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After a rather long hiatus, I have once again picked up Virginia Woolf’s abridged diary in the evenings. I’m absolutely enraptured with Woolf’s ability to use a few precise, often unexpected words to describe a person or a situation. Here are a few I’ve underlined.

“Roger is becoming one of the successes of the day as a painter of perfectly literal and very unpleasant portraits.”

“I doubt that anyone will say the interesting things but they can’t prevent their coming out.”

“Whether people see their own rooms with the devastating clearness that I see them, thus admitted once for an hour, I doubt. Chill superficial seemliness; but thin as a March glaze of ice on a pool.”

“Being an editor has drugged the remnants of ambition in him, and he is now content.”

“Sometimes everything gets into the same mood.”

“In my heart, too, I prefer the nondescript anonymous days of youth. I like youthful minds; and the sense that no one’s yet anybody.”

“I meant to write about death, only life came breaking in as usual.”

“It annoys me to be like other wives.”

“She has been working over these old stories so often, that they hold no likeness to the truth–they are stale, managed, pulled this way and that, as we used to knead and pull the crumb of bread, till it was a damp slab.”

“Ethel’s [tea] was a ghastly frizzly frying pan affair.”

“No I don’t trust him; I don’t trust any human being, however loud they bellow and roll their rs.”

“Such is human nature–and really I don’t like human nature unless all candied over with art.”

“I know why I am depressed: a bad habit of making up the review I should like before reading the review I get.”

“Here at the age of forty-five are Nessa and I growing little wings again after our lean years.”

“And now there’s the Femina prize to record–an affair of dull stupid horror.”

I’m happy to be once again immersed in the world of a very thoughtful writer who truly considered everything in her life and felt the compulsion to write about it–parties, visitors, scenes on London’s streets, the impact of a solar eclipse, books, homes, hairstyles, the subtle interplay between couples. Everything was literary. She inspires me to see all of life through the lens of what I might write about it.