News room: 2014 in review - Top 5 Inspirational speeches from writers

2014 in review - Top 5 Inspirational speeches from writers by Sarah Juckes

2014 was a pretty inspiring year. We kicked off the year with our Get Your Book Fit campaign, pioneered a collaboration with Greene & Heaton literary agency and created the very first One Big Book Launch – as well as helping hundreds of new authors get their books into print. It was also a great year to be reading and writing, so to celebrate the Year of the Awesome, we’re looking back over some of 2014’s most inspirational speeches and interviews with leading authors from around the world. May they inspire you to have an even more amazing 2015!

“Don’t quit – return home to your writing”
Elizabeth Gilbert – Author of Eat, Pray, Love

In this TED talk from March 2014 called ‘Success, failure and the drive to keep creating’, Elizabeth talks about need to carry on writing – whether you are receiving hundreds of rejection letters (like she was) or being heralded as a success (like she is). Here’s our favourite quotes from her talk (modified):

“I would deal with all my rejection letters in the same way. By saying ‘I’m not going to quit – I’m going home.’ And by home, I didn’t mean returning to my family’s farm. For me, going home meant returning to the work of writing, because writing was my home. Because I loved writing more than I hated failing at writing, and that’s how I pushed through it.”

“Many of my books will fail. And some will succeed. But I will always be safe from the random hurricanes of outcome as long as I never forget where I rightfully live.”

Listen to the full talk, here.

“Racist abuse will not stop me seeking more diversity in children’s literature”
Malorie Blackman – Children’s Laureate for the UK

Malorie has written some great articles on some very worthy causes this year. Possibly the most memorable one for us was her reply to the racist abuse she was experiencing in retaliation to her speaking up on the need for diversity in children’s literature. In this article for The Guardian called ‘Racist abuse will not stop me seeking more diversity in children’s literature’, Malorie says:

“First and foremost, our children need and deserve great, entertaining stories. My wish is for a more diverse pool of writers, illustrators and poets catering to our children’s needs. Our children require a more varied selection of protagonists having amazing adventures. I’d also like to see more diversity in the publishing industry, more cultural variation in editors and commissioning editors and on the board of publishing houses. That way, we wouldn’t get wonderful writers like Dorothy Koomson being told when she initially sent her romance-thrillers featuring black women to publishing houses that she wasn’t writing about “the black experience”.”

Read the full article, here.

“Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”
Maya Angelou – Author, poet and civil rights activist

We couldn’t write an article celebrating great quotes from writers without mentioning the wonderful Maya Angelou, who passed away aged 86 in May this year. There are some really powerful recorded speeches from Maya around, and many more single quotes, which you can find a list of here. This is a snippet from our favourite interview, which you can find in full on The Paris Review.

“I have kept a hotel room in every town I’ve ever lived in. I go into the room and I feel as if all my beliefs are suspended. Nothing holds me to anything. No milkmaids, no flowers, nothing. I just want to feel and then when I start to work I’ll remember. I’ll read something, maybe the Psalms, maybe, again, something from Mr. Dunbar, James Weldon Johnson. And I’ll remember how beautiful, how pliable the language is, how it will lend itself. If you pull it, it says, OK.” I remember that and I start to write.”

Read the full interview, here.

“We relish the freedom, and accept the responsibility, that comes with running our own show.”
Orna Ross – Author and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors

It was difficult to pin down our favourite piece from Orna this year, as she has been campaigning throughout 2014 on issues relating to indie authors – issues that lie very close to our heart! Orna has been at the forefront of ALLi’s ‘Opening Up to Indie Authors’ campaign that is working to improve the recognition of self-published titles as literary works within the publishing industry. In this article, Orna speaks about what makes independent publishing great:

“Indie authors don’t waste creative energy longing or complaining. We just do it: write, publish, reach our readers. We may take a DIY self-publishing route, we may hire an assisted-publishing service, we may use a trade publisher for some of our projects. We see all of these as author-services and decide on the basis of conditions arising and what’s best for the book. We know we are living in a golden age for writers and readers — and we relish the freedom, and accept the responsibility, that comes with running our own show.”

Read the full article, here.

“The act of reading is nothing less than an act of affirmation of being alive.”
Dr. Shashi Tharoor – Indian Politician and author

In his keynote speech for the International Conference on Literacy through Literature in New Delhi in February 2014, Shashi spoke about the issues affecting literacy in India today, and how even a person’s ability to be able to sign their own name can open up opportunities for them.

“The objective of literacy is not limited to the fundamentals of signing your name, and knowing which bus goes where. It is imperative to progress beyond the basics of reading street signs and knowing the alphabet of a language. Literature is one way to give the literate exposure to ideas that are both new, and timeless. It keeps them reading and helps them solidify their urge to be fully literate. Reading is unique in the sense that it is an activity that reinforces itself since the pleasure of reading stimulates interest and creates an incentive to read more. It is a self-renewing, self-regenerating activity. And with each book, the reader unravels new ideas within one subject, or makes a leap to new subjects.”

Read the full speech, here.

Which authors have inspired you this year? Leave your reply below!

More inspiration:

Using Orwell’s 5 Writing Rules To Market Your Book.

5 Procrastination-Busting Tips For Authors.

Why I Self-Published’, By CompletelyNovel Author, Tony Robinson OBE.

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Written by
Sarah Juckes
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Inspiration, Writers, and Quotes