Monday, June 03, 2013

Beautiful Words and Beautiful Writing--Carolyn R. Wilker

Photo credit: Clickr Photography
When was the last time you put down a book to ponder the words and then reread a section of text that put a thought so beautifully that you wished you had written it? Writing that uses classy language with metaphor and depth while telling a good story.
An author who quickly comes to mind, for me, is Lucy Maud Montgomery, writer of the Anne of Green Gables series and other stories and poetry. She was a master of language, and not by accident.
 In the opening to the first Green Gables book, there’s an image of a little brook that flows through Avonlea: “it was reputed to be an intricate, headlong brook in its earlier course through the woods, with dark secrets of pool and cascade, but by the time it reached Lynde’s Hollow it was a well-conducted little stream, for not even a brook could run past Mrs. Rachel Lynde’s door without due regard for decency and decorum.”
I’ve reread the first of the Green Gables books at least three times, because I appreciate her writing and the opening to her series. Montgomery had a gift, but she also worked at it, day after day, week after week, making time for writing between all the other details of her life—as a young girl, through school and university, as a young woman taking care of her ailing grandmother, then later as the wife of a minister and mother of young children. She made a way to write, and she wrote prolifically.
Lest we idolize her, which might be easy to do since her work gained so much popularity, she also had challenges in her life, but she used writing to advantage, perhaps even as an escape. She herself, an orphan, wrote about an orphan who had an incredible imagination, was a dreamer, and who really just needed someone to love her.
I’d call it more of a fascination with this writer, within a life that was anything but easy.
Irene Gammel, author of Looking for Anne, says that in writing about the character, Montgomery writes a great deal about herself. One might have called it “looking for Maud” in the Anne character, but Gammel turns it around, since in fact the subtitle is How Lucy Maud Montgomery Dreamed Up a Literary Classic.
In conversation with Elizabeth Waterston at an event in Guelph in 2008, I learned that she, too, first read Montgomery’s work as an adult. Waterston, co-editor of Montgomery’s diaries with Mary Henley Rubio, first learned about Montgomery during her graduate studies.
My first encounter with Lucy Maud’s writing came as an adult hearing other people talking about her books, going to the library to find them, and falling in love with the character Anne and the author’s writing style. Waterston and I share the fascination, yet she has the greater insight from her studies of Montgomery and the body of literature the author created that others can learn from.
Rubio writes on the inner cover panel of her book Lucy Maud Montgomery: The Gift of Wings: “The writings of Lucy Maud Montgomery are so familiar, so captivating that it is easy to feel we know her. But the complex woman behind the classic story Anne of Green Gables experienced the dark side of life as well as the intense joy of creativity.”
In all the books and authors I’ve read as an adult, I have encountered many authors who have worked years to develop their craft and contribute to a body of writing, and who keep writing day after day because to write is so important to them.
To those who write beautiful words and powerful stories, and in celebration of excellence in writing, I say thank you, and thus, today I pay tribute to my top favourite author, L. M. Montgomery.

                         placard photo at Green Gables, PEI, photo by C. Wilker

    from the 100th anniversary of the publishing of Anne of Green Gables, photo by C. Wilker

                                             In 2010 at Green Gables, photo by C. Wilker

Carolyn Wilker


Peter Black said...

Thanks Carolyn for shining your delightful and informative spotlight on your "top favourite author."
It's good to know that you are among the probable many thousands of writers and authors inspired by her work. ~~+~~

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you,Peter. One of the thousands would be accurate, but thousands do not write about her. I've written reviews on Gammel's and Rubio's book.

For anyone inspired by L. M. Montgomery, there's Maud in Leaskdale teas and tours. It was exciting to know that our very own Jayne Self lived in that house in Leaskdale when her husband served the local parish. Would Montgomery's former presence in that home inspire a writer?

Donna Mann said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna Mann said...

Thanks for reminding your readers of LMM. I haven't been to Leaskdale, but enjoyed several days in PEI a few years ago. She is certainly one of Canada's treasurers. And I love the thought that she might push Jayne's pen a bit. :)

Janet Sketchley said...

You make me want to read Anne of Green Gables again, Carolyn. I'd forgotten the beautiful language.

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