Writing advice from Colum McCann to you

From Letters to a Young Writer, Bloomsbury (2017)

I came across a quick review of McCann’s advice to young writers in Totally Dublin recently. I hope you find some pearls below. Or perhaps you already have pearls of your own.

Be subversive of ease

Read aloud

Risk yourself

Do not be afraid of sentiment even when others call it sentimentality

Be ready to get ripped to pieces: it happens

Permit yourself anger


Take pause

Accept the rejections

Be vivified by collapse

Practice resuscitation

Have wonder…

Do not allow your heart to harden

Face it, the cynics have better one-liners than we do. Take heart: they can never finish their stories

Enjoy difficulty

Embrace mystery

Find the universal in the loca

Reveal a truth that isn’t yet there

At the same time, entertain


To Be Read

Ulysses has been in my To Be Read pile for a while. I fear it might remain there for some time yet. I am content to happen upon the landmarks that give colour to the book until the day I build up the courage to start reading it again. Today I found Sweny’s Pharmacy in Lincoln Place, where Leopold Bloom buys lemon soap.