Monday, January 31, 2005

Three On Writing

I am sure that some are born to write as trees are born to bear leaves: for these, writing is a necessary mode of their own development. If the impulse to write survives the hope of success, then one is among these. If not, then the impulse was at best only pardonable vanity, and it will certainly disappear when the hope is withdrawn.
~C.S. Lewis to Arthur Greeves, The Letters of C.S. Lewis, (28 August 1930)

The way for a person to develop a style is (a) to know exactly what he wants to say, and (b) to be sure he is saying exactly that. The reader, we must remember, does not start by knowing what we mean. If our words are ambiguous, our meaning will escape him. I sometimes think that writing is like driving sheep down a road. If there is any gate open to the left or right the readers will most certainly go into it.
~C.S. Lewis, God in the Dock, "Cross-Examination" (1963)

Returning to work on an interrupted story is not like returning to work on a scholarly article. Fact, however long the scholar has left them untouched in his notebook, will still prove the same conclusions; he has only to start the engine running again. But the story is an organism: it goes on surreptitiously growing or decaying while your back is turned. If it decays, the resumption of work is like trying to coax back to life an almost extinguished fire, or to recapture the confidence of a shy animal which you had only partially tamed at your last visit.
~C.S. Lewis, English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, bk III.I (1954)

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On this day:

1919 Lewis joins and is elected secretary of the Martlet Society, a literary society at University College, Oxford.

5 Comment(s):

At Mon Jan 31, 07:16:00 AM EST, Blogger Bob said...

Interesting. Perhaps this last quotation explains why I can write non-fiction fairly well, but all my fiction seems to die ignominiously before ever coming to completion. I'd never thought about it quite in this way.

 
At Mon Jan 31, 07:54:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

*veers wildly off-topic*

The "partially tamed" phrase set my mind to thinking about the book The Little Prince, and I went looking for the part where the fox talks to the boy about taming. Here is a quote:

But if you tame me,
it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life.
I shall know the sound of a step that will be
different from all the others.
Other steps send me hurrying back
underneath the ground.
Yours will call me, like music out of my burrow.
And then look:
you see the grain-fields down yonder?
I do not eat bread.
Wheat is of no use to me.
The wheat fields have nothing to say to me.
And that is sad.
But you have hair that is the color of gold.
Think how wonderful that will be
when you have tamed me!
The grain, which is also golden,
will bring me back the thought of you.
And I shall love to listen
to the wind in the wheat. . ."

The fox gazed at the little prince,
for a long time.
"Please---tame me!" he said.
*sigh* And I love this other quote further along:

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly;
what is essential is invisible to the eye."
Okay, the full excerpt is linked here.

 
At Mon Jan 31, 07:56:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Blogger is so annoying! I swear that when I previewed that post, there were proper paragraph breaks in it!

 
At Mon Jan 31, 02:31:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bob: One thing that helps me finish is to write the ending first (or at least have it very clear). It means I have a clear goal. This is from someone who has written several novels but never been published, ie write rubbish but finishes it :-)
Arevanye: I love the fox thing. What is it from?

 
At Mon Jan 31, 03:15:00 PM EST, Blogger MrKimi said...

That anonymous comment was me (I finally set up a login) and on the second reading I noticed the link to the little prince, thanks

 

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