Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

James Joyce

Those of you who know who Joyce is are probably thinking: there goes another pretentious Irish person quoting Joyce when they have never read a word of that doorstep of a tome, Ulysses. Well, I think it is obvious by the book I just wrote, that I have lived and breathed Ulysses in a perhaps worryingly obsessive way. Grant it, I had to study it in detail in universities on two different continents to make head nor tail of it. However, having gone there, I have never looked back. It’s kind of like how you might love a complicated symphony that sounds so good, but if you listened to the whole thing in one go, your head might explode.

In fact, I love it so much that my first novel How We Mortals Blame The Gods, shadows Ulysses on June 16th 2004, 100 years after Joyce shadowed Homer’s, The Odyssey, on June 16th 1904. Yeah, pretentious, I know, but I don’t care. Writing that was the best two years of my life.

In fact, in my many visits to ‘La Fête du Livre,’ which is a gorgeous small literary festival in my local French village, Talloires, I have pcked up a few wonderful French literary gurus. I am now going to add another one to my list; Amelie Nothomb. Mainly because she is so successful, entertaining and approachable, that I dream about being her. And she has a killer hat! Check out this video of her explaining to my friend how many ways she can wear her hat. Cool, or what!
Amelie is one of the most successful and prolific French writers. Mind you, as she explained, she gets up every day at 3.30 am and is writing without fail at 4.00 am. She, apparently, has only missed one Sunday morning’s writing in 2O years. That is from a woman who loves champagne and ended up naked in the lake after an outing at the festival in Talloires!

I will admit that my own mediocrity and absolute love of sleep may prevent me from ever being succesful, but nonetheless, Amelie is now officially on my Guru list.

So what is the Guru list? Basically, it is a not too long list of the people (famous or not) who inspire you to be the best version of yourself. They are people whose words and actions inspire and motivate you to get out there, dance, smile and challenge what you believe in. My list goes something like this: David Bowie, Leonardo Da Vinci, Gráinne Mhaol, Malala Yousafzai, James Joyce, Elizabeth Gilbert, Carl Jung, Marian Keyes, Oscar Wilde, Angelina Jolie, Shakespeare, Gretchin Rubin, J.K. Rowling, Mark Manson … That’s 14. Oh yeah, I just added Amelie Nothomb. So 15. I can add non-famous people from my friends and family, but I’ll save that for another time.

You will be adding to and subtracting from this list all the time. The point is you don’t have to spend a penny to get excellent advice or inspiration. It is all around you in the people you love and admire. Read what they have to say, watch their videos if there are any, and pay close attention to the lives they led or lead. That is not to say you should become a stalker, or ever even contact them.

In fact, one of my main gurus, Elizabeth Gilbert, points out that she never met her guru, the poet, Jack Gilbert (name a co-incidence). After all, heroes are just people. They are not perfect and like everyone and can disappoint. However, when kept at arm’s length, although not always, the words and actions of your gurus can be just what you need in the tough times.

As you have perhaps noticed I am a quotes fiend, and I keep my quotes book close at hand to dip in for a little inspiration when life is taking me on a downward spiral. Lastly, podcasts, or audiobooks written by our gurus is a brilliant way pass the time while travelling. Your teachers and gurus are a precious inspiration, and their advice is for free. Learn to use it. Finally, to quote my ultimate hero:

Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.

James Joyce