Anyone who has ever worked in a corporate office will know the awe-inspiring power that a framed black-and-white wall picture of a kitten saying “hang in there” can have. In fact, motivational and inspirational quotes can be found everywhere from greeting cards to coffee mugs, notebooks to T-shirts.
“If you believe in yourself, anything is possible.” – Anonymous
“Every new day is an opportunity to change your life.” – Anon.
“Be a voice, not an echo.” – Anonymous
As the above examples demonstrate, all it takes is a few well-chosen words to truly communicate a powerful message. That’s why we’re excited to have secured a rare exclusive interview with the writer of those examples and many more, Anonymous.
Q: Anonymous, thank you for agreeing to chat with AWC today.
A: Please, call me Anon. And it’s a pleasure. In fact, “pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work”.
Q: Oh nice, is that one of yours?
A: No no, flattering that you think so. But that one’s from Aristotle. He and his mates grabbed a few of those low hanging fruit pretty early on.
Q: Right, well, YOU have certainly had a prolific writing career yourself. A simple Google image search will reveal hundreds of quotes attributed to you. How do you find the time?
A: “Time is an illusion.”
Q: Ah yes, the famous Albert Einstein quote.
A: No! See, that’s the problem – so many of my quotes get attributed to Einstein. Or Churchill – he’s been given some of my best ones. Abraham Lincoln is another name people like to throw on the end. Steve Jobs… ugh, it’s FRUSTRATING.
Q: Do you have a particular example to share?
A: Sure. Back in 1999, I could see where the internet was going and so I coined one of my all time favourites, borne from my frustration at this blatant quote-robbery trend that was emerging even then. I announced to the world, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet just because there’s a photo with a quote next to it”.
Q: So what happened?
A: People thought it would be funny to slap Lincoln’s name on the end as the author of the quote, that’s what! Oh hardy ha ha. Sure, I get it – no internet in the 1860s, very funny proving the quote’s point like that. But I’d written it as a warning, not a joke. It was very upsetting.
Q: Well, perhaps we can change gears now and talk about some of the many quotes that you HAVE gotten credit for over the years. Do you have a favourite?
A: I’m very fond of “Everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”…
Q: Wait, didn’t John Lennon say that?
A: John Len–? Ughhh. Seriously? No, it was ME. This is what I’m talking about; the quote industry has become the wild west – no one fact checks anything anymore.
Q: That’s a good point. In fact, we just google image searched your “everything is okay in the end” quote and it came up attributed to yourself, John Lennon, Mahesh Mahi, Shantanu, Tom Fletcher, Fernando Sabino, Oscar Wilde and… Ed Sheeran.
A: Yeah, I swear people just put any name they want on my work sometimes. Sure, John Lennon and Ed Sheeran have probably quoted ME at some point, but how is that a thing? If I read Harry Potter, am I suddenly the AUTHOR of Harry Potter?
Q: So, some–
A: Well? Am I?
Q: Oh sorry, we thought that was rhetorical. No, um, that would not make you the author of Harry Potter.
A: Exactly! I might choose to start singing Imagine during this interview. So, if you would be so kind as to attribute that song to me, I’d appreciate that. Oh and I’ll take Shape of You too thanks Ed…
Q: Yes, we see your point. So, just returning to your work. Who would you say is your quote, unquote “biggest rival” in the motivational words industry today?
A: That’s an easy one. There’s really only two of us working full-time these days. Me and Unknown. Everyone else just steals our stuff and gets the credit. Of course, I can always tell immediately – Unknown’s work has a distinctive melancholy ring to it, whereas mine tends to rely more on wordplay.
Q: We didn’t realise Unknown was still working.
A: Yes, although she’s very reclusive these days – doesn’t like to be recognised in the street, that kind of thing. But still pumping out some good work. Just last year she published “The best time for new beginnings is now” – really simple stuff, you know? Her work makes me push harder as an artist.
Q: If you hadn’t gone into the motivational quote writing business, what do you think you would have done instead?
A: Ghost writing perhaps. Maybe some obscure fiction – I think I would have quite enjoyed writing under a pseudonym. That’s the annoying thing about being Anonymous – everyone knows who I am.
Q: Totally. Well, it’s been a pleasure chatting with you about your work and your process today. To finish, if you had to choose one quote to leave us with, what would it be?
A: “Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened.”
Q: Oh, that’s beautiful.
A: Thanks. I stole it off Dr Seuss…