Every Tuesday evening, I join a small group of women (my husband’s family) and enjoy a “girl movie”, usually a period piece such as Pride and Prejudice or Downton Abbey. Earlier this year, our group was swept up into the wonderful world that is Anne of Green Gables. I had not seen the movies in years (Anne and the sequel Anne of Avonlea), and I loved the reminder of how delightful they are. Anne is a true classic, in every sense of the word, with her fiery red hair and her feisty but endearing disposition. What a treat to enjoy such a heartwarming story together.
As we watched the beginning of Anne of Avonlea, I suddenly had a revelation: I think watching this movie, years ago as a young girl, is the first time I ever remember feeling a desire to write. Watching Anne standing on the shoreline, the ocean breezes tugging at her hair as she gazes out to the horizon and slowly, dreamily recites lines of dialogue from the story she’s writing, I remember thinking, “I want to be a writer. I want to sit on the beach with a leather portfolio and write. I want to be just like Anne.” Even the next part of the scene thrilled me in its comic drama, as she collapses on the sand, swept away by the magic of her own story, and the wind starts to catch her manuscript pages, spreading them all over the sand dunes around her.
Of course, at that point in my life, I had a naïve and very incomplete perception of writing. I feasted on the idea of the drama and glamour of a writer’s life, with no real concept of the hard, often unrewarded work involved.
But I wanted to be Anne for more reasons than just the fact that she wrote. Her incurable optimism and over-the-top humor, her quiet determination to find a “kindred spirit” no matter what her situation, and above all, her ability to find and appreciate beauty anywhere in the world—all of these things inspired me.
Anne: “Isn’t that ring around the moon enchanting?”
Miss Brooke: “I’ve seen many a moon in my time.”
Anne: “You haven’t seen this one. Sit down, and let’s just let it soak into our souls.”
I wanted to see the world the way Anne did: with a fresh perception that refused to be discouraged by circumstances and people who tried to pull her down, always determined to see the best in both the people around her and the various stages of her life. I felt, somehow, that this perception had to give her the creative genius she constantly sought. In the end, after several failed attempts to publish the fairy stories that wouldn’t leave her imagination, she wrote about what she knew—her home and her hopes and dreams—and discovered her true genius. Watching the movies and reading the books as a young girl, I wanted to somehow capture that inspiration and make it my own. I was never one for flaunting fantastic tales with frills and impressive creative devices. I tried to push the limits of my creativity and write fiction, but my brain has always tended toward nonfiction—more analytical writing such as essays and articles. Not to say that such writing was boring. To me, it has always had its own fascination, and I believed (and still do believe) that literary devices “stolen” from fiction can also bring nonfiction to glorious and meaningful life.
That was what I wanted to write. That is what I still want to write.
I don’t look at a bubbling stream and find inspiration for a dark-haired heroine with the cares of the world swimming in her hazel eyes. I do, however, look at a stream and try to see the wonder of God’s creation, and I want to draw from that beauty to write something that will inspire and encourage. I don’t have the talent for plot. But I appreciate the beauty of good fiction, and I want to make use of the tools and devices found in fiction to bring vibrant life to the sort of writing that spills from my fingers.