Monday Quote: Barbara Kingsolver & Antonia Malchik

Our perennial garden. This was a “hard thing” to create given no soil profile to speak of and the dirt being full of large cobbles. But we persevered.

This week my quotes have to do with persevering even when you feel inadequate or not ready or filled with anxiety (the latter is me most of the time).

This morning I interviewed Tessa Hadley, a UK author who has had a prolific career writing short stories (many are published at The New Yorker) and novels. She published her first novel when she was 46, which gives me hope – I have 5 years to publish my first book lol. She’s had a rich writing life in the 16 years since then, publishing many novels and short story collections. What’s interesting is that she’s often compared to Canadian author, Alice Munro.

I was really anxious about interviewing Hadley, and there were two quotes that echoed in my head that I wanted to share with you.

You can do hard things.

Barbara Kingsolver

I got this quote when I was reading up on Kingsolver before I interviewed her (see here and here). It’s something she says to her kids – and that her kids parrot back at her when she’s on the edge of something difficult.

By telling yourself that yes, you can do hard things, you first of all acknowledge that a particular task is difficult, but you also acknowledge that you have the ability to overcome those difficulties. You may fail at first, or many times, but eventually you can do that hard thing.

I applied it to my interview with Hadley. I felt it would be a “hard thing” because she comes from a very literary world (MFA, PhD in English) and I don’t, except through my own reading and writing. I was feeling inadequate to the task at hand. But we had a great conversation and talked about different themes in writing and different books that bring up those themes. And I didn’t feel inferior at all. I felt as though I knew what I was talking about!

My second quote for today comes from my friend and colleague, Antonia Malchik. Like Kingolsver’s quote, it’s also something she says to her kids.

Let me see you doing it instead of promising.

Antonia Malchik

This isn’t just a phrase for kids. This is for all of us. If we’re writing a book – do it, don’t promise to do it. If you want to act on climate change, do it. Promises are one thing, but follow through is more important.

I read an article recently that said when we tell people our goals, we end up not achieving them because we feel we’ve achieved them in the telling. Early praise makes us “feel we’ve already won.”

So just get out there and do what you need to do. No promising. Just do it. Actions speak louder than words. And you can do hard things.

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