I’ve been getting daily writing prompts for about three weeks now, and along with them I get other little titbits such as cartoons:
(image removed on request)
There are also quotes and advice from well-known writers, and today’s advice was in the form of five writing rules by C S Lewis. But for some reason I found myself strangely resistant to clicking on the link. Like most modern readers I love love love the Narnia books (oh, that I could go back and read them for the first time!) but am less keen on his particular brand of theological sci-fi:
and still less keen on his misogynistic views. This last is a little unfair on him as he was no worse and perhaps better than most men of his time: however it remains a sticking point, and that constituted a scotch in the free movement of cursor to link and a reluctance to click. Nevertheless I decided to give him a chance; and lo! his rules turned out to be eminently sensible. They boil down to this:
Always be clear and unambiguous
Don’t use long words where short ones will do
Be concrete, not abstract
Show, don’t tell.
These are surely rules no-one could disagree with. Lewis, though some modern feminists would attempt to consign him to the dustbin of patriarchy, was an interesting character; a dry academic with a Blakeian imagination, a confirmed bachelor until he fell in love, a romantic who wrote about palaces while lodging with his alcoholic brother in a freezing house (the heating broke down and they couldn’t be bothered to fix it) a man with strong, unflattering views on both women and divorce – until he fell in love with an American divorcee. It was almost as though life was trying to teach him something…
It seems Lewis had to be pushed to the brink before he would allow himself to live. He had a difficult relationship with his mother and only reluctantly allowed himself to be drawn into a liaison with Joy Davidman. This, however, was short-lived as she died of cancer and he married her on her death-bed (having previously entered a civil marriage so that she could live in the UK: you wonder how much he was kidding himself there.) His non-fiction works Surprised by Joy and The Problem of Pain seem almost anticipatory biographies, life following the blueprint of art.
His Christianity is a mix of fear and joy, though his apprehensions of hell are somewhat prosaic: people sin the most not by living too much but by living too little; by being afraid of life. But he did liven up what was a very dull theological epoch during the inter- and post-war years. And to an extent I agree with him as my vision of hell is like this guy in the Channel 4 series Mimic, who longs for fame but when his big chance comes he hides in the toilets.
Anyway, I guess if your worst nightmare is NOT taking the opportunity then you’ll take it. Otherwise your worst nightmare would be – oh, I don’t know, farting on live TV or picking your nose or crying or losing your trousers or… or something that would be shared on social media and stay on youtube forever.
Come to think of it, those are my worst nightmares…
2 thoughts on “C S What?”
You’ve stated your feelings on Lewis but doubtless unknowlingly opened a window on my past. I felt the same when reading his Out of the Silent Planet trilogy. I guess, if a writer is full of questions or contradictions it calls out to the readers — some questions won’t be asked better in the future, so seek your answers now.