Every time I step onto an airplane, I turn to the right and take a good, hard stare into the maw of the engine. I don't know what I'm looking for. I just do it.
Stop a minute, right where you are. Relax your shoulders, shake your head and spine like a dog shaking off cold water. Tell that imperious voice in your head to be still.
There's always a part of your nation's history that you haven't been told that... has a powerful impact on how you yourself may behave and may believe.
You always need that spark of imagination. Sometimes I'm midway through a book before it happens. However, I don't wait for the muse to descend, I sit down every day and I work when I'm not delivering lambs on the farm.
Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness. It's the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost. And that someone else's pain is as meaningful as your own.
The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.
People's dreams are made out of what they do all day. The same way a dog that runs after rabbits will dream of rabbits. It's what you do that makes your soul, not the other way around.
To be hopeful, to embrace one possibility after another that is surely the basic instinct - crying out: High tide! Time to move out into the glorious debris. Time to take this life for what it is!
I live in southern Appalachia, so I'm surrounded by people who work very hard for barely a living wage. It's particularly painful that people are working the farms their parents and grandparents worked but aren't living nearly as well.
It's a funny thing: people often ask how I discipline myself to write. I can't begin to understand the question. For me, the discipline is turning off the computer and leaving my desk to do something else.
I love developing children as characters. Children rarely have important roles in literary fiction - they are usually defined as cute or precious, or they create a plot by being kidnapped or dying.
Motherhood is so sentimentalised and romanticised in our culture. It's practically against the law to say there are moments in the day when you hate your children. Everyone actually has those moments.
I think the most interesting parts of human experience might be the sparks that come from that sort of chipping flint of cultures rubbing against each other. And living on the border between Mexico and the U.S. for so many years gave me a lot of insight into that.
I've always seen the world through the eyes of a scientist. I love the predictable outcomes that science gives us, the control over the world that that can render.
After 'The Poisonwood Bible' was published, several people believed that my parents were missionaries, which could not be further from the truth.
I think the most interesting parts of human experience might be the sparks that come from that sort of chipping flint of cultures rubbing against each other.
Southern Appalachians have been ridiculed since the country began. In fiction, they're usually depicted in a cartoonish manner. The region is poor, and very suspicious of outsiders, so there's a sort of 'us versus them' situation. They're easy to poke fun at.
When people are frightened about going hungry and paying their mortgages, a scarcity model begins to prevail; they fear someone else will get their piece of the pie.
The important thing isn't the house. It's the ability to make it. You carry that in your brains and in your hands, wherever you go... It's one thing to carry your life wherever you go. Another thing to always go looking for it somewhere else.
I can count all the ways in which being a mother has enriched my understanding of the world, of character, my sense of the future and my attachment to it. I can't imagine what kind of writer I'd be if I didn't have my kids.