The One True Democracy

All it takes is a single moment to reach nirvana. Just a single moment for an apple to fall from the sky, or influential words to be uttered could cause inspiration to strike. On January 7, Key West High School (KWHS) sophomore and junior students received the exciting opportunity to hear from award-winning author, Colum McCann, which resulted in many students feeling motivated to write. 

Colum McCann inspires the students of KWHS. Photo provided by Kelly Smoot

McCann began by telling his own story and told of his inspirations that led to the road of becoming published and reaching success. McCann explained, “You can embrace failure. Failure can be vivifying, even if things don’t work out the way that you think that they should work out, the experience can still help you.” He later shared, “You have to work and work and work.”

These words explain that writing, and life in general, doesn’t need to be perfect on the first attempt. It’s okay to fail, as long as there is a drive to do and be better, to push past the boundaries, and work toward success. 

McCann then informed the students of KWHS that success doesn’t always necessarily need to mean fame, awards, and fortune. Success can simply be finding yourself through writing. He continued, “Who you are is much more complicated, beautiful, and messier than what we’re willing to find out… you can find this through stories and storytelling.” 

The ability to write can change lives. McCann further explained, “Writing is about trying to achieve a fundamental truth that everyone knows is there, but nobody has yet quite located it.” Being able to express thoughts and feelings through writing is the first step for a person to find themself.

Once the personal stories are told, there is one last step to keep in mind for fledgling writers. McCann advised, “Language is a mighty weapon… It can send people to war. You can tell lies, that can do all sorts of things, it can take away your world as much as it can create your world.” There must be caution when treading the tumultuous waters of politics or other divisive conflicts, while writing. 

However, this should not steer anyone away from writing their story. In the words of Colum McCann, “storytelling is the one true democracy we have”. People are born to tell tales and need to share their stories. 

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