Conroy Defined Being A Writer: Words, Wounds, and Wonder
Pat Conroy has died, leaving us afloat in a sea of less talent. His stunning work inspired people to be better, to do better, and to write better. He did so for me, inspiring me to teach and to write. I am forever grateful.
“My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call.” So opens his masterful, “Prince of Tides.”
I’d read parts of the book aloud to myself, just to feel his mellifluous words flowing through my brain. He told stories I could relate to and desperately wanted to tell. The closest I could come to being him was to quote him in the prologue to my book about my dysfunctional family. “How far do you have to go to hit crazy in your family?,” he’d ask people. He lived with crazy and used his pain to fuel his words. And oh what words. Here are just a few to inspire you to keep reading, keep writing, and keep telling your stories…
On family: “A family is one of nature’s solubles; it dissolves in time like salt in rainwater.” -Prince of Tides
On books: “I can’t pass a bookstore without slipping inside, looking for the next book that will burn my hand when I touch its jacket, or hand me over a promissory note of such immense power that it contains the formula that will change everything about me.” – My Reading Life
On teachers: “Teach them the quiet words of kindness, to live beyond themselves. Urge them toward excellence, drive them toward gentleness, pull them deep into yourself, pull them upward toward manhood, but softly like an angel arranging clouds. Let your spirit move through them softly.” Prince of Tides
On spirituality: “He treated the stars as though they were love songs written to him by God.” South of Broad
On living: “There were far worse strategies in life than to try to make each aspect of one’s existence a minor work of art.” The Lords of Discipline
On being an author: “An author must gorge himself on ten thousand images to select the magical one that can define a piece of the world in a way one has never considered before.” – My Losing Season
I leave you with his thoughts on what writers do: “The language locks itself in the icy slopes of our own high passes, and it is up to us, the writers, to melt the glaciers within us. When these glaciers break off, we get to call them novels, the changelings of our burning spirits, our life’s work.” – My Reading Life
If you haven’t read Conroy, make one of his your next great read. If you have a favorite Conroy quote, please share.
Rest in peace, Prince of Tides. I hope you are floating peacefully somewhere near the beaches of your beloved South Carolina…