Discussing the value of reading and writing literature, C.S. Lewis observes: “Each of us by nature sees the whole world from one point of view with a perspective and a selectiveness peculiar to himself… We want to see with other eyes, to imagine with other imaginations, to feel with other hearts, as well as with our own… We demand windows.”
In our final Introduction to Creative Writing class this semester, we spent time thinking about our personal experience of reading and writing. What emerged were some beautifully worded and insightful reflections, too good not to share!
When I write, I am taken beyond myself; lifted beyond the limitations set by what is. I am free to explore that part of myself which was planted by a God who sees no boundaries, who calls me to dream, to hope, to believe in that which mortals may call impossible. When I write, I am creation connecting with Creator, and in that secret place I am truly alive.
Writing is like motherhood; it is agony of birth, the wonder of creation, the rapture of discovering something within me I thought impossible; it is the fear of failure, of loss, of whether I have what it takes; and it is pure joy found in the moment where two worlds collide, and I find myself exactly where I always wanted to be, being exactly who I was called to be.
Reading is like the mysterious exchange between two souls that occurs unexpectedly; the glance of words that sends a tremor of recognition between flesh and spirit. It is a vessel travelling outside of time and space, bringing me face to face with those long dead and those I will never meet. Reading is an immortal, indelible kiss.
I’d like to read powerful, moving writing; strong plots charged with meaning; characters who are my kin.
When I write I gather tangled threads of ideas, thoughts and memories and weave them together. The Holy Spirit inspires the design but He does not give me detailed instructions. I write quickly at first. I drop many stitches and add others that don’t belong. As I inspect the work afterwards, I see the flaws. I methodically edit, thread by thread, until it begins to resemble the vision shown to me.
Writing is like painting. The blank page, like the white canvas, can be terrifying. Yet you only need a spark, a thought, a scene, the glimpse of a story to begin. After that the sentences, like brushstrokes, come thick and fast. The process of refining the work takes longer. Some spots are highlighted and others darkened. Sometimes it is necessary to paint over whole sections or to add new elements. It is the overall picture that matters.
Reading is like spying. It is like tapping people’s phones and reading their secret diaries. Reading is like being a detective; gathering evidence to solve a mystery or anticipate a result.
I’d like to read stories where God is glorified. I’d like to read stories about ordinary events and ordinary people, where God is actually the main character, although this is not obvious on the surface. Raw, realistic stories, not sentimental mush. Stories where people may fail but God triumphs.
What is it to be a writer? Simply to put words on paper, or a screen, and create pictures in words. To draw the reader into a world with a different perspective to their own. There are stories to be written everywhere, they just have to be discovered and brought to life.
When I write, I get into my headspace and explore different paths that I may not have been aware of. Ideas and images flow when I begin to write and I am able to venture into places that I didn’t know existed.
Writing is like opening a door to another existence. It frees up my thinking, eventually, even though at first it can be very stilted.
Reading is like entering someone else’s head. It gives an opportunity to stand on the edge of another’s existence – an invitation to share a journey. It can be a means of escape.
I’d like to read much more than I am able to. Adventures in time, reality and other worlds as well as interesting theories or even practical matters. I like to read whatever I find interesting at the time.
When I write I dress up as though I’m off to a fancy restaurant. I make a pot of tea and place it to my right. I massage my favourite hand-cream into thirsty hands, carefully avoiding the pads of each finger so I don’t slip and slide all over the keyboard. I type. I read. I love. I hate. I type.
Writing is like diving off a dry, rocky cliff into cool water. The plunge is easier if I don’t over-think it. A whole new world rushes up to meet me and there is beauty, even in the ugly parts. Writing is like wading through a quagmire. I trudge, covered in muck, to find words hidden, trampled and lost.
Reading is like walking into a stranger’s home, becoming part of the family and never really leaving.
I’d like to read in another body. A body that is nourished solely with words, that would never struggle with the question, “If I read one more chapter before bed, will I still have enough sleep to function tomorrow?”
When I write, I see my thoughts solidify, magically, like curds in milk. As I write I read, notes from myself to myself, averting for a while the tendency to overlook what matters most.
Writing is like unearthing ancient bones. At first I toil and curse, gouging out useless chunks of earth. Long rests are needed. Then comes that first glint of resistance – the sure form of something hard that’s been lying there all along without my knowing. I chip away, slowly; a more patient and methodical scraping ensures the frame will emerge whole and undamaged. The detritus and fine dust must also be removed, flicked and blown and brushed away, if the full story is to be revealed, the original form faithfully defined, and made fit for public display.
Reading is like visiting a house you once lived in, years ago. Like going a journey and returning home to find the familiar made strange once again.
I’d like to read the bible more regularly, and to feel at home within the nameless streets and sprawling deserts of the past, and with the dark-eyed strangers who populate its pages, who shout out to me even now.
When I write I can unjumble the mess that is in my head and soothe my soul.
Writing is like breathing or eating and pooing for me; I can’t survive without it for very long.
Reading is like good medicine; well it should be anyway.
I’d like to read ‘War and Peace’ one day.
When I write I need clear direction, I need to know my characters and to have an outline for the story. I need to brainstorm all of these things, first, before writing anything coherent and thoughtful.
When I write I like to be alone, I don’t like people looking at the screen I am using. Also, when I write, I prefer to write on a computer; I like seeing the words splatter across the page.
Writing is like stretching my brain, and wringing out all of its creative excess, if I’ve done enough planning, in a concise and charming way. Writing poetry is like composing a song or painting a picture, with melodic sentences and colourful language.
Reading is like going home again, coming back to my grandparents house and having an adventure in the fields and gardens. I am refuelled for my next tale.
I’d like to read more stories that capture my imagination, more good books that demand priority and more honest pieces by strong female writers. I’d like more honesty.