What I’m Reading: C. S. Lewis On Writing (and Writers)

Oh, happy day, I saw a new book, knew I would love it, and snatched it up! Such a joy that happens rarely to me these days.

C. S. Lewis On Writing (and Writers), A Miscellany of Advice and Opinions, edited by David C. Downing.

The quote that captured me is printed on the back of the book jacket. I thumbed through first thing to find it inside.

“Whenever you are fed up with life, start writing: ink is the great cure for all human ills, as I have found out long ago.” ~ C. S. Lewis.

Just last week I found myself faced with a decision. Actually several decisions, so the first decision was which decision needed to come first. I dithered (I so often dither), felt uncertain and confused, and thus stymied, frustrated and sinking. Why it took me so long to take up my blue ink pen and pour it all onto the journal page, I do not know, but once I did, I understood what was going on inside me, clarity bloomed, and I proceeded to decide and act. What has come to me also in reading this Lewis quote is that I used to write letters. All the writers I knew wrote letters. Today it is email and we all want it succinct, because time is our most valuable commodity. I went to my writing desk and took up a pen and wrote to a friend and mailed it snail mail, just for the exercise. I feel it necessary to caution that one should be careful where and to whom one writes when fed up with life. Understanding hearts and privacy is necessary.

On the power of style:

“For every thought can be expressed in a number of different ways: and style is the art of expressing a given thought in the most beautiful words and rhythms of words.” ~ C. S. Lewis.

Oh, how I love the rhythm of words! Another term for style is author voice, and one of my great complaints of modern fiction is that voice seems to be fading. Novels so often sound the same, smart and clever, but not reflecting the character and setting. If a book is set in Florida, I want it to sound like it, sound like the heat and humidity, the pines or the bayous, the crush and variety of the cities, where people still move slower. And now I’ll be back to looking at my own work in this regard. So often I get lazy in this area.

This is a jewel of a book. Thank you, Mr. Downing and HarperCollins Publishers.

Happy reading, y’all!