The Longing to Write

C.S. Lewis wrote on Nov 14, 1914 to his great childhood friend, Arthur Greeves, while he was at his private tutor’s house for the semester. Arthur is a musician, charged with putting a score to C.S. Lewis’ first opera.

“…the present arrangement continue[s] to give every satisfaction which is possible. But there is one comfort which must inevitably be wanting anywhere except at home — namely, the ability to write whenever one wishes. For, though of course, there is no formal obstacle, you will readily see that it is impossible to take out one’s manuscript and start to work in another’s house. And, when ideas come flowing upon me, so great is the desire of framing them into words, words into sentences, and sentences into metre, that the inability to do so, is no light affliction. You, when you are cut off for a few weeks from a piano, must experience much the same sensations.”

What I find fascinating about this passage–besides how it captures that awkward, struggling desperation to cut out time to put pen to paper–is that Lewis is 16 years old at the time. I find that phenomenal. His longing for the mental and physical space to write reminds me of the Psalmist’s cry in exile: “How can I sing the song of the LORD in a land that is not my own?” (Psalm 137:4)


About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
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2 Responses to The Longing to Write

  1. Neeks says:

    Wonderful post, I had never read that quote before. 16 huh? Wow!


    • Yeah, 16. He was working on an opera based on an epic poem he had written. He published his first book of poetry 3-4 years later, just after the war.
      Makes me jealous of his education, but we all find our way, don’t we? And the reason I get pulled away from writing when I really want to isn’t because of a lack of Yeats and Milton and Homer in Jr. High. Or maybe it is!


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