In Defence of Mental Weakness

…inspired by reading a ridiculous article originally posted in Lifehacker and then in Forbes Magazine entitled 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do. Triskadekophobic behaviour is presumably not on the list.

What is on the list is the usual bullshit – excuse me, but there is no polite word for it – I’ve made it my business to fight. On that site you can see an excellent article by Patricia Casey about the harm that can be done by using the wrong kind of language. This article pretty much hits the jackpot. I got into a discussion with fellow writers Niamh Boyce and Arlene Hunt about it over on the tweet machine and we were all, to a woman, unimpressed.

Firstly, its concept of “strength” appears irritatingly vague – is this the strength of tempered steel, or of the inexorable erosion of the sea; is it the strength required to lift 200lb of weights above one’s head, or the strength to give birth to a child? Does it consider this – oh no, wait, it’s not really interested in the nature of strength. It’s interested in the usual stigmatising nonsense. It’s full of bromides such as “Don’t dwell on the past” and “Don’t believe the world owes you a living / raise yourself by the bootstraps”. Don’t complain, don’t give up, keep going. Do you know what?

Mental strength is sounding a lot like corporate servitude from where I’m sitting. And I’ll tell you something else.

I’ll tell you what real mental strength is. It’s when you open up the blank page and the blank page is waiting back at you, infinitely patient and white. It’s when you drop every single artificial tactic of self-deception and “character-building” this article advocates, it’s when you unveil your naked, emotional, unresilient self, unattractively, embarrassingly open – as open the book as you’re about to write.

And start writing it.

Go on, I dare you to have the courage.

Red Lamp, Black Piano – Cáca Milis Cabaret Anthology Launch


My great friend Helena Mulkerns, compere of the Cáca Milis Cabaret in Wexford for five years now, is launching the companion anthology in Dublin and Wexford next week. I’ll be reading at the Irish Writers Centre for the launch next Wednesday if you fancy coming along and having a read of the Anthology there. More information below the line 🙂
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