Lessons Learned from the Past - Wendy H. Jones


Last week I was on holiday for five days. Yes, I know that's a somewhat strange concept at the moment but this was a belated birthday present, my birthday being in April and in lockdown. To cut to the chase, I was in Ayr, which is Burns Country, the man himself being born in Alloway. So, I took the opportunity to visit some of his haunts and to get to know him a bit better. Now, I've visited most of these previously but there is always more to learn about him and it always makes me think in different ways. 

This time I got thinking about what I could learn from him as a writer and how I could apply this to my writing today. And it's these thoughts I will share with you today.

Robert Burns was the son of a poor farmer. He was raised until the age of seven in a small cottage which had two four rooms, two of which were a byre and a barn. The other two were a parlour and a kitchen where Burns lived with his father and mother and his brother and two sisters. The siblings were born in the cottage, in the box bed in the kitchen. Burns' father, a staunch believer in eduction scraped together the money for a tutor and Burns was privately educated. His parents also believed in reading and encouraged the young boy to read not only contemporary writers but also Shakespeare and Milton. The first lesson we can learn from this is reading fosters a love of the written word and writers should first and foremost be readers. 

When he was seven, Burns father rented a farm and the family moved. Burns was expected to work as a labourer on the farm and it was whilst carrying out his tasks that much of the inspiration from his poetry was found. An example of this is the poem To a Mouse which was written after he turned over the nest whilst ploughing. The lesson we can learn from this is, inspiration is all around us. Nothing is too mundane that it cannot be used in our writing. 

As well as being a poet and songwriter, he was also something of a womaniser, fathering numerous children out of wedlock. However, he married the love of his life, Jean Amour, and together they had nine children, only three of whom survived infancy. In a bid to support his family, he gave up the backbreaking work of farming and took a position as an exciseman - essentially a tax collector. Despite a somewhat chaotic life and working full time, he still managed to write over 900 poems and songs. And he died when he was thirty-seven. What can we learn from this? Two things - even the most famous writers had to work to support themselves, and there is always time to write if one makes the time. Burns managed to write despite working full time, supporting a family, doing so in a small cottage, and with none of the modern conveniences we take for granted today. I don't mind telling you I felt somewhat guilty at the thought. 

My last takeaway is this - every writer deserves a nice writing desk and Burns was no different. His is below. 

And here is mine. It must be a Scottish thing.

Although, I do have another just in case you think I write there all the time.

Why am I showing you my writing desks, you may ask. Well it's confession time. I've got pots of room, no dependents and I'm a full time writer and I still manage to say I can't find time to write. I stand convicted. What about you? What most resonated with you in this article? I'd love to know. Please don't let me think I'm the only writer who feels like this. 

About the Author 
Wendy H Jones is the Amazon #1 international best-selling author of the award winning DI Shona McKenzie Mysteries. Her Young Adult Mystery, The Dagger’s Curse was a finalist in the Woman Alive Readers' Choice Award. She is also The President of the Scottish Association of Writers, an international public speaker, and runs conferences and workshops on writing, motivation and marketing. Wendy is the founder of Crime at the Castle, Scotland’s newest Crime Festival. She is the editor of a Lent Book, published by the Association of Christian Writers and also the editor of the Christmas Anthology from the same publisher. Her first children's book, Bertie the Buffalo, was released in December 2018. Motivation Matters: Revolutionise Your Writing One Creative Step at a Time, was released in May 2019. The Power of Why: Why 23 Women Took the Leap to Start Their Own Business was released on 29th June, 2020. Marketing Matters: Sell More Books was released on 31st July 2020. Bertie Goes to the Worldwide Games will be released on 5th May, 202,  and the third book in the Fergus and Flora Mysteries will be published in 2021. Her new author membership Authorpreneur Accelerator Academy launched in January 2021. Creativity Matters: Find Your Passion for Writing the third book in her Writing Matters Series will be published in September 2021.

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