We were privileged to have Old Fettesian Elizabeth MacNeal as our guest speaker in Chapel today, the day her highly acclaimed first novel The Doll Factory launches. As well as reading an excerpt that focussed on the dark & creepy Silas, she spoke about her own ambitions and dreams giving valuable advice to the rapt audience. Elizabeth spoke about the pressures of feeling you need to know what you are doing after school. At Fettes, whilst some of her friends had clear ideas and plans, she felt a little undecided, not knowing what field of study to pursue. One of her Fettes English teachers simply asked “What do you enjoy?”, an excellent piece of advice that Elizabeth urged the audience of current Fettes pupils to pay heed to.
Dreams also require hard work and as Elizabeth told us, success is not just about talent, it is about hard work and picking yourself back up when things fail. Throughout university & beyond, Elizabeth set her alarm for 5am every day and wrote and wrote and wrote because it was something she loved. Elizabeth didn’t let the rejections from publishers put her off but just kept going, doing the thing she loved.
Standing in front of us with a book in her hand of her words and with her name on the cover is testament to that resilience. Her final comments will speak to many of the students listening to her “Follow what you love – good luck guys!”.
Whilst at Fettes, one of Elizabeth’s English teachers wrote in her report card: “I think Elizabeth has a lot of potential as a writer and I would like to see this develop. Does she write for her own pleasure? If not, she certainly ought to be doing so".