Jennifer Egan Best Quotes 💬

Jennifer Egan’s writings are so naturally structured that they touch on aspects of life such as family, love, hope, personal struggles, death, etcetera. Her book quotes are the best places for readers to find solace and inspiration for their personal battles and trials.

Jennifer Egan

American Novelist

Beyond her book quotes, Egan has also given out interviews to several top news publishers in the US and the UK – like The New York Times, LA Times, and The Guardian UK among others, as they try what makes Egan, well, so Egan. One thing that is constant in these media dates is the quality of the response from the author. In this article, the best quotes from Jennifer Egan – those from her interviews and books – have been analyzed.

Egan’s Quote on Writing

Being an A-list novelist whose books have racked up several prestigious awards, Jennifer Egan is surely a credible voice everyone – especially writing aspirants – should listen to when the subject is about writing and the art of it. 

We have rounded up and discussed her best quotes, excerpts, and advice on the writing process as it applies to the author herself.

There’s no Perfect Time to Write 

I’m almost never in the right mood…

Let’s start with this one where Egan was talking about writing and when is the right time to pick up a pen or start typing into that draft. 

There are a lot of young people who have that genuine passion and writing talent to go all the way but just can’t quite find their moment because they’re waiting to be in the perfect place and time to start.  

Egan is telling you to start now! Because you just may never find that right mood, time, and place. The author may joke around but when it comes to her writing business, she’s pretty mean and disciplined about it, and would write up to six pages a day as a habit.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail at the First Trial 

Because you can’t write habitually and well all the time, you have to be willing to write badly. That’s how you get the regularity that enables you to be present for the good stuff.

One of the biggest reasons many writers never truly have much written down is because they want everything – the idea, the setting, the characters, everything – to be perfect.

If there was a scale of ten, nine out of the ten are not habitual writers – and by extension are not consistent. And without consistency, there won’t be a desired result, and this goes beyond writing to as far as every other endeavor. 

With this quote, Jennifer Egan challenges her readers to start immediately. Try. Fail. Get up and try again Because that’s how you get the ‘good stuff’ out and right.

Workouts Can Aid the Writing Process 

Exercise is a good analogy. I never feel like going to the gym, but I’m always glad to have gone.

One can never go wrong with exercising. Not only are there tons of health benefits pinned to it but there is also now (based on this quote by Egan) the potential of it revitalizing your body and mind to set you in the right mood to be creative and write. 

If you ever tried starting your day with light exercising such as counting 10 to 20 push-ups, or running 30 to 50 paces on a treadmill, then you can agree with Egan on this, because such act helps you kick off your day’s activities in the most active way possible and sweeps out lassitude for the day.

Quotes on Research 

Research is a fundamental instrument in Jennifer Egan’s entire body of work, and the author has always incorporated this aspect from the get-go (her first book ‘The Invincible Circus’ 1994) up until her most recent work (in ‘The Candy House’). 

And because research means so much to her and her work, she certainly has a few caveats on the subject and they’ve been outlined below.

Don’t Include Everything

Initially, you think everything is interesting and deserves a place in your book…You need time for the spell of the details to wear off.

Research can be overwhelming. And when one is caught in the thick of it, it can be hard to let go of a single piece of data – even when they’re not nearly as relevant to your work as it should be. 

Such is the caveat Egan is trying to bring to light here. However, Egan admitted she fell for this trap with her book ‘Manhattan Beach,’ by revealing that one of her biggest mistakes was hastily publishing the book without giving it extra five or six months of review and edits.

Talk to Relevant People 

There’s a difference between is plausible and seems plausible.

Interviewing people who are directly or indirectly connected to your writing is a very vital instrument of research and so should not be taken for granted at any point. Jennifer Egan incorporated this in her work, notably in ‘Manhattan Beach.’ 

Because one of her major characters Anna Kerrigan is going to be a navy diver (the first female of her kind), Egan went and interviewed real world navy diver to get an idea on how to develop Anna’s character. Apart from ‘Manhattan Beach,’ the author has used the interview method for her other notable works.

It is Never Conclusive

You can research until you’re falling asleep, but that still doesn’t mean you’re really fluent in the material.

Research is never ending, so you never say you’ve had one too many: there’s always something more you still haven’t explored which potentially makes the story even better than it already is. 

That is the essence of this Egan’s quote, to let you know how fundamental research is to your writing – and at every stage. There are so many forms that research can come in and the interview as mentioned above is just one of them. Other notable ways to incorporate research can be by poring over books and library documents about your subject or traveling to specific sites to get a true feel of the environment.

Quotes About Family 

As much as she values her work, Egan is a very family person and she invests a lot of time in it. As a child, she had the unfortunate experience of watching her parents split because they couldn’t manage their differences, and this forced her into being adopted twice. 

She’s currently married to David Herskovits (both tied the knot in 1994) and together have two sons – Manu and Raoul. The early stages of her marriage were particularly challenging, especially because she struggled with balancing work time with family time. Let’s explore some of Egan’s unique quotes on family.

Juggling Family and Career 

When I first had a child, I really had a hard time trying to figure out how it was all going to fit together. Because I felt like, when I was with him, I wanted to be writing …

To be fair, dealing with the responsibility of running a family and combining them with work is a certified world problem, and most adults deal with this, not only Egan and her writing counterparts. 

Egan, with this quote, just told us about her experience. It’s hard. We can agree with her. However, the thing with Egan that sets her apart from other writers is her willingness and discipline to just write stuff every single day – whether feeling it or not. 

Just to digress a little. Madeleine L’Engle, another iconic, A-list writer who racked up multiple awards during her days took nearly ten years of hiatus and almost quit writing after the stress of family life came crashing with her work life at hurricane-level speed.

On the Struggles of Being a Stepchild

I was a stepchild in two different families. The hardest thing about being a stepchild is you know that in some way everything would be easier if you didn’t exist.

Even though her story is far from being the saddest for authors, Jennifer Egan had some very remarkably unfortunate moments during her childhood. 

The whole thing started with her parent’s divorce when she was only two years old. From there started an unsettling journey for her, as there were constant moves with her mother (remarrying) and into new homes with new dad figures and a whole new set of people as siblings and relatives. It’s safe to assume that she never quite fit into these homes, but to her that was no excuse to not succeed in life.

Other Inspiring Quotes from Jennifer Egan 

Jennifer Egan also has an oversupply of quotes that don’t quite fall within the above-listed categories of family, research, and writing, but are also very poignant and deserve to be mentioned here.

It’s Okay to Have a Change of Dream

When I was little, I wanted to be a doctor. I was really interested in gore. My grandfather was an orthopedic surgeon and he had a lot of books in his library that I would just pore over…

A lot of times people might see changes of dreams and aspirations at certain points in their life as a sign that one is a ‘Loser’ who so cowardly can not focus on one thing and run through with it. But it’s not always the case. 

Because it is quite common for people to transfer their passion and love from one dream discipline into another – and the shocker is, nearly all would-be powerful and influential people probably passed through this. 

Egan had her fair share of swapping dreams for dreams at the cause of her coming of age. From doctor to archeologist to fashion model to music journalist: writing novels was probably the last item on her list of dreams, but we know the whole story.


Is Jennifer Egan quote worthy?

Egan is not only a brilliant novelist whose book quotes are insightful and inspiring, but she’s also a great public speaker and a figure whose voice is a major force, especially in the literary world.

What is a great quote from Jennifer Egan?

Jennifer Egan is a source of several great quotes that it’s hard to pick the best from, however, this quote here might hint at just how much quality her sayings are:
“There are so many ways to go wrong. All we’ve got are metaphors, and they’re never exactly right. You can never just Say. The. Thing.”

What does Jennifer Egan say about reading and writing?

Egan’s advice for budding writers who want to become as good as she is is to ‘read at the level at which you want to write. Reading is the nourishment that feeds the kind of writing you want to do.’

What is Egan’s opinion on research?

Research is paramount to Egan’s literary career and she incorporates a good dose of it for every book. The author believes there’s no such thing as too much research.

Victor Onuorah
About Victor Onuorah
Victor is as much a prolific writer as he is an avid reader. With a degree in Journalism, he goes around scouring literary storehouses and archives; picking up, dusting the dirt off, and leaving clean even the most crooked pieces of literature all with the skill of analysis.
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