Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Writing Wisdom from Elizabeth Goudge


I first discovered Elizabeth Goudge a few years ago when I read THE LITTLE WHITE HORSE. A lovely, charming book filled with magic, rich in symbolism with subtle Christian themes. A book to get lost in, and just the kind of book I would’ve loved as a child. It is, by the way, a favorite of J.K. Rowling.

Recently, I picked up one of her adult books, THE SCENT OF WATER. While completely different, (no fantasy or magic), it still has Goudge’s characteristic description and symbolism. It’s a quiet book and felt like sinking into an easy chair each time I picked it up.

But the best part of SCENT OF WATER is the storyline about a blind writer, Paul, who’s struggling to find success. It doesn’t help that his wife is not very supportive. I loved his character arc, and how he finds success in the end, because he develops a “happy partnership” with a neighbor, who finally reads and understands his work.

Here are some writing nuggets from the book (mostly Paul’s dialogue):

About being an artist (or a writer): “It’s the kind of picture you paint, or the kind of book you write, that makes you unordinary, not just writing a book or painting a picture.”

About rough drafts: “But the first time through is a profound relief, like knowing you’ve reached the turning point of an illness.”

I am fortunate to have found some writing kindred spirits like Paul: “He had found in her a sympathetic but intelligent critic. She could wield the pruning knife mercifully yet at the same time she watered the roots. “
About success (when it finally comes); “I like it that people now want my work. But I don’t like them knowing so much about me through what I write, for it makes me feel naked. I want it both ways, of course, to be wanted and anonymous at the same time.” 

Books about writers and their journeys inspire me to keep going.

Have you read anything that inspires you lately?

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