monique polak

Monique Polak's Books

1 minute reading time (204 words)

We Are Our Own Best Material

Today again, I can't take credit for the title of my blog entry. The line, "we are our own best material" is a paraphrase of something Irish-American writer and teacher Frank McCourt once told his creative writing students. McCourt, best known for his memoir Angela's Ashes has died. Fortunately for us, his books and his wisdom live on.

Reading obituaries -- and there have already been many written about McCourt -- is a little like reading biographies. I've been paying particular attention to what McCourt had to say about the writing process. Though he wrote on and off during his teacher career, he only got serious about writing after he retired. Apparently he had a nagging sense that a writing teacher should actually write! During a talk to students at a Long Island, New York high school, McCourt told his audience that writing about his own impoverished childhood in Ireland was a transformative experience: "I learned the significance of my own insignificant life." When McCourt began to write Angela's Ashes he was inspired by his own advice -- to mine his own life for material. Hope you're planning to do some interesting mining of your own this week... I'm off now to start my own!

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Tuesday, 09 August 2022

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