"Literary history and the present are dark with silences … I have had special need to learn all I could of this over the years, myself so nearly remaining mute and having to let writing die over and over again in me. These are not natural silences—what Keats called agonie ennuyeuse (the tedious agony)—that necessary time for renewal, lying fallow, gestation, in the natural cycle of creation. the silences I speak of here are unnatural: the unnatural thwarting of what struggles to come into being , but cannot.
We hold these silences as a personal crucifix.”
—Tillie Olsen, quoted by Terry Tempest Williams in When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice (Sarah Crichton Books, 2012)