What I learned: Lenten Lands by Douglas Gresham

A friend, who happens to be my boss, nonchalantly passed this book to me. Knowing how I like to underline, I asked if she meant me to keep it. She said it was mine and I’m glad she did; I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

I’m a big fan of C.S. Lewis, so I judged the book by its cover and dove in. I was only two pages in when I came across the first bit of poetic prose that stirred my spirit.

…every point in one’s life at which one loses everything is far more a beginning than an end, for one has lost merely the past, and one has yet to gain the future.

I offered two other excerpts I enjoyed here here, and here, but I could have added quite a few more. I try to stay away from critiquing authors here, but I feel compelled to share how much I enjoyed Gresham’s writing. Maybe it was because his descriptions of the English countryside reminded me of the Shire, or maybe it was because I was so intrigued by the subject matter, but I believe his skill transcends both. Gresham writes well.

Reflecting back on the book, I realized I want to write sentences and passages that make readers smile. I’m not thinking about humor, but well crafted sentences that cause a reader to stop and savor for just a moment. It’s worth it to take a bit longer to transform a good sentence into a memorable one.

In a roundabout way, I learned good content must be met by good writing for a book to be excellent. I’ve muscled through books rich with important content but impoverished in prose and it takes the joy out of learning. I’m also aware of plenty of well written books about subjects I could care less about. I know I cannot control what the reader seeks in content, but I can be sure they find an enjoyable read if my content matches their desire.

I learned both the passion and craft of writing can be transferred to the next generation. Gresham’s mother and father did what all great writers do, they read and wrote with diligence and delight. (If you’re interested, here’s the writing routing of C.S. Lewis.) Mr. Gresham absorbed some of their habits and skill which he displayed in this book.

As a Lewis fan, I’m glad to have read this book. As a writer, I’m glad to have read this book.

Keep Discovering Writing.

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