Raw Material

My younger daughter lay on the couch all day yesterday with a bad cold; since she was a little girl, her response to sickness or misery has been quiet, a pulling into herself. Her sister rises up and fights.

Neither good nor bad, each girl arrived in this world with a distinctive personality emerging even as a young child.

When they were younger, I made a failed attempt to conceal what I believed were the harder realities – grave illness or betrayal. The truth, really, was that I didn’t want to hold those things; how little credit I gave to the children, and to resilience itself. Mistakenly, I believed resilience was a well that be tapped dry, rather than, like creativity, a bottomless collective spring.

I alone could never drink it dry.

Our writing is a living portrait of ourselves….. Write for the sheer pleasure we take in doing it, but also for the knowledge that it might just shift this world of ours a little. It is, after all, a beautiful and strange and furious place. Literature reminds us that life is not already written down. There are still infinite possibilities. Make from your confrontation with despair a tiny little margin of beauty. The more you choose to see, the more you will see. In the end, the only things worth doing are the things that might possibly break your heart. Rage on.

Colum McCann, Letters to a Young Writer

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