C.S. Lewis had it write

It’s Snark Monday at my LH blog, and since the topic is writing, I thought you’d enjoy this too.CSLewis-InkCure

Reading C.S. Lewis is like having coffee with a friend who is really smart. And very, very well read.

A thinking Christian, Lewis is profound, articulate and, at the same time, very down to earth. What he says in a few words is a lot.

Here are some of my favorite Lewis quotes about writing:

“First, I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write to be understood; we write in order to understand.”

Obviously, I’ve had this all wrong. Start writing, and then start thinking.

“No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally–and often far more–worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond.”

Ha. My love of pirate stories and fairy tales is validated.

“It is a good rule after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.”

My bookshelves are cluttered with dead friends. Or rather, with their minds, preserved in book form. The book of Hebrews says of Abel, “He being dead yet speaks.”

“When you give up a bit of work don’t (unless it is hopelessly bad) throw it away. Put it in a drawer. It may come in useful later. Much of my best work, or what I think my best, is the re-writing of things begun and abandoned years earlier.”

There is hope for my stalled-out works-in-progress?

“The only people who achieve much are those who want knowledge so badly that they seek it while conditions are still unfavorable. Favorable conditions never come.”

Right. I am lazy and expect to be spoon-fed. Like that’s working well.

And this last one, while not about writing, speaks to my tendency to feel sorry for myself.

“Crying is all right in its own way while it lasts. But you have to stop sooner or later, and then you still have to decide what to do.”

Note to self: Get over that two-star review on Amazon, Laura. (And tell me again why you are reading reviews?)

All right, this is quite enough sniveling from me. Happy Monday, friends!


8 thoughts on “C.S. Lewis had it write

  1. Robin Helm

    I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one who doesn’t know exactly what I’m going to write before I write it. That’s why it’s so hard. I know the general direction and the purpose of the chapter, but until I begin to write it, it doesn’t evolve in my mind. Other ideas always occur to me while I’m writing that haven’t occurred to me while I was only thinking about writing.

    Here on the blog, I have many times started writing a post and changed the entire direction based on a picture or research.


    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Well… I tell my students that 80% of their ideas will come as they are writing. But it’s hard to sit down and face that blank screen all the same.

      I have a general outline–sort of–but once I launch in everything can change. And as you say, Robin, so often it does.

      The most dramatic I’ve experienced was in So Lively a Chase (I think…how can I forget what I’ve written? All to easily!). Anyway, Longwell, Lady Russell’s butler, was supposed to voice concern. Instead he vaults off the page and starts ranting on about her foolish choices, speaking thoughts that he would never, ever share. I sat staring at the screen as the words came rolling out. Talk about a roller coaster ride!

      Stuff like this is what keeps us in the writing game.


  2. Susan Kaye

    I’m glad that Lewis knew putting things in the drawer is the best solution for unmanageable “stuff.” He gives me permission to keep that big old junk file. It is relevant as I started writing on a long-stalled project yesterday. New POV and a new feel.


    1. Laura Hile Post author

      You can’t hear me cheering—maybe because I’m not alone in the room and and am making no noise–but I AM. Amazing what a small shift will do to a story. Lewis would applaud as well. Go, go!


    1. Laura Hile Post author

      Gayle, I agree. And I’m struck by how simply and clearly he expresses himself. Around the first of the year the Kindle version of A Year With C.S. Lewis was on sale for something like $2.99, and I grabbed it.

      Reading a snippet a day is not the best way to read Lewis, but it’s better than nothing. He reminds me to slow down, trust God, and think.



Why yes, we DO want a piece of your mind. ;-)

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