Stories We Need to Go Home To

One of my favorite writing-related anecdotes is about a piece of advice William Butler Yeats gave the playwright John Millington Synge.

Synge was born in a village just south of Dublin, Ireland. Early in his career he moved to Paris, writing literary criticism for magazines and newspapers. In 1986, when he was only 25 years old, he met the poet William Butler Yeats. Yeats told him that instead of trying to work his way into literary circles in Paris, he should go to the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland and write about the Irish-speaking peasants who lived there.

Yeats said, “Live there as if you were one of the people themselves. Express a life that has never found expression.”

Synge went to the Aran Islands, and the material he gathered formed the basis for his two most successful plays, Riders to the Sea and The Playboy of the Western World.

When I heard this story 5 years ago, the advice “express a life that has never found expression” resonated for me. It’s a mission I can connect with, giving a voice to those who have no voice. But there’s something else about this story: What Yeats essentially does is send him back home, because, after all, who better to tell the story than someone who already speaks the language?

We all have stories we need to go home to.

Three days until NaNoWriMo

About Marilyn

Reading, thinking, listening, writing and talking about faith, creativity, ESL for refugees, grief and finding the story in a story. Student of Spanish. Foe of procrastination. Cheez-it fan. People person with hermit tendencies or vice-versa. Thank you so much for reading.
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4 Responses to Stories We Need to Go Home To

  1. bethhavey says:

    Ah, if only I had pushed harder in 1986, to get published. I wrote about my city, Chicago and my job, nursing. Now so many would-be writers. And think of all those novels that will be written in November. Writing is wonderful, essential to the human spirit. But I wonder if some incredible book is wasting away in a drawer because the means to the end BEING PUBLISHED, so someone will read what you have written, gets harder and harder. Thinking about e-publishing? Beth

    Like

    • Marilyn says:

      Good for you, Beth! While many moan over the shrinking of traditional markets, others are opening up to a world of new possibilities. I look forward to hearing what you decide to do.

      Like

  2. ~ Patricia says:

    Wow, Marilyn…you have no idea how much I needed to read that. Thank you!

    Like

  3. Belinda says:

    So good…and Beth, don’t give up or allow your words to stay hidden. For every word given by God there is a reader. He knows who.

    Like

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