NBR: You are a writer, teacher, political activist, wife, motherhow do you manage so much?
Paley: I remember somebody once asking that and I gave my usual wise-guy remark: pure neglect. You know, something like that. But really, I think that any life thats interesting, lived, has a lot of pulls in it. It seems to me natural that Id be pulled in those ways. When youve got children, you dont want to just hand them over to somebody. Its interesting how children grow and you deprive yourself if you give too much of it away. I dont mean that you dont want to be free, you do, you want all that. But thats again a pull, youre pulled, and its only one life for Christs sake. And you are privileged somehow to do as much as you can. I wouldnt give any of it up. And Ive talked a lot about this with womens groups because I think that in whatever is gained, that everything, that the world should be gained. But that nothing should be given up. I think a good hard greed is the way to approach life. (Laughter).
NBR: Do you think thats possible for women with small children?
Paley: I remember talking about this at a womens symposium in Bryn Mawr to women who were earnestly wanting to write or to do other things, all sorts of things, and then their children were holding them back, and what they owed their children. Well, you know, the whole ideaand this is really where the womens movement is very sharp and really goodbut this really has been put over on them, this idea that thats a profession, taking care of children, and that you have to do it perfectly: you have to get them to the right school, and you have to get them to the right nursery school. Well, you dont. First of all, you fool yourself if you think that youre so goddamn important, you know? Youre just not that important. Youre important, but the world is bringing them up and insofar as the world is bringing them upso that if you have a boy, hes liable to be sent off and murdered in Africa or someplace like that you better pay attention to the world too. Its all related. That is not a profession for grown-up people, to bring up one child, its a joke. Thats part of your life, but not big specialization. So those are the pulls, but theyre just life.
NBR: Do you feel some conflict between political activities and writingthat you should be out doing instead of writing?
Paley: No, I dont think its that so much.
NBR: I was wondering what political activities youre involved in now?
Paley: Since the war Im not so narrowly focused, if you want to call it that. But things that concern me very much stillfirst of all, I still think a lot about Vietnam. I was there in 69, in Hanoi, and also I traveled through all of the North from the DMZ, and so I saw an awful lot of it and I felt the people very much. I was at that time very involved in dealing with American POWs. I dont think in my life Ill ever get over those concerns and the injustice of the United States not simply acting out its responsibilities to Vietnam. Those things are not over for me. And the question of amnesty...theyre related. But Im not as activeI act when Im called upon. I guess I began to think of myself as more of a pacifist, which is sort of funny when you think that I was very strongly on the side of the really very fierce North Vietnamese and Vietcong. But still, I think disarmament is a tremendously important issue. So Im really responding in many ways. I still work with the War Resisters League and with Resist, which operates out of Boston.
NBR: Have you taken a leave of absence to work on something specific?
Paley: Well, I took a leave of absence to work....naturally on some things. I had a very hard working year at school and other things last year, so I think it was hard for me to work at all. I just get very involved with school and with the kids, with the life of whatever Im doing, so thats what suffers, the writing generally suffers. So Im taking a leave and I expect to do a lot of work. I have a lot of stuff in mind, I have a lot of material half and three-quarters done, one third-done.
Paley: I never know, you know. Yeah. Well, certainly at least for that, lets put it that way. Maybe for something longer.
NBR: Are you thinking you might write a novel?
Paley: If it turns out to be a novel, then I will have wanted to write a novel. (Laughter). But if it turns out to be stories, itll turn out that thats what I wanted to do.
NBR: Do you think that a novel could do something that stories couldnt?
Paley: Well, I wouldnt want to put it that way because I really am in love with the form, the story form, so I cant say the novel will do something a short story cant. I would just say they probably do something different. And Ive never been really clear about it. Every now and then, I get an illumination of what one does that the other doesnt, and if Im in a classroom, its lucky, then I can say it to a lot of people. But then it sort of blurs for me... For me, somehow, the short story is very close to the poem in feeling and not so close in feeling to the novel, although its about the same people that a novel would be about . But what it tries to say is the poem of those lives.
NBR: Have you written poetry?
Paley: I always did, yes. I wrote poetry until I wrote fiction, which wasnt till I was past thirty.
NBR: Do you still write poetry?
Paley: Yeah, pretty much. I go through periods of writing a lot and then I dont for a few months and then I write a lot again. Im not such a hot poet, soI mean, Im good enough, but it serves me more than I serve it. I keep my language hand in or something like that.
NBR: Were you able to write when your children were small?
Paley: I guess I must have. I always wrote poetry. You cant really go by me on that stuff because Ive never really been that ambitious...in that sense. I mean, I had some deeper ambition, lets put it that way, but none that would really permit me to run away, or try to wipe out other parts of my life. I think it was very hard when my kids were small, and in those days we were really very poor, so it was hard. I guess when I began to write fiction they must have been in nursery school or in school. When you have babies, if you have a few of them, its pretty goddamn hard. You have to be pretty fussy also about the person you live with, man or woman or whatever. Whoever your adult partner is, youd better be pretty picky because youre in trouble otherwise. If youre living with someone who says, I want my supper at five-thirty and none of this crap, and put the children over there, and whys that child crying? smack him!if you live with someone whose attitude that is, its very hard. I think most people require very regular hours to work.
NBR: Do you work systematically? Do you write some each day?
Paley: I try to.
NBR: How do you feel about teaching writing? Do you feel its something you can teach?
Paley? Yeah, well, you can only teach learners. You cant teach any subject to anybody who isnt there to want to know. And you have to begin with workthe work is the work. And if theyre working, you can just sit down and talk with people. Mostly I like people to develop in the class a community among themselves. What I try to develop is that sense of people paying attention to one anothers work because this is part of paying attention to the world, which is what I think a writer must do. If they can only hear their own voice, it doesnt mean they cant write, it just means Im not interested, you know? You dont have to be interested in every kind of writing, and Im really not interested in the person who only hears her or his own voice. They can go off and whistle to themselves for the next fifty years, I dont care, its nothing to me. What Im interested in working withbecause as a writer, as a literary person in a sense, naturally I have certain ideas about the way I want literature to gowell, I really want it to go in some way back to hearing people and giving it back to them. Back to attentionto others, really, and away from the private, single voice.
NBR: Whom do you like to read, past or present?
Paley: Well, my favorite writer, the writer that I loved the most for a long time, was Isaak Babel. First of all, I was doing short stories then I began to read himI hadnt read himand I felt, Oh my, its just what I want to do. Hes really writing about things he doesnt exactly know and yet hes trying to understand, hes using writing to try to understand the world and thats what I want to do. And thats what I do. I write about things I dont know all that well just to try and understand them. The act of writing is an investigative, learning act.
NBR: Yes, in an article that appeared in Ms.several years ago, you mentioned learning about people by taking their voice.
Paley: Yes, well, I did that to begin with when I first began to write. I did that alot. I guess I have done that, more even than I know, thinking about it.
NBR: You use a lot of voices. It does seem as though you already know, as though the learning process has already happened.
Paley: Right. But its not true. It really hasnt. In one of the first stories, which Ive read lately, the first story in my first book which Ive been reading aloudafter years of not "Goodbye and Good Luck," its a lot of fun to read. And people called me up and said, You know a lot about the Yiddish theater and all that. And you know, I dont know the first goddamn thing about it. I just learned with her, in a sense, I learned with Rose who is telling the story. As she learned, I learned. I met an actor much like that guy and talked to him and with her I learned a little bit about it. And a couple of Irish stories were from my whole life on 15th Street, when I lived over there in that building, and I learned about those characters. Thats how I learned, by trying to be them in some way. I think thats what happened, Im not sure.
NBR: Does a story go through a lot of drafts?
Paley: Well, it could. Some stories Ive done very fast. Some of the very short ones, I think about it a lot and then I write it. But most of them take a long, long time.
NBR: Was "Wants" done quickly?
Paley: Yes, I wrote "Wants" very quickly. That was done quickly, and a couple of others. Theres one story, "The Immigrant Story," of which Id written one page, the first page of the story, and I put it asideas they say in recipes, "reserve." And Id been thinking a lot about the subject of the story because it had happened when I was a young woman. I was sitting with this guy and talkingI knew him very well, I knew his parents very welland hed been telling me how disgusted he was with his mother. And Id always been very angry at him from the time I was about 22 on, I was furious with him, but I didnt know why and I didnt know how to deal with it. Because I knew them, and they were very sad people. I really thought about it twenty-five, twenty-eight years, and one day I was reading this first page Id written"reserve"and I realized that it was very related to what was on my mind. And then I was able to write that story.
NBR: In one of your stories you say, "There is a long time in me between knowing and telling." Do you have some clue as to the process in yourself, what happens for a story to get told?
Paley: Well, I think all art, all these stories that people write, happen when two amazing facts come together in some way, or two amazing events, or two amazing winds, or whatever it is, come and the surprise of this meeting is the story. And you can just really sit around a long timeI mean, I can. Not everybody else has to do it. A lot of people can just go (snaps fingers).
NBR: You dont feel pressure though? Do you have the sense of needing to have this click?
Paley: Well, sometimes I do, I really do. If Im very close to finishing or if I have five pages of something, it really is annoying. I have a story now that as far as some people are concerned, its finished. Its four pages, its a very small story. And I finished it about eight months ago, the four pages. I read it to my class. A lot of people think its finished. I know that its not finished, you know? So I havent sent it out. I know its not finished and I know theres more to be said on this subject, and that if I send it out, I wont do it. and I dont seem to have that kind of pressureto appear or not to appear, to publish or not to publish.
NBR: The outside pressure. I was also wondering about the inside pressure.
Paley: I do, I have that damn inside pressure about this thing. I mean, Im not dying of it, but I really spent a lot of time on these lousy four ages, thinking about what comes next and what to do. I had that experience with another story. Its called "The Burdened Man," in the second book. It begins with "The man has the burden of the money. Its needed day after day..." Well, I wrote two or three pages, I liked them, I thought, oh well, its done, I have a cute little story. But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized its not done at all, but what comes after is different, that is the form will be different. Well, it was six more pages that finally came after and then it was done, then I knew. So I have the same problem with these four pages.
What you develop in time about-certain problems, not the real enormous ones but certain everyday problemsproblems in writing, whether you get to the grocery or not, will you make dinneryou get confidence. I mean, I know that Ill work out those four pages at some point. So Im not dying. But its got to be right. And I havent got it right yet, I just know it. So Im not going to do anything with it. Read it to a couple of people, see if I can get the end, if something they say will illuminate the whole thing. Which is not likely. Its possible.
NBR: Can you work on other things in the meantime?
Paley: Yes, I can. Which a lot of people cant. My husband cant. When hes stuck, he walks around as though he really has something gnawing at his vitals. But I can. I dont know that its good, but I can. I think pushingfor me, pushing my head just makes my head very stubborn. It just pushes right back. Not today, Jack. Im doing something else. Im out. Im out walking.
NBR: Do you usually read to people what youre writing?
Paley: No, I usually dont read until Im really done, until Im as finished as I can be. I dont like to. As a young woman and as a kid, by the time I was 15, I never read anything to anyone unless I felt it was as good as I could get it. And sometimes I felt hardly anything was as good as I could get it. I didnt read it.
NBR: Do you have trouble letting go of a story or do really get a sense, this is finished?
Paley: Well, Ill go over it. Lets say I think Im finished, and somebody says, Send us a story. Ill go over it and as long as I can find something wrong with it, Ill keep it. I will. But its not that I cant let go of it. Something Ill sometimes do with a class is to show them a first draft, to show them how bad it is. Thats one of the things about teaching writing, kids will have their work and theyll show it to you and youll say, Well, I like what youre doing, I like your approach, I like your language, but you know, this guys all wrong. I think this person must be thirty-two, not sixty-five. And a student will take that as, well, the storys no good. And they havent even done any work on it. They havent even gone through the problems. So I like to show them a draft which is really pretty fucked up because I also have screwed up in the beginning because the person which I want to be sixty-five is acting like hes thirty-two. Or do I want them to do that? Or is the language correct? You know, the language is so important. Keeping it clean, in a way. Your first draft will sometimes tend to have a lot of adjectives you dont want, you should take those out. Its work, its all work. I think a lot of writers get to love that, that work, they get to love that honing because its quite a beautiful thing once you really get into it. Youre done almost, you have it, and now youre making it really beautiful.
NBR: A lot of kids think a story comes out right the first time.
Paley: Right, and they should be encouraged to know that everybody is as rotten as they are. I think more people would do really beautiful work if they realized how much work was involved. Their work would begin to shine and theyd be surprised. The thing is that your language at some point in your life is clear and simple and truthful, and if you wrote it down, it would be beautifulbeautys truth, truths beauty, I always say that thats true (laughter)but what happens is that most people, most middle-class people especially, go to school and their language is immediately spoiled, if their parents havent already spoiled it for them. The written language is immediately taken away from the spoken language. But if people dont go too far away from their own true language, they can really write. But mostly people do. And then its a question of going back. Thats why childrens writing is so often so beautiful, because its so close to their own true tongues. On the other hand, its very boring because they have no experience in life. Who cares what this five-year-olds got to say, right?
NBR: Were you a storyteller as a child?
Paley: Well, I was a cross between talking an awful lot and being very quiet. Muriel Rukeyser has said that most writers when they were little girls sat under the piano listening to the grownups talk, and its true. I talked a lot, Im not trying to say I didnt, but I was absolutely entranced by stories and by family conversation. And I was the youngest. And the mystery of it all, it used to set me trembling, you know, the mystery of life, this life I was going to lead one day. And I listened a lot. And I listened in the street a lot, in our Bronx neighborhood. I wrote an article for Esquire , they called it "Mom"I didnt call it "Mom," I called it "Other Mothers," and I did listen a lot. But I think a lot also. I think that for a lot of womenwho really like being women what you miss was boyhood in a way, all the freedom and the excitement of boyhood. So for a lot of girls, you would try to have that life too. You try to invent some kind of risky, boyhood life for your girlhoodwhich creates imagination, which means imagination. Thats what my little four page story is about, these two little girls sitting and talking to each other. One of them says, Dont you want to be a soldier? And the other one says, No. (Laughter). But its an argument between two little girls, or parts of one girl, whatever.
NBR: Did your father tell stories a lot?
Paley: Yeah, my father... He meant a lot to me. Yes, he was a storyteller, he really told stories at the table, he was the grand storyteller. He was a doctor, he had a very large neighborhood practice. But he retired when he was about sixty and thats pretty young, and he became a painter and he wrote a lot of stories. Some of them were really marvelous. But he really was sort of the grand humorist patriarch storyteller of the family. The head of the whole family. A very witty man.
NBR: Is "A Conversation With My Father" autobiographical?
Paley: Yeah, its not that it happened, but that it could have
happened. And parts of it did. Its close to what happened. It
really is the body of our running argument on art and the possibilities
NBR: What about your mother?
Paley: My mother died when I was about 22 or so, so shes been
dead a long time. My mother got sick when I was in my teens. And I had
terrible differences with her. She was a very puritanical woman. But
she was very fine, she was a first-class person. My sister suffered
with her through my really mean adolescence. I just wouldnt recognize
what was happening to her. So thats a pain to me, that I never
really dealt with that. But I was with her the last few months before
she died. I havent really dealt much...enough...with my mother.
They were both very political people. They were both exiled. My
father was sent to Siberia when he was about nineteen or twenty, and
she was exiled to Germany. And then everybody under 21 was pardoned.
And so they came back, and they married and came here immediately, as
soon as they could.
NBR: Did they continue being political?
Paley: Well, they didnt. My feeling is that the struggle here
was intense and hard, it was awful. They dont think of it that
way because after all they werent sent to prison or anything.
Their struggle was to really be Americans, the typical Russian-Jewish
operationhe should go to school, he should be a doctor, the children
should all go to school, they should all become something, and all the
little branches of the family should be cared foran act of family
service. Thats what they did. Coming here at twenty, twenty-one,
learning the language, going to medical school, reading absolutely everything
you could think of in the English language...it took up life. Used it
NBR: Have you based your characters on your family?
Paley: Well, parts of it have come into it, where you see sisters and
relatives. But I havent done a lot of it.
NBR: Are the characters based in general on people youve known.
Paley: Some of them are. Some of them are based on people Ive
known very well, but a lot of them are just invented.
NBR: Sometimes I get the feeling you and I must have ridden the same
subway and heard the same conversation. Do you do that, do you take
snatches of things you hear in the street?
Paley: Yeah, sometimes its just the right remark somebodys
NBR: Do you see New York as a character in your work?
Paley: Well, why not? I believe in place, that place is really important.
I believe that people are from someplace and that thats an element.
Thats another thing that students do, theyll write out into
the air as though nobody came from anywhere, or as though we all came
from that announcers voice that we used to hear on the radio which
never came from anywhere. They try to write literature that way. And
it cant be done. Everybody comes from someplace, earns a living
somehow. I have a lot of feeling about New York, but its not that
its the only place in the world. Its my hometown, its
NBR: Does it provide special challenges?
Paley: Oh, I think every place does. Listen, I was in western Michigan
and a guy said to me, It seems so interesting to me where you come from
and you have something to write about; here I live on this farm and
you know, theres nothing. So I said to him, My God, do you know
whats going on in the agricultural world these days? The farms
that are being wiped out? The people that are being kicked around? I
got so excited about the cows, the farms. I said, Id write about
it, if I was there, thats just what Id write about. My God,
seasons! Jesus, I never see a season. (Laughter).
NBR: Do you think its a question of energy?
Paley: Well, you know, you write about problems, and if hes as
content as anything, and if he doesnt see a single problem on
his farm, well then theres nothing interesting to him to write
NBR: Do you think that New York provides special themes of survival,
of how to overcome all the obstacles that are placed before people?
Paley: Yeah, but I think that exists everywhere. I really dont
think its special. Thats what Im interested in. Im
interested in the energy of people and survival and overcoming and all
of that, and fighting back. And the way they do it, and they do it in
different ways. In some ways, it doesnt seem as though they have
really fought back. But in general they do. But thats true everywhere.
I really mean it when I think about farms. Im in Vermont a lot
now and I see the life of the people there which I could never overcome,
NBR: Whos failed, among your characters?
Paley: Well, I dont know whos failed. Ill tell you,
looking historically at things, like the story "An Interest in
Life," if I were writing about Ginny today, I think she would have
done different things. I think she might have. I dont know if
Im just doing something I didnt do with her. I did not impose
my feelings, my own life on her, and it may be that she just would get
the hell off the block and go somewhere else, maybe shed leave
the kids. Im just trying to think if she were twenty-six now,
where she was twenty-six twenty years ago, maybe what shed do
is just dump the kids on the old lady, or someplace. She might have
done any number of other things. Which is no goddamn...which might not
be a solution in twenty years from now. But what she did was right for
her then and its probably right for lots of women now.
NBR: In a way Ginny has the ability to flow with life. Do you see the
ability to flow with life as a virtue or a failing?
Paley: Well, there we are. Now we talk as women to one another in another
way. If you have four children, as she doessince I saddled her
with those four children, I gave her a hard life (laughter)shes
very young, she has four children, right? But she has a lover, she was
a lively sort of girl in her neighborhood, she still lives in her own
neighborhood. She livesin a funny way, she lives pretty much as
she wants to. In terms of her own life, shes not really flowing
with people in that building. They dont think too much of her.
She talks about how they dont talk to her anymore. And shes
really, really pretty isolated in a funny sort of way. Shes not
exactly flowing with things. But shes not about to dump the kids,
shes worried to death about them. And what shes decided
to do is use this guy. Thats really what it amounts to. She doesnt
want to be alone, hes helpful to her, he comes around, he makes
her life more interesting. Shes allowed herself to have her kids
a little cared for until something better happens, which she hopes will
be the return of her husband obviously. Which she knows wont be
so hot either. So I dont think its a virtue. I think you
do both all the time. You have to. There are extraordinary and outstanding
people. Emma Goldman never flowed for a second. But those are great
lives. Im not even interested in those lives. They exist and they
have autobiographies and theyre all heroes, heroines. But Im
really more interested in how people live everyday. And I always was.
Even as a kid, it wasnt to big stories of heroism that I listened
but to the everyday people on my block more than anything else. Since
I thought of my father and mother as somewhat heroic in their early
years, what interested me tremendously was how this whole other world
of people living every day, how they lived their lives. I think most
people are heroic to a degree, theyre heroic in caring for the
lives of the people around them and not dumping each other or dumping
on each other. The husbands the big rebeller, he took off, so
whats so great about him? He couldnt stand it anymore, big
deal. So I think you have to do both. I think that you should live your
own life wherever you are and not give in, in a sense. I try, Ive
always tried to do that. I guess it would just go back to the fact that
I myself like everyday life. And it involves a lot. I just dont
think of it as more than what has to be done.
I think sometimes when people write, they dont really write
about all of life in a way. Theyll write about some guy whos
all fucked up, and who cares? We know all about all those fucked up
people. And to me, theyre not interesting any more. I mean, people
in pain are, but not people who are so totally in their own pain that
they dont notice any pain around them at all.
NBR: In almost all of your stories, the fathers leave, I was wondering
why youve done that?
Paley: One of the things that interested me in those days, when I was
writing the first bookwell, I got stuck with some of the themes
because I had Faith living like thatbut that interested me very
much. The point is, I knew a lot of women who were alone. And I spent
time with them. But I was not; I was married to the same guy for over
twenty years. I just didnt understand their lives. I had to learn
NBR: Did you see the absent fathers as a problem?
Paley: I dont think of things that way. I was just interested
in how those women were living. I dont know, those kids turned
out just like my kids, theyre all the same. Some of them were
better off when their fathers left, some of them were worse off, some
of them should have gone with their fathers, some of them shouldnt,
NBR: Most of your stories are about male-female relationships.
Paley: Yeah, well, Im interested in it. (Laughter)
NBR: In "A Subject of Childhood," Faith says, "What
is man that woman lies down to adore him?"
Paley: Oh, I hate that line when I read it now. Oh, I die. Every time
I read it. I didnt read it for a long time, and the last time
I read the story, I didnt even read that. I was so mortified by
it. I was so angry at that. I said, Jesus Christ, what a drip you are,
to that Faith.
NBR: Do you like your characters?
Paley: Sure, I like them all.
NBR: Do you create people that you dont like?
Paley: I really like people. If I have people I dont like, I
usually get into arguments. I really can get into a lot of arguments
to try to improve them. No, I dont think the job...I think one
of the jobs of the artist is justice, too. And that theres no
justice if you dislike the people youre writing about because
then youre really trying to nail them, you know? Trying to show
them at their worst. So its not even a question of like, its
just that Im curious about those people and therefore how can
I dislike them? I want to know more about them.
Theres a lot I havent written about. I havent
written about political stuff.
NBR: Do you want to?
Paley: Yes, I do.
NBR: Do you see that as taking time?
Paley: It already took time. If I did it now, it already took plenty
of time. (Laughter).
NBR: How do you see bringing politics into the stories?
Paley: Id like to do some fiction around Vietnam, and aroundI
went to China. A lot of very interesting things happened which Id
like to investigate more thoroughly, the people involved and what happened
there. Ive made a lot of stabs, but I havent speared anything
yet. I have pages...but I dont know how to do it.
NBR: But youd like to put it in a fiction context rather than
essays or a journal?
Paley: Well, Ive done some stuff like that. I wrote a very long
piece on Russia. It took me half a winter to write it. It wasnt
that long, it was twenty-five, thirty pages. So Ive done that.
But thats different.
NBR: Where do you see yourself in the womens movement?
Paley: Well, as a follower certainly. I hadnt really written
about women. I remember thinkingthis was just after the warthat
mens lives were very exciting and that my life wasnt very
interesting. But then that was what I was interested in, women. Im
really very happy to be part of it in any way that I can be useful.
But I dont feel that I have any leadership in it. I think the
womens movement is wonderful, a great thing. I hate to see some
of the mean struggles within it, but I dont see how it could exist
without it. Everybody should try to be as honorable and truthful and
fierce as they can be.
NBR: In your article in Esquire, you talk about the role of
the mother, do you see feminists as having trouble with that?
Paley: I think theyre coming out of it. I think in the beginning
some women not only werent charitable to their sisters, they were
really uncharitable to their mothers. That was the problem with my own
mother, she was so goddamn puritanical, she made me awful nervous. I
could get pretty angry at her. But you know, if you dont think
in terms of historyif you dont think history, youre
not thinking. Youre just not thinking if you cannot see a generation
back. And if you do not think about the circumstances in their lives,
then you dont know what youre thinking about. Theres
no truth in the present moment. Now simply doesnt exist
without then at all.
NBR: In what directions would you like to see the womens movement
Paley: I would like to see women hanging on to a strong feminism no
matter what, and at the same time, becoming part of, or making, or leading
in world change, which I think they can do. The women in Irelanda
bunch of Protestant and Catholic womenthey just said, weve
had it. A couple of thousand women. I see that as the role. I see women
simply changing the fucking world.
You know, when we went to China, a couple of our people would say,
What do you mean men dont take care of the children? Well, in
a way, there you have an example of having no sense of history at all.
These Chinese women have come in one generation from having their feet
bound, their brains destroyed, mushed up, from utter slavery, theyve
come about 500, 1,000 years, and a bunch of American women start questioning
them whove come ten years in one. But the Chinese women were marvelous.
They listened very carefully and said, yes, they thought that we were
right and that it would take time to train the men, but they thought
soon men would be good enough to take care of children. (Laughter).
NBR: Do you see the material that women write about as different?
Paley: Yeah, it seems to be. But that doesnt have to continue.
I used to think that it would have to continue, that thats the
way that it would be. But I dont think so. Whatever your life
is about, you write about; as it changes and varies you write about
that. You move. Wherever your life is, whether its in the playground,
or in a factory, or in Congress, wherever it is, its interesting,
and you write about that.