I used to want to be a backup singer. Not a lead singer, because I really can't sing.
For me, writing isn't a way of being public or private; it's just a way of being. The process is always full of pain, but I like that. It's a reality, and I just accept it as something not to be avoided.
I come from a little island with the Caribbean Sea on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. I come from, really, nowhere, and for me, the fiction and the nonfiction, creative or otherwise, all come from the same place.
I have a sense of destiny because of my mother, who was an extraordinary person but a terrible candidate for mother. She was like the god Cronus, who gave birth to his children in the morning and then ate them at night.
At the time I was taught to read, it was an Eden-like time of my life. My mother adored me. Everyone adored me. So I associate reading with enormous pleasure.
The garden has taught me to live, to appreciate the times when things are fallow and when they're not.
When I write nonfiction, it's always absolutely true. There will be no moment in my nonfiction where I have made something up and have to apologize to the bullying hostess of a talk show.
I can write anywhere. I actually wrote more than I ever did when I had small children. My children were never a hindrance.
I have a photograph of myself when I was 2 years of age, and I don't recognize the person in the photograph. She doesn't look anything like me, and I can't find any trace of her in me physically. And yet I remember her very, very well - even her anxiety.
I have no credentials. I have no money. I literally come from a poor place. I was a servant. I dropped out of college. The next thing you know I'm writing for the 'New Yorker,' I have this sort of life, and it must seem annoying to people.
People only say I'm angry because I'm black and I'm a woman. But all sorts of people write with strong feeling, the way I do.
I suppose you could say I love outlaw American culture.
I like to be in my pajamas all day. Sometimes I don't wash for days because I like to read and sit around. I like to eat in bed.
One doesn't have to pursue unhappiness. It comes to you. You come into the world screaming. You cry when you're born because your lungs expand. You breathe. I think that's really kind of significant. You come into the world crying, and it's a sign that you're alive.
I think life is difficult and that's that. I am not at all - absolutely not at all - interested in the pursuit of happiness. I am not interested in the pursuit of positivity. I am interested in pursuing a truth, and the truth often seems to be not happiness but its opposite.
I like melancholy. I like to pretend that I'm alone in the world and I'm just sort of abandoned.