Words To Inspire

PhotopinEvery writer has those moments of doubt, when a few carefully chosen words of encouragement can make all the difference.  Writing is mostly a solitary experience and  it takes a certain kind of person, not only to live in this quiet place, but to silence their inner critic just long enough to produce something creative.  However, it is immeasurably helpful when someone who has already made the journey, lifts the veil on this little world of ours and whispers wise words that help to lift our spirits and see us through.  Sometimes you just need to hear that yes, your stories are worth telling.

Letters To A Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Your doubt can become a good quality if you train it. It must become knowing, it must become criticism. Ask it, whenever it wants to spoil something for you, why something is ugly, demand proofs from it, test it, and you will find it perhaps bewildered and embarrased, perhaps also protesting. But don’t give in, insist on arguments, and act in this way, attentive and persistent, every single time, and the day will come when, instead of being a destroyer, it will become one of your best workers–perhaps the most intelligent of all the ones that are building your life.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

“Rather than being taught to ask ourselves who we are, we are schooled to ask others. We are, in effect, trained to listen to others’ versions of ourselves. We are brought up in our life as told to us by someone else! When we survey our lives, seeking to fulfill our creativity, we often see we had a dream that went glimmering because we believed, and those around us believed, that the dream was beyond our reach.

No matter what your age or your life path, whether making art is your career or your hobby or your dream, it is not too late or too egotistical or too selfish or too silly to work on your creativity.”

Julia Cameron

The Maeve Binchy Writer’s Club  

“The most important thing to realise is that everyone is capable of telling a story.  It doesn’t matter where we were born or how we grew up.  I was the first writer in my family; all my relations were grocers or lawyers.  They read books by other people, but they thought it was a bit fancy to go and write them.  Also I was from a quiet suburb in Ireland, which is a small country.  Who would want to read my stories?  But the imagination has no limits.  Wherever you are is interesting if you know where to look.  Promise to take yourself seriously – well, seriously enough to do something about this sneaking belief that you can tell a story as well as the next person.”

Maeve Binchy

Neil Gaiman

“Tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people can tell. Because [as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices — you’ve been reading other people for years… But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell — because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.”

Neil Gaiman

How books can change your life

I’ve often heard interviewers ask this question of authors, “Name a book that changed your life”, and they inevitably list off the kind of high brow, literary titles that make you feel a bit unsure of your own choice.  I could say it was Kafka’s ‘The Metamorphosis’ that changed my life, but I would never have dared to read Kafka if it hadn’t been for the two authors that brought me back to reading and consequently, changed the course of my life.

Allow me to set the scene.  The year was 2002 and I was living in Montreal, Canada – doing the whole working abroad thing that is the typical Irish experience.  Well after three years, the gloss had worn off my Canadian dream and I was really starting to miss home, my family and just being able to have a conversation with someone who understood me (literally and metaphorically!)  I grew weary of bridging the cultural divides with my Canadian friends and no matter how hard I tried, I always felt like the outsider.

Then one day I took myself off to my local library on Sherbrooke Street (money was tight – I couldn’t afford to buy much at Chapters) and found two of the most important catalysts in my life – Maeve Binchy and Marian Keyes.  Reading stories written about Ireland by Irish women was just the kind of connection with home that I needed at that time.  Tara Road and Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married became my new best friends.  I felt so lucky that a library on the other side of world stocked so many books by Irish writers and so I continued.  Watermelon, Rachel’s Holiday, The Glass Lake, Evening Class – I was hooked!

In time I realised that it wasn’t just the link to home that made these books so precious to me, but something in the back of my mind was beginning to stir: a long lost dream of becoming a storyteller myself.  As a child, I was known for being the one who made up long, rambling stories that probably didn’t make any since, but engrossed me in a way that little else did (apart from drawing – but that’s another story!)

Before I knew it, I was rushing home from my job in the evenings to start work on my very first novel.  I was writing.  Something I would never have dared attempt before borrowing those books from the library.  Not only that, over time I found everything in my life changing – I quit my job, moved back to Ireland and I haven’t looked back.  It was bye-bye corporate world, hello creativity 🙂  So, to Marian Keyes and the late, great Maeve Binchy, thank you for your stories because they were companions when I badly needed them and provided the spark to inspire me to follow my dreams.  And to all my fellow emerging authors – that’s how powerful stories can be, so keep going, it’s worth it!