I’ve been thinking about influencers. Not in social media terms where influence is fast becoming a new form of currency, life influencers; specifically, my life. I’ve mentioned previously that John Steinbeck has been a great motivator for me. Others are Mary Stewart, Mary Daly, Caiseal Mor, and Melody Gardot: writers, musicians, artists. There are many others including my family, but some things are too close to the bone to blog about. I prefer to stick to safer, less grey areas. The deep and the dark are reserved for storytelling.
John Steinbeck wrote once that he feared the day that somewhere someone would be reading one of his stories and realise that he really wasn’t very good. That admittance of fear of failure has stayed with me for years. One, it was exactly how I felt about my writing (in fact, about my whole Self). Two, it showed me that I wasn’t alone. If such a great and successful writer shared this disbelief in Self and yet continue on then I could too. I’m a simple soul and have pushed past many barriers based on the notion that if “so and so” can do it then I can too… None of us are alone in our fears yet reaching this understanding can be a difficult path. It’s a waste of time, isn’t it, when all we have to do is talk about our fears with people (and listen as well), but it’s a necessary journey. Short for some, long for others, but a requirement if we are to reach any kind of self-actualisation.
Mary Stewart created a character in book, The Crystal Cave, Emrys (Merlin) who showed it was okay to be a loner and a dreamer. The magic is on the inside. Work toward realising your dreams and it will be released. She also connected me to a long relationship with myth, magic, the power of story, and the importance of history. Not the history we learn at school but the hidden words and forgotten people between the pages who have exerted great influence over what we know of the world.
Mary Daly. Wow, if you haven’t read her Outercourse: the bedazzling voyage yet and you’re interested in women’s history, language and feminism, go borrow it from the library. Magnificent eye-opener of a read. Mary was a radical feminist, philosopher and theologian. What she could do with language was amazing. She taught me a lot and expanded my vocabulary exponentially from restrictive man-speak to inclusive woman-speak. I don’t agree with everything she ever said, but Mary Daly helped me turn vague thought-patterns into concepts that shaped my adult-life. She showed me how to think “outside the square”.
Caiseal Mor is an Australian writer and musician. I love his Wanderers Trilogy. I’ve read it only once but I remember some of his characters as if they were real people in my life and his story hooked me fully. Being able to relate stories with powerful music gave it a depth you won’t often experience with a book only. It’s similar to reading the book and then watching an excellent interpretation in film. I saw him at several events later and thought that his connection to his history and a “background” world, and his ability to convey meaning through story, music and art were inspiring. His music was the first I bought on CD and I played it constantly. Think Celtic folk music with lots of drums, violin and harp. I still love it. His wiki page has a good list of his novels and other works. The Cds were produced in conjunction with The Wanders Trilogy. You can learn more about him at his current website www.mahjee.com and purchase some of his music. Some of his older pieces (books/cds) are out of print now – I should make sure I look after my copies…
Melody Gardot is a jazz singer from Philadelphia who has had an enormous struggle with health and come through a dark tunnel to find her voice. Her ability to tell story through her songs and express herself are without equal. I spent most of today listening to her sing and talk. She has a wonderful way with words, sharp intelligence, and a perception of life and others that go way beyond your average singer-songwriter. When asked what had been her number one lesson in life so far (she is around 25), she answered, “Above all else, the greatest joy that any of us will ever experience is serving others. When you serve others and then you serve yourself, your life is enriched.”
Melody Gardot singing Who will comfort me:
and the documentary where I first discovered her existence, An Accidental Musician: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O47HEtfdzyQ This is part one. I recommend watching all four.
The wisdom of the above five people have had a profound effect on the way I relate to the world around me, they’ve influenced many aspects of my life, not just writing. Part of what I’ve learned from reading and listening to John, Mary Stewart, Mary Daly, Caiseal Mor and Melody Gardot is that we all have stories and stories are for sharing.