Mandy’s Wednesday ‘W’ is … What inspired me?

Hello and happy August.  I don’t know about you but I think that this year has whizzed by so fast it’s made my head spin, and that’s not a good look especially if you have a cold. (I don’t have a cold, but just sayin’.)

I thought I’d tell you what inspired me to really get the writing bit between my teeth and gallop forward into authordom. I fell at many hurdles along the way but at last I feel like I’m at least beginning to trot comfortably around the writer’s paddock.

Well, it all started back in 2001 on one of my many trips to the USA. I am totally in love with the place and ache to return….but that’s another story. OK, so the OH and I landed up in South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore and other ‘awesome’ (to be read in an American accent) sights.

At that time I taught amongst other things, The American West to GCSE students. I was fascinated with the history of the Native American Indian way of life and their struggle against white American domination in the 19th century. Imagine my excitement when I realised that one of the guys who’d worked on carving out the President’s heads at Rushmore had actually jumped ship to carve a memorial to Crazy Horse one of the Sioux leaders. Crazy Horse was the main guy who’d lead the defeat of Custer at The Battle of The Little Bighorn in 1876, and his monument was only 17 miles up the road from Rushmore!crazy-horse-memorial-2

When we arrived at this memorial I was completely moved and amazed at the sheer size of it. It is in fact the world’s largest mountain carving. A huge head as you can see from the picture had been blasted and carved out of rock and to get an idea of its size, when it is finished Mount Rushmore will fit into it four times. I was even more moved to find that it had been started buy this one guy in Korczac Ziolkowski in 1948.  He had been asked by a Sioux leader at the time if he would help to create a memorial to Crazy Horse by carving him from the sacred Black Hills. Korczac agreed and for many years he worked alone with just an old generator to power his tools. A student, Ruth Ross, came out to visit Korczac’s project; they fell in love, married and had 10 children. Ruth, now 85 still runs the memorial visitor centre.

When news of Ziolkiwski’s work reached the government they offered a large sum of money to help him. He and his family, by this time all working on the mountain, refused the offer. They said they didn’t want Crazy Horse’s memory turned into a theme park. Funding is from visitor’s admission fees, visitor centre merchandise sales and generous donations from like-minded people. The aim is to protect the heritage and history of the Native American Peoples and to establish an education programme and medical training centre for the Sioux  living in the Black Hills.

When the going got tough in the early days, Korczac always told himself, ‘never forget your dreams’ and he never gave up. That really touched me and struck home. And although I have never carved a mountain alone in the middle of nowhere, my writing journey has often felt like it. At times of despair, normally after a rejection, when I felt I didn’t have what it took, I would think of that determined, brave and some say crazy sculptor, grit my teeth and carry on. If he could dedicate his life to carving a mountain, battling against the odds in all weathers and still never give up, then what was I grizzling about?

So now my motto is … ‘never give up and never forget your dreams.’ It stands me in good stead when the going gets tough and if you ever get the chance to visit Crazy Horse Memorial, please take it, I’m sure you will be inspired too!

Read more about it here: Crazy Horse Memorial

See a clip here:     A Tribute to Korczak Ziolkowski

31 thoughts on “Mandy’s Wednesday ‘W’ is … What inspired me?

  1. Wonderful post, Mandy. It is indeed inspiring. I’d love to see that memorial. Must be a very emotional place to stop by.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. What a really interesting blog, Mandy, and inspirational in itself.

    I love the stories of the mid 80s in the US, and even the films of that period, despite the inaccuracies and the glossy Hollywood slant of most of them.

    It’s such a shame that the memorial is too far from Wyoming for me to be able to fit it in this summer, but it’ll go on my To Be Seen list.

    Liz X

  3. Completely agree about never giving up, Mandy. If we had, we wouldn’t be doing what we do. I’d probably still be working in a bank … (Unless they’d already made me redundant.)

  4. Thanks for the comments girls. Liz, you should cut something out of your trip this year and pop over! Sue, I can’t imagine you in a bank, far more suited to writing, and Carol, what a lovely thing to say! x

  5. Ooh, so envious of your USA experiences – I’d love to see more of the States. So true about never giving up – the next time I’m struggling (probably in a few minutes time) I’ll think of mountains in the middle of nowhere and that lonely sculptor.

  6. Thanks, Chris, I would love to go back and see the progress. Perhaps one day when I have won the lottery! 🙂 x

  7. Wow! That’s going to look absolutely amazing when it’s finished. Love the comparison to writing and eventually getting there – there were, and still are, times when I find it a monumental task.

  8. Thanks, Henri,I know exactly what you mean. I have a fridge magnet of Crazy Horse Memorial and the words, ‘never forget your dreams’ are written around the edge. I look at that often!

  9. What a lovely story Mandy and how lovely to have visited the site. I would have stuck at history at school if I’d had a teacher as interesting as you . Can’t wait for your next book and I will think of this story next time I feel like giving up on anything.

  10. Fascinating,Mandy, and I agree totally about never giving up.

    We have little control over the marketplace, the economy, or the trends but we do have total control over what we write and I think it’s important to remember that.

    Good luck! 🙂

  11. If you’re going to be any sort of writer, artist, actor, musician – anything in the world of competitive arts – you have to believe in yourself and be optimistic, but also realistic. It’s sometimes a difficult balancing act, as I’m sure everyone in our profession would agree.

    Strange you should choose to write about Mount Rushmore because my daughters have just come back from a Thelma and Louise holiday which took in the very same place. They said it was – you got it – awesome!

  12. What a great post. The photo is pretty amazing too. I’ll have to put it on my list of things I’d like to see if I ever make it to the US.
    Never forget for your dreams is a great motto.

  13. Thanks for all these lovely comments! Control is important, Colette in this uncertain world and I totally agree, thanks, Annie I’m glad you can find inspiration in Korczac’s message too and thanks for the compliment, Evonne, never stop learning is so important too, thanks, Marilyn glad you liked it, Margaret, thanks and I wonder if your daughter went to Crazy Horse too? Thanks for your comment Linda I’m glad I made you feel like you were there, and do go, Rhoda if you possibly can – well worth it! x

  14. Wonderful post Mandy. Inspirational 🙂 So pleased you didn’t give up X

  15. Great blog, Mandy, and as already said, inspirational itself. Thanks for sharing.

  16. Coming in a bit late here, but agree with everyone else, Mandy – great post!

  17. I’d like to go back there, Jo! Thanks, Juliet, it is a very special place x

  18. What a fantastic story, Mandy! I knew a little about your inspiration from America before but this is fascinating and inspiring stuff, indeed. And you deserve all the success you’ve ‘carved out’ for yourself. x

  19. Thanks Carol and Debs! I’d better get my knife sharpened if I want to carve any more :)xx

  20. Wow, i’ve never heard of this memorial! I’ll have to keep in mind when I move back to the US someday. It’s awesome (said with a TRUE American accent ;)) when living history can inspire. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  21. *totally awesome* (please read in requisite US drawl) piece, Mandy. I wish I could go and see for myself sometime, it’s one of my dreams. Thanks for sharing photos, too! ‘Never give up’ is a great motto and one I adhere too, so I totally ‘hear’ your piece. Thank you!

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