Wednesday 4 September 2013
A lesson from an old classic
I'm delighted to be taking part in this brand new blog. The energy and excitement feels almost palpable and I'm looking forward to many great posts to come. The chance to focus on the high-quality and varied writing of the Australasian region will be a boon for all who read this as we have lots to offer.
I was thinking how much our situation resembles an episode in an old classic novel I enjoyed in my youth. Little did I know a few decades later I'd come to back to it and realise, "Hey, that's us." It isn't an Australasian book but a Canadian one, Emily Climbs by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
In a chapter entitled An Open Door, a successful businesswoman, Miss Janet Royal, comes for a brief visit to her old, provincial home, Prince Edward Island. Miss Royal is the literary editor of a flash women's magazine and also a reader for a noted publishing house. Having read a story by young Emily of New Moon, she makes the teenager a stunning offer.
"You mustn't waste your life here. Come with me to New York and in ten years time, you'll be a household name."
When the initial rush of excitement fades, Emily reflects, prays and consults her visceral feelings. On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer. Success would loom so much closer, certain, brilliant and quick were she to accept Miss Royal's offer. Yet why is she having so much trouble making the big decision?
Her old former school teacher, Mr Carpenter, tells her that he wants her to be a Canadian through and through, doing something for the literature of her own country, keeping her unique tang and flavour, although he concedes that there are not many dollars in it. Emily realises the sense of what he is saying. To use her own words, 'the fountain of living water would dry up in her soul' if she left to pursue the big time, and she wouldn't succeed there either.
Miss Royal is disappointed by her decision, and tells her she'll never amount to anything. "The big editors won't look past the address of Prince Edward Island on your manuscript." With that, the novel is close to the end. But well into the trilogy's final, Emily's Quest, our heroine causes a stir with a lovely book named, The Moral of the Rose. Miss Royal writes her a letter admitting, "You were right not to come to New York. You could never have written that charming tale here."
Is it a simple lesson to go with your gut or could it be even deeper for us? Is the message in this old classic a reinforcement that our Australasian, Christian focused writing also has its special tang and flavour with the potential to touch many readers deeply? Physically moving our geographical location to get more exposure is not necessarily a wise or practical move. Nor is watering down our Christian values to make stories that may appeal to more secular audiences. But in spite of the feeling we may sometimes get from the rest of the world that our region is regarded as a bit parochial and removed from the rest of the world, we know in our hearts that what we have to offer in our faith-filled literature is like a strong vein of gold.
If you own a globe of the world, I challenge you to take hold of it and look at the Australasian region, deep in the Southern Hemisphere, surrounded by the Indian and Pacific Oceans. You may understand why it may seem easy to overlook, as it's geographically far away from North America and Europe. But I know through experience that our people, descended from generations of brave settlers and influenced by our rugged landscape, have a lot to offer the world in our writing. If you aren't familiar with this part of the world, you may like to become regular followers of this blog, to familiarise yourself with the names on the toolbar for a start, and get ready for lots of excellent reading.
Don't forget that by commenting on each blog post this week you go into the opening weeks giveaways. For more information check the launch post. Remember you need to fill in the form and post on the blog posts. No comment means no entry.
Paula Vince is the award-winning author of several contemporary inspirational novels set in her own beautiful environment, the Adelaide Hills of South Australia. She believes that a well-told story is a powerful tool to change hearts and touch lives. She likes to fill her own stories with suspense, drama and romance. Visit her at www.paulavince.com, or follow her blog, www.justoccurred.blogspot.com.