Pep Talk from Brian Jacques

photo of Brian Jacques

Dear Writer,

Never write just for yourself. Allow me to explain. There are countless would-be authors, with shelves and cupboards packed with deathless prose that will never be published. They think it’s good, but do other people? I’m not just talking about loving family members, and best friends. I mean the world at large. What I’m saying is, think of the audience, the class, the age group, for whom you’re writing. If they could enjoy your work, then you’re on a winner matey.

Read the stories of authors you admire, study them, analize them maybe. But never copy them. Reading helps you to develop your own personal style. When you have that, then you’ve made it. However, authors are born, not made. Again I’ll explain. The spark must exist, with learning, and experience, it can be kindled into a flame, nay, an inferno in certain rare cases. If you don’t possess the initial spark, then a teacher may lend you a match, this can ignite a fire. Though I do find that in many cases, without that first God given spark, a tutored interest tends to fade after awhile. Then who knows, mayhaps you find your own, different, talent. To paint, dance, act, or be brilliant at something miles from writing.

The advice I continually give to young writers is this “Learn to paint pictures with words.” Not just once upon a time, but… In the long secret dust of ages, beneath a blue forgotten sky, where trade winds caress the sun bleached shores of unknown realms… See, as much as there are words in poetry, there is a poetry in words. Use it, stay faithful to the path you have set your heart upon and follow it. How many times have you heard someone say. ‘Oh I’m going to write a book someday!’ Meet up with them again on that nebulous “someday”, my bet is that they’re still talking about it.

Do it! Start now! Don’t make excuses to yourself, that’s the easiest way of admitting failure. There’s nothing wrong with a touch of modest ego to go with writing talent. I never attended college, or university. I had the most basic education that an Elementary School in a working class dockside area could provide. I left school, with no formal education at the age of fifteen. So (here’s my little bit of ego). Look at me now baby! You are living in America, one of the worlds greatest countries. With superb education, devoted teachers, awesome libraries, and everything they entail. With all that, imagine what you could achieve!

You know, you’ll disappoint me, if in a few years time, I’m not standing on line at a bookstore, waiting for you to sign my copy of your book. Come on, all it takes is you, and determination, self belief, and of course, the flame, which came from that first tiny spark.

Your pal,

Brian Jacques

Brian Jacques, British author (born June 15, 1939, Liverpool, Eng.—died Feb. 5, 2011, Liverpool), was best known for his vividly written Redwall series of children’s fantasy-adventure books, which follow the adventures in medieval England of brave mice who defend Redwall Abbey against cruel rats and other woodland marauders.