Editor’s NoteGreetings, and welcome to The Pipe Series. Pack your pipe and settle in for a bi-monthly endeavor into the world of one of Christianity’s most beloved storytellers, hack-theologians, apologists and all around jocund fellows: C.S. Lewis.
Expect most posts to center on a theme, offer an off-the-beaten-path quote and some random facts that don’t surface in the popular feed. I’m not quite sure Professor Lewis would approve of such an email. He’d probably dismiss the mere notion that we’d waste our time climbing up and down his words. Or, perhaps he’d get a kick out of it. Either way, let’s get on with it.
Clive Staples Lewis was born on November 29, 1898. He was Irish. Yes, Irish. In fact, he loved Ireland—Northern Ireland to be more precise and County Down was his favorite. He and Joy Davidman spent their honeymoon in Ireland in 1958.
Though he was, no doubt, born with a unique imagination, it was fueled by a life of books. When he was seven years old his family moved to a new home on the edge of Belfast, in “Leaboro.” Piles and piles of books filled this new house and Lewis was granted free reign to read what he liked. Like any child with open space, books and free time, Lewis’ imagination grew in the halls of his youth.*
Imagination doesn’t follow a rigid set of laws. It operates according to the unique make-up of each person. And, not all imaginations are equal. Our environments affect how our imaginations fire. Alister McGrath suggests the emerald green of County Down and other parts of Northern Ireland shaped the wonderment of Lewis’ imagination.
Makes me wonder how he wrote his stories?
“With me the process is much like bird-watching than like either talking or building. I see pictures. Some of the pictures have a common flavour, almost a common smell, which groups them together. Keep quiet and watch and they will begin joining themselves up. If you were very lucky (I have never been so lucky as all that) a whole group might join themselves so consistently that there you had a complete story; without doing anything yourself. But more often (in my experience always) there are gaps. Then at last you have to do some deliberate inventing …”**
Lewis paid little heed, from what I can tell, to what people thought of his stories. First reviews of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe did not offer praise. And yet the floodgates opened the next two years as Lewis hammered out the series.
Lewis encourages me to seek originality; to stay away from what’s popular and to cling to what’s waiting to erupt out of my imagination. Today, it’s all about audience awareness and psychographics and market. But what directs the market? That one book or writer brave enough to “keep quiet and watch” and follow their imagination.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was written in just two months.
The Silver Chair was written in about three months.
“Writing is like a ‘lust’ or like scratching when you itch.” —God In The Dock
Which Lewis book was his least favorite to write?
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*McGrath, C.S. Lewis: A Life, p. 10-14
**Sayers, Jack, p.312