Writing is Worthwhile

“If… you wish to write, then write.”  Epicticus

There is something about old letters, yes? Like the one below from JTT Tolkien in 1963.   http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9049899/JRR-Tolkiens-grumpy-holiday-letter-sells-for-1700.html

JRR Tolkien's grumpy holiday letter sells for £1,700The letter  describes a holiday Tolkien and his wife took in 1963, although not a happy one he talks about his delight at meeting the couple, who he addresses ‘My Dear People’.
Tolkien goes on to describe his and his wife’s health, a ‘disastrous holiday’ and to thank the recipients for their ‘company and kindness’. Accompanying the letter is a Christmas card with photograph of Tolkien flanked by his holiday companions, Wilfrid and Nora.
‘I meant to send this letter to welcome you home,’ writes the Hobbit author. ‘But both of us have been feeling ill’ ….” (from The Telegraph / 30 Jan 2012 / http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/9049899/JRR-Tolkiens-grumpy-holiday-letter-sells-for-1700.html)

Letters … old letters.  I really like to read old letters, and I like to look at old letters.  Books, old books, and the writers who wrote them, and their places, their reasons for writing and for going to those places where they sat, and lived, and wrote.  

Mark Twain Writing Habits
We write: manuscripts, letters, poems, books, EMAILs, blogs … Through the centuries, the writing has been done by pencil, ink, typewriter.  The literary work keeps going. 

letter by Mark TwainTom Sawyer hung out with Huck Finn, on a raft on the Mississippi River.  And Mark Twain wrote about it … probably after he had his own raft trips going down the Mississippi.  Some of Twain’s writing was done laying down.

Other guys wrote, laying down, such as Truman Capote, Robert Louis Stevinson.  Right: an 1883 letter from Mark Twain, newly acquired by The  Bancroft Library’s Mark Twain Papers & Project.  http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/2010/07/27/twain/

Ernest Hemingway Writing Habits

Hemingway sometimes sat, when he wrote, or typed.  Sometimes he stood, when he wrote, or typed. I like how he writes with short, powerful, descriptive, sentences which, somehow, in my limited opinion, intensifies the tension.  Hemingway stood when he wrote / typed (most of the time).   I read Hemingway less and less.  The depression I feel from some of his writing wears on me.  It feels kind of existential.

C.S. Lewis

In another place, far from the existential realm, I have pondered the great wardrobe written about by C.S. Lewis.  There are other categories of Mr. Lewis that I  have read about.  I have only been to Narnia once.  To the right is a picture of C.S. Lewis in his study, thanks to the link, http://lotr.wikia.com/wiki/C.S._Lewis

To the left is a letter signed by C.S. Lewis from 1951, discussing the author’s reaction to young author Ray Bradbury (http://www.royalbooks.com/pages/books/122570/ray-bradbury-c-s-lewis/autograph-letter-signed-by-c-s-lewis-from-1951-discussing-the-authors-reaction-to-young-author-ray

The letter is dated April 28, 1951, Magdalene College in Cambridge, and reads: “Dear M. Rutyearts / I enclose a photo; whether good or not I do not know, but it is the only one I can find. / Bradbury is a writer of great distinction in my opinion. Is his style almost too delicate, too elusive, too “nuancé” for S.F. matter? In that respect I take him and me to be at opposite poles; he is a humbled disciple of Corot and Debussy, I an even humbler disciple of Titian and Beethoven. / With all good wishes / Yours sincerely / C.S. Lewis.”

Between 1939 and 1954, Lewis started and finished the Chronicles of Narnia, which consists of seven books. I would say that the Chronicles of Narnia have been quite popular: over a 100 million copies in 47 countries.  Now, here is a guy who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, and throughout his life he had frequent bouts with depression.  This is the same man who wrote The Problem with Pain.   I suppose that there are connections, here.  The Chronicles have young people fighting forces of darkness.  There is oppression happening in Narnia.  And C.S. Lewis fought such battles, through the written word, through his teaching, and through his own personal battles with his depression.  I still have not found out whether the quote from Shadowlands was a C.S. Lewis quote, or not: “Pain is God’s megaphone for rousing a deaf world.”  I love the quote, but how can that be?  I don’t love pain.  I don’t love anguish, nor do I like depression.  But the quote is a powerful quote.   Here is another quote, this one from C.S. Lewis:

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain

Writing is worthwhile.  Maybe it is one of the more powerful, sacred, places a writer can go to release his / her pain, because … as C.S. Lewis said “… it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’ …”


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