My job is not to paralyze myself by anticipating judgment but to do the best I can and let the judgment fall where it may.
“The difference between the woman who is writing this essay and the girl sitting in that creative writing class in 1961 is mostly a matter of nerve and daring — the nerve to trust my own instincts and the daring to be a fool. No one ever found wisdom without being a fool. Writers, alas, have to be fools in public, while the rest of the human race can cover its tracks. But it also painfully true that no one avoids being a fool without also avoiding growth, and growth does not, alas, stop with the current feminist vision of reality. It goes far beyond it.”
“When I look back on the years since I left college, and I try to sum up what I have learned, it is precisely that: not to fear change, not to expect my life to be immutable. All the good things that have happened to me in the last several years have come, without exception, from a willingness to change, to risk the unknown, to do the very things I feared the most.
“Every poem, every page of fiction I have written has been with anxiety, occasionally panic, always uncertainty about is reception. Every life decision I have made — from changing jobs, to changing partners, to changing homes — has been taken with trepidation. I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me. I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in my heart that says: turn back, turn back, you’ll die if you venture too far.”