Literary Quotes: Claude McKay

Writing. Blogging. Literature.

“If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything.” – Claude McKay

Today’s quote is from the poet and Harlem Renaissance contemporary Claude McKay. I thought I would share it because it speaks volumes of the writing world while also transcending into a lesson about individuality and self-reliance.


When we look at this quote through the lens of writing, it says a lot, because we often look at writing as voice and as tone, which is synonymous with individuality in writing. A writer must be an individual (we are told) in order to stake their claim in the world of greatness, because having a singular voice matters. While I don’t think it has to be that grandiose an idea, individuality certainly means that we have to think for ourselves and do things that are sometimes self-motivated in order to get writing done.

Take this blog for instance.

I think it’s traveled some distance from when I plopped down in my computer chair and wrote the first post. Not far. But it has come some distance. This was all due to the individuality and loyalty that I have steeped myself in to complete a writing goal that I’ve wanted to complete for years now, which is to write a lot on a given subject for a sustained length of time (in this case—over a year).

We have to be loyal to ourselves to write things that are both interesting and speak to our personality and individuality. As such, I think Claude McKay is saying: we can’t be individuals and disloyal at the same time, because if that’s true, then we are negligent followers who cannot speak truth to their own convictions.

And, as writers, we simply can’t have that.