Thoughts for Friday – 21st February 2014


This week’s quote comes from English author Julian Barnes who won the prestigious Man Booker Prize for his 2011 novel ‘The Sense of an Ending’. Barnes has also written under the pseudonym Dan Kavanagh, publishing several titles under this ‘nom de plume’ as well as his ‘real’ name.

I like this quote for one reason: it seems to be talking directly to me as to the reason why I became a writer in the first place. As a child I was never popular at school or part of the ‘in’ crowd. Most of the time I was a loner, sometimes by choice and other times by being cast out from the main ‘groups’ at school. I was one of those kids that didn’t have the right hairstyle or who didn’t wear the right coat or shoes to school and the other kids set me apart because of it.

Years of being excluded in the social settings of childhood and young adulthood meant that I quickly learned to cut my own path in life, to not listen to the criticisms of others or feel as if I had to follow the latest trends. If I was an outcast then so be it, but at least I had the determination to be my own person, even when others said that I couldn’t.

I have always thought that the most compelling writers (or leaders of any artistic endeavors) have always been folk who felt as if they never quite fit in when they were growing up. Many creative people come from difficult – sometimes traumatic – childhoods and backgrounds and have used art as a way to express the emotions associated with it.

I believe that writers have a greater understanding of and sympathy for the sometimes conflicted emotions associated with being an outcast of some sort. The most absorbing books that I have read have been ones in which the author has masterfully put into words emotions that are so difficult to express verbally. A great writer will leave you thinking ‘Man, that’s exactly how I feel.’

But in order to feel, one must first understand. Writers need to be able to reach places deep within a reader and perhaps the only way to do so is to stand apart from the crowd, to be the outsider looking into to every day situations. A writer is separate from the world around them, yet such an intrinsic part of it. The nature of a writer is paradoxical, constantly contradicting itself, and questioning the meaning of their existence.

Perhaps writers are gifted (or possibly cursed) with the gift of being able to view the world around them with a deeper clarity than those who do not write. Writers – and other ‘artists’ for that matter – are often labelled as walking around with their head in the clouds when the truth is that they are more in tune with the world around them than they are often given credit for.

The next time you spot someone walking around, head moving from left to right with a sense of childlike wonder, spare a moment for them and ask yourself if that is a writer in your midst, looking for inspiration from their surroundings. Spare a thought for the person who sees more clearly than you realize and know that they are probably an outcast of some sort with a troubled or difficult history. Be appreciative of their bravery in baring their soul through the written word as they somehow try to make sense of the world around them.

Bravery is not in the ability to hide one’s flaws but in the willingness to expose them and risk the judgement of others. This is what a writer does each time they craft their words, creating a piece that will hopefully touch something deep inside their reader, setting them apart and making them an outcast. Anyone can be a sheep, it takes real guts to break from the ‘norm’ and cut your own path in life.


Filed under Thoughts for Friday

16 responses to “Thoughts for Friday – 21st February 2014

  1. Great post, I was the same (and still am to a certain extent). Though I don’t feel like an outcast here 🙂

    • Thank you!

      This is one of the great things about blogging in that we can connect with other like-minded people and perhaps find a place where we are not an outcast for once.

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment, it is greatly appreciated.

      Heather xxx

  2. What a lovely post 🙂 I like to think creativity can be born fro many things, but I think it’s true that it can really come from a little bit of being alone and being an observer rather than participant.

    • Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my post. I am glad that it has spoken to you also. I find my creativity comes mainly from feeling like an outsider and that gives me the ability to see things from a different perspective than some others might.

      Heather xxx

  3. I think it is true that many of the most creative people have suffered either emotional turmoil or felt like one of society’s outsiders. It’s a gift, though, to be able to turn a heart’s pain into something beautiful, entertaining or instructive for others. You have that gift.

    It is no exaggeration to say that I always look forward to Fridays because of the quotes you provide and your personal insights. This particular Friday posting was an exceptionally fine one.

    • Thank you so much, Kate. I am so happy to hear that this week’s quote has such resonance for you. And thank you also for your wonderfully kind words about my writing. To me, writing has been a way to attempt to work through my emotional turmoil and turn it into something productive and I hope that I can continue to improve and one day publish some of my work.

      Heather xxx

  4. Pingback: A Friday Quote from a Fellow Blogger | Odyssey of a Novice Writer

  5. Beautiful post – I think an artist has to be able to step outside of things in order to see them differently, but it can be such a painful and lonely thing for so many. I suppose the art comes in reconnecting after the initial separation.

  6. A great quote and a great post!

  7. A wonderful, meaningful way you unpacked the quote out of your own life, Heather. Keep feeling, looking in, looking up, getting it down.


    • Hi Diana,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog post. I think this is my favorite ‘Thoughts’ quote since I began the series as I have always felt pretty much like an outsider for most of my life. With writing it seems as if I’ve found an outlet for it.

      Heather xxx

  8. “A great writer will leave you thinking ‘Man, that’s exactly how I feel.”
    –Wow, that’s great. Love this. That, as well as take people to a place where they can say, “Hmmmm, wait a sec, I’ve never considered that. You have a point.” or that would be thought provoking.

    Thanks for sharing.
    p.s. I too, was never in the ‘in’ crowd. I was always the out cast.

  9. Hi Staci,

    I am so glad that you enjoyed this wee’s quote, it seems to have a lot of resonance with many people. I think a lot of us here have felt like an outcast at some point in our life and I am extremely thankful that I have now found somewhere that I feel I do fit in.

    Heather xxx

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