Friday, January 31, 2014

A Tasty Writing Tip from Madeleine L' Engle

Dear Friend,

In Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, Madeleine L' Engle likened her process for writing books to cooking a meal like a French peasant cook:
When I start working on a book, which is usually several years and several books before I start to write it, I am somewhat like a French peasant cook. There are several pots on the back of the stove, and as I go by doing the day's work, I drop a carrot in one, an onion in another, a chunk of meat in another. When it comes time to prepare the meal, I take the pot which is most nearly full and bring it to the front of the stove.

So it is with writing. There are several pots on those back burners. An idea for a scene goes into one, a character into another. When it comes time to write, I bring forward the pot that has the most is it. The dropping in of ideas is something quite conscious; sometimes it happens without my realizing it. I look, and something has been added which is just what I need, but I don't remember when it was added.

When it is time to start work, I look at everything in the pot, sort, arrange, think about character and story line. Most of this part of the work is done consciously, but then there comes a moment of unself-consciousness, of letting go and serving the work.

Madeline L'Engle wrote from home as she raised four children. I love it when I find a great writer whose life experience is a bit like my own. Everyday I cook for my family of seven, so this meal-making analogy is something that speaks to me: Add a bit of something here; shake a dash of something there. I have four book ideas on my mental stove right now. They might need to simmer for ten, fifteen, twenty years.

Perhaps, like me, you feel you have very little time to devote to your long term dreams. Would it help to dig out some nice heavy stock pots and place them on your mental stove?

Can you drizzle a little oil in and saute an onion today?

Some day we will say "Bon Appetit!"


P.S. My friend Krista Bjorn is experiencing the fruition of some lifelong dreams right now: a book deal, her own store, and a secret garden! Read about it here.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Blogiversary! (I'm back early from my break.)

Dear Friend,

Classical Quest is two years old today!

My little blog is a toddler now.

I wish I could spend this day with all my wonderful blog-friends in person. I'd love to celebrate with a slab of The Best German Chocolate Cake in All the Land from Yammie's Noshery. *

I keep thinking about how this second year of blogging has turned out to be "The Year I Learned How to Guest Post and How to Host Guest Posts." 

Karen Swallow Prior was here in March. Oh my goodness. So exciting! Karen is the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me -- a book which really struck a chord with me. Hosting her here was delightful.

In April I hosted a moving post by my friend Tim Fall, who blogs at Just One Train Wreck After Another. (Psst . . . Today is Tim's birthday.)

My friend Jeannie Prinsen is a writing instructor for Queen's University in Canada. She shared one of her stunning poems here in November. Jeannie blogs at Little House on the Circle.

Also in November, I was offered a post by award-winning author Anita Mathias -- which I accepted with joy! Anita blogs from Oxford at Dreaming Beneath the Spires.

And finally, I read a poem by Sheena Señara which she wrote in response to the devastation caused by Super-Typhoon Haiyan. I felt honored that she was willing to share this tender post with my readers and me. Sheena blogs at Tabulyogang

I was a guest at other blogs twice this year.

I was a nervous wreck until each of the posts went up . . . and then, once they were posted (and there was no turning back) I had a blast! (Thank you so much for the experience, Jeannie and Tim!)

My historic first guest post was "Embracing the Gospel Through Racial Reconciliation" which went up at Just One Train Wreck After Another in October.

The second was "The Story of a Life in Three Quilts" which was posted at Little House on the Circle.

So that's it for the guest post links. I'm glad to be back to blogging again. I've missed it.

Hope you are well!


* Twenty-one year old Yammie cooks for her large family. She's a charming blogger and a culinary genius. She was recently acknowledged by the Huffington Post.You're going to love her blog.