Margaret Atwood interview with The Paris Review, 1990
Yet you write as if you’ve lived through violence.
But I write as if I’ve lived a lot of things I haven’t lived. I’ve never lived with cancer. I’ve never been fat. I have different sensibilities. In my critical work I’m an eighteenth-century rationalist of some kind. In my poetry I’m not at all. There’s no way of knowing in advance what will get into your work. One collects all the shiny objects that catch the fancy—a great array of them. Some of them you think are utterly useless. I have a large collection of curios of that kind, and every once in a while I need one of them. They’re in my head, but who knows where! It’s such a jumble in there. It’s hard to find anything.
Read the entire interview at The Art of Fiction no. 121.