Tag Archives: Steve McQueen

A Question of Attitude

This blog has a dozen posts about physical and mental health, but I thought that I’d contribute something about raising one’s morale. Just as it’s easy to become a myopic, spine-bent, jelly-bellied lard arse by being a writer, so it’s easy to turn into feeling like you’re your own worst enemy spiritually—a self-critical slave to drudgery.

I’ve been collecting quotes, sayings, poems and aphorisms for forty years, and sometimes haul out my ring-binder files to boost my spirit with the thoughts of others wiser than me. There are thousands of things been written about the process of writing, but my four quotes here come from some very different men and can be applied to tackling life overall as well as how to approach one’s creativity.

Everyone knows Steve McQueen the film actor, a man renowned for his toughness, derring-do with cars and motorcycles, as well as his womanising. Few are aware of the tough start in life that he had, with a father who deserted the family, a promiscuous drunken mother, a physically abusive stepfather and trouble with the law. He was behaving in a very self-destructive way, but turned his life around with the discipline of being in the Marines, followed by learning the craft of acting.
He later observed that :
‘The world is as good as you are. You have to learn to like yourself first.’

Henry Ford transformed the automobile industry through the use of the assembly line. He may have done wonders for popularising the use of the car, but he was a vile man in lots of ways. Although he claimed to be a pacifist, he was also an anti-Semitic fascist who supported Hitler. 

All the same, he was a go-getter and came up with some great advice about attitude:

Image result for henry ford 'Whether you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.'

Doctor Robert Schuller was Ford’s diametrical opposite, a Christian minister and motivational speaker. He authored over thirty books on the power of positive thinking. He was famed for his pithy sayings, but one of my favourites tackles the way that we tend to stop ourselves from doing things – often through self-doubt, laziness or fear :

Image result for dr robert schuller quotes

The last quote comes from a hard-nosed union leader, whose father did a disappearing act. To be more accurate Jimmy Hoffa was probably ‘disappeared’ by organised crime thugs, with whom he’d had dealings. His son James P. Hoffa took over the reins of the Teamsters some twenty-five years after his father vanished. This must have required some moxie, and I like the double-edged thought he had, (which could be applied to borrowing ideas if you’re of a literary bent), as well as being firm encouragement to stiffen your resolve :

‘You only get what you are big enough to take.’

How Do You Feel When You Write?

The process of writing a book involves many stages, from the inkling of an idea to making plans and researching, before writing the story, followed by editing…then, wondering how to sell it!

Of all of the stages, editing is my least favourite, and as for marketing my novels, I’m as confused a dunce now as I was five years ago.

For me, the best part of the process is the actual writing: I come alive when I return to the keyboard. Steve McQueen encapsulated the excitement of doing something he loved—racing—and I feel the same way about writing.

Image result for steve mc queen

I’m intrigued to see what happens next, for whatever plans I’ve made and however inventive I am, there’s still an unknowable element that appears while I write.

I split into three parts: creator, critic and reader, watching the story coalesce. Not every author feels the same way:

‘My greatest fear is of suddenly feeling that to devote so much of my life to writing is meaningless. It’s a sensation that I’ve felt very often, and I’m afraid that I will again. I need a lot of determination, a stubborn, passionate adherence to the page, not to feel the urgency of other things to do, a more active way of spending my life. So yes, I’m fragile. It’s all too easy for me to notice the other things and feel guilty. And so it’s pride that I need, more than strength. While I’m writing, I have to believe that it’s up to me to tell this or that story, and that it would be wrong to avoid it or not to complete it to the best of my abilities.’

Elena Ferrante, author of My Brilliant Friend and four other Neapolitan Novels. P.G. Wodehouse

Other authors don’t have any guilt about writing: 

‘Writing is the only thing that, when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.’

Gloria Steinem

‘I never want to see anyone, and I never want to go anywhere or do anything. I just want to write.’

P.G. Wodehouse

I previously posted on How do your Stories make People Feel?‘ but how do you feel when writing those stories?






I feel like this lion:

joyHappy Lion.jpg