A friend of mine recommended Alice Munro to me when we were both twenty and living in Italy. There was no English bookstore in the small town of Orvieto, where we were living, but on a day trip to Rome we stopped at an English bookstore, and she bought something by Munro. I hadn't heard of Munro before, but she assured me that, even if it was the only new English book she was able to buy, Munro was worth it. Since then I've come to love Munro myself, so I was happy this past fall when I heard that Munro had received the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Munro's acceptance speech is delightful. She answers graciously when the interviewer asks (in my opinion) too many questions about her being a female writer, and she is honest about the reality of her work as a writer.
I wasn't surprised to hear that Munro started telling stories when she was very young, even if she was only telling stories to herself. I suspect this is something many artists have in common. Personally I'm always baffled by the question, "When did you know you wanted to paint?" because I always wanted to paint.
Of course that childlike stage doesn't last forever, and at some point it is necessary to be tenacious, to dig in and do the the hard work of being an artist. Or, as Munro says, "I never gave up at all; it was just something I did."
I suspect this grittiness is part of what makes any artist successful. It's one thing to be a child who loves stories or drawing or music or acting; it's a very different thing to continue this work into adulthood, even after the point where the work becomes hard and discouraging. Munro is an inspiration to me for many reasons, but one of them is simply her determination to continue writing.