Maeve Binchy’s top 10 words of wisdom

As the Echoes festival celebrates the Dalkey writer, we celebrate some of her great lines

Maeve Binchy: the late author in her reading room at her home in Dalkey, Co Dublin, in 2010. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Maeve Binchy was known for her wise insights into life and her often hilarious advice. As the Echoes festival prepares to celebrate her and Irish writers, here’s a top 10 of her best.

1. "I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks."

2. "The great thing about getting older is that you become more mellow. Things aren't as black and white, and you become much more tolerant."

3. "Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look."


4. "We are all the heroes and heroines of our own lives. Our love stories are amazingly romantic; our losses and betrayals and disappointments are gigantic in our own minds."

5. "If you don't go to a dance you can never be rejected, but you'll never get to dance either."

6. "The whole art of life is knowing the right time to say things."

7. "We're nothing if we're not loved. When you meet somebody who is more important to you than yourself, that has to be the most important thing in life, really. And I think we are all striving for it in different ways."

8. "I think you've got to play the hand that you're dealt and stop wishing for another hand."

9. "We get courage from other people's stories. We get consolation from the way they tell about failures, disappointments and crises. It means that we are not alone."

10. “Learn to type. Learn to drive. Have fun. Write postcards. (Letters take too long and you won’t do it; a postcard takes two minutes.) Be punctual. Don’t worry about what other people are thinking. They are not thinking about you. Write quickly. (Taking longer doesn’t usually make it better.) Get up early. See the world. Call everybody by their first name, from doctors to presidents. Have parties. Don’t agonise. Don’t regret. Don’t fuss. Never brood. Move on. Don’t wait for permission to be happy. Don’t wait for permission to do anything. Make your own life.”

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