"You write in order to change the world, knowing perfectly well that you probably can’t, but also knowing that literature is indispensable to the world. The world changes according to the way people see it, and if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it." —James Baldwin
"Writing is really a way of thinking—not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.” —Toni Morrison
"The purpose of any piece of writing is its existence before a reader’s eyes. A writer exists when she fills the blank page. A writer fulfills her task when she can be read by readers. The important thing is to write." —Nancy Morejón
"The ability to use language to effective ends, to have somebody read something and see it, or for somebody to paint an entire landscape of visual imagery with just sheets of words—that’s magical." — Yasiin Bey (Mos Def)
"By and large, the critics and readers gave me an affirmed sense of my identity as a writer. You might know this within yourself, but to have it affirmed by others is of utmost importance. Writing is, after all, a form of communication." —Ralph Ellison
"The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart." —Maya Angelou
Leslie Jamison, “The Empathy Exams”
Empathy isn’t just something that happens to us—a meteor shower of synapses firing across the brain—it’s also a choice we make: to pay attention, to extend ourselves. It’s made of exertion, that dowdier cousin of impulse. Sometimes we care for another because we know we should, or because it’s asked for, but this doesn’t make our caring hollow. The act of choosing simply means we’ve committed ourselves to a set of behaviors greater than the sum of our individual inclinations: I will listen to his sadness, even when I’m deep in my own. To say ‘going through the motions’—this isn’t reduction so much as acknowledgment of the effort—the labor, the motions, the dance—of getting inside another person’s state of heart or mind.
This confession of effort chafes against the notion that empathy should always arise unbidden, that genuine means the same thing as unwilled, that intentionality is the enemy of love. But I believe in intention and I believe in work. I believe in waking up in the middle of the night and packing our bags and leaving our worst selves for our better ones.
There is a certain embarrassment about being a storyteller in these times when stories are considered not quite as satisfying as statements and statements not quite as satisfying as statistics; but in the long run, a people is known, not by its statements or its statistics, but by the stories it tells.Flannery O’Connor