When we look back, the only things we cherish are those which in some way met our original want; the desire which formed in us in early youth, undirected, and of its own accord.
— Willa Cather
Sometimes I wonder why God ever trusts talent in the hands of women, they usually make such an infernal mess of it. I think He must do it as a sort of ghastly joke.
Desire is creation, is the magical element in that process. If there were an instrument by which to measure desire, one could foretell achievement.
Every artist makes himself born. It is very much harder than the other time, and longer.
To note an artist's limitations is but to define his talent. A reporter can write equally well about everything that is presented to his view, but a creative writer can do his best only with what lies within the range and character of his deepest sympathies.
There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.
No one can build his security upon the nobleness of another person.
The condition every art requires is, not so much freedom from restriction, as freedom from adulteration and from the intrusion of foreign matter.
Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.
I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived.
Some memories are realities, and are better than anything that can ever happen to one again.
There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.
Of all the bewildering things about a new country, the absence of human landmarks is one of the most depressing and disheartening.
All the intelligence and talent in the world can't make a singer. The voice is a wild thing. It can't be bred in captivity. It is a sport, like the silver fox. It happens.
It does not matter much whom we live with in this world, but it matters a great deal whom we dream of.
Sometimes a neighbor whom we have disliked a lifetime for his arrogance and conceit lets fall a single commonplace remark that shows us another side, another man, really; a man uncertain, and puzzled, and in the dark like ourselves.
Give the people a new word and they think they have a new fact.
The miracles of the church seem to me to rest not so much upon faces or voices or healing power coming suddenly near to us from afar off, but upon our perceptions being made finer, so that for a moment our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is there about us always.
The dead might as well try to speak to the living as the old to the young.
The stupid believe that to be truthful is easy; only the artist, the great artist, knows how difficult it is.
The heart of another is a dark forest, always, no matter how close it has been to one's own.
What was any art but a mould in which to imprison for a moment the shining elusive element which is life itself - life hurrying past us and running away, too strong to stop, too sweet to lose.
Where there is great love, there are always wishes.
A work-room should be like an old shoe; no matter how shabby, it's better than a new one.
The thing that teases the mind over and over for years, and at last gets itself put down rightly on paper whether little or great, it belongs to Literature.
Paris is a hard place to leave, even when it rains incessantly and one coughs continually from the dampness.
That is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great.
Winter lies too long in country towns; hangs on until it is stale and shabby, old and sullen.
The sun was like a great visiting presence that stimulated and took its due from all animal energy. When it flung wide its cloak and stepped down over the edge of the fields at evening, it left behind it a spent and exhausted world.
The irregular and intimate quality of things made entirely by the human hand.
When kindness has left people, even for a few moments, we become afraid of them as if their reason had left them. When it has left a place where we have always found it, it is like shipwreck; we drop from security into something malevolent and bottomless.
I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
Only solitary men know the full joys of friendship. Others have their family; but to a solitary and an exile, his friends are everything.
The fact that I was a girl never damaged my ambitions to be a pope or an emperor.