I sat and spoke with one of our Counsel at work today and the discussion turned towards C.S. Lewis, who Wikipedia describes as “a British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist.” I have always loved The Chronicles of Narnia, and I know some of Lewis’ story, but I’ve not read any of his non-fiction. I even have a couple of his nonfiction works, but haven’t ever taken the time to read them.
So when my colleague was talking of one of his books, The Problem of Pain, I found it interesting enough to come home and research Lewis’s life a bit. Now, a few hours later, I’d definitely like to carve out some time to read some of his nonfiction.
As I was looking for information on Lewis, I came across this quote:
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.
That made me pause, to consider my blog. I think about originality every day. I know that King Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun, no new ideas, nothing. Everything has been done before. Of course, we can argue that all kinds of things are new and different. Technology is developing so rapidly and innovatively, that it’s all new and different. But, what I think Solomon is referring to is the big view; we forget to learn from our mistakes. We keep running, like a hamster on its wheel, and there’s so much sameness, across cultures, across places, across time, and generations.
But as I think about originality in writing, it is hard to be original. People have thought the things I’m thinking; they have felt the things I’m feeling. I wonder sometimes what I can add to the discussion.
Then, from across the years and across the sea, C.S. Lewis encourages me to keep going, to tell my truth, without worrying if it’s stale, without worrying if anyone else has ever told it before. If I do that, I’m sure I’ll still be telling it my way, with my view, and maybe I will find something worth adding to the sea of words that engulfs us daily.
DAY 284 HOMEWORK: Struggling with your own desire for originality? Don’t think you have it in you? Simply do your thing, tell your story, from your heart, in your words. That’s all you can do, so just do, and watch what happens.