In Memory of Bryce Courtenay and The Power of One: It’s Never Too Late to Start Writing

“Always in life an idea starts small, it is only a sapling idea, but the vines will come and they will try to choke your idea so it cannot grow and it will die and you will never know you had a big idea, an idea so big it could have grown thirty meters through the dark canopy of leaves and touched the face of the sky.’ He looked at me and continued. ‘The vines are people who are afraid of originality, of new thinking. Most people you encounter will be vines; when you are a young plant they are very dangerous.’ His piercing blue eyes looked into mine.’ Always listen to yourself, Peekay. It is better to be wrong than simply to follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you grow stronger. If you are right, you have taken another step toward a fulfilling life.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

Early winter tree lichens ~ Minnesota

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

My book club’s November read was Bryce Courtenay’s “The Power of One,”  which I had not read since it was first published.  It was always a special book to me, one that I continued to make space for on my overcrowded bookshelves all these years.  Re-reading it over 20 years later, I found even more gems of wisdom.  Not even two weeks after my book club gathered for an interesting discussion, that lent itself to exploration of deeper issues as most book club discussions do, we learned that Bryce Courtenay passed away.  You can read his obituary here.

“. . . besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

Mossy stump in early winter ~ Minnesota

In reading Mr. Courtenay’s obituary and other articles reflecting on his life, I thought many of you may find interesting the fact that he did not pen his first book until his mid-50’s, and that book was the worldwide bestseller “The Power of One.”   For all of you participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), take note and inspiration from Mr. Courtenay’s later-in-life start and success with writing (you may particularly be interested in the link below to Capital Letters’ post regarding Mr. Courtenay’s last Master Class).  It is never too early or too late to find your writer’s voice.

“The power of one is above all things the power to believe in yourself, often well beyond any latent ability you may have previously demonstrated. The mind is the athlete, the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swim harder, hit further, or box better.” ~ Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

Just a few of the recent posts from other WordPress bloggers on Bryce Courtenay or The Power of One:

This week’s Reflection of Gratitude ~ be grateful for your writer’s voice!

Ciao! ~ Kat

13 responses to “In Memory of Bryce Courtenay and The Power of One: It’s Never Too Late to Start Writing”

  1. Thanks for bringing Courtenay to my attention, Kat – I need more books to read like I need a hole in my head, but he’s on my list now. And I seem to have more to thank you for, I see…


  2. Thanks for the mention of my blog post and your thoughtful obituary. There was an interesting documentary on his life repeated on Australian ABC TV last night.

    Courtenay came across as a man driven towards winning and success, at some cost to his relationship with his family. Maybe that’s inevitable for anyone so single-minded. Most controversial was his April Fools Day (I haven’t read it) about the death of his son from HIV AIDS.

    At the time the book did much good work in destigmatising the disease, but his family naturally felt uncomfortable about being exposed and ‘verballed’ by the storyteller.


    • The Power of One has been my only Courtenay read. Others have mentioned the April Fools Day book as one that made an impression on them so perhaps I will add that to the never-ending “to read” list, as well.


  3. How inspiring and thoughtful, Kat! This book sounds like a wonderful read. By the way, are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? I did it maybe three years ago. It was fun.


  4. Great encouraging post – Many of the best ideas, works of art, writing, etc. were created by the over 50s: there is too much emphasis on the cult of the young on this side of the world – gotta do some living before one can do something with it!


    • There is something to be said for experience! I think reflecting back on life’s experiences in the intervening 20+ years between reads of “The Power of One” is why I enjoyed it even more the second time around! ~ Kat


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