The only good teachers

In 1938 Barbara Ueland published what I still regard as the best book of advice for anyone feeling hesitant about or needing encouragement to pursue their dreams.

If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit is a book I’ve carried around with me for more than two decades. No matter how many books I give away, I always hang onto this one.

Barbara Ueland has been a kind companion on my storytelling and writing journey. She Among the many gems in her book is this one I often quote when a friend confides uncertainty about her own talents.

“The only good teachers for you are those friends who love you, who think you are interesting, or very important, or wonderfully funny; whose attitude is:

“‘Tell me more. Tell me all you can. I want to understand more about everything you feel and know and all the changes inside and out of you. Let more come out.'”

Ueland’s book sits on a shelf behind me as I write. I hear her voice when a small one inside asks me why I spend so much time at something where the rewards are purely intrinsic. What she says resonates for me:

“I want to assure you with all earnestness, that no writing is a waste of time,—no creative work where the feelings, the imagination, the intelligence must work. With every sentence you write, you have learned something. It has done you good. It has stretched your understanding. I know that. Even if I knew for certain that I would never make another cent from it, I would still keep on writing.”

And so will I…keep on writing.

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2 comments for “The only good teachers

  1. marianne
    May 21, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Cathryn – you are incredible – everything you publish is so uplifting, so true and so helpful. –

  2. May 21, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that you are reading the blog and finding things that resonate with you!

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