Inklings and Inspiration

Note: the following blog post is a repost from our 2009 Southwest Regional Retreat Writers Workshop blog page. Click here for the main 2009 C.S. Lewis Southwest Regional Retreat page.


Please excuse the pause in this blog. I’ve been on holiday, and, of all places, to The Kilns. Yes, C.S. Lewis’s home just outside Oxbridge, England. What a thrill and what a blessing the visit was.

I went as a participant of the Summer Seminars-in-Residence for the August 1-7 session. The Kilns was bought and restored by the C.S. Lewis Foundation. See “Programs” on this site for more information. If you are interested in my tales of The Kilns, click here to view the main C.S. Lewis Foundation Blog.  I wrote one post on-site and will continue with The Kilns Chronicles soon.

Meanwhile, “back at the ranch,” the plans go forward to our Texas retreat and writers workshop coming up just about two months from now. There is so much to share about this one-of-a-kind workshop. Keep visiting this blog for more.

Inklings & Inspiration

THE COMPANY THEY KEEP: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community by Dr. Diana Pavlac Glyer was the inspiration for this writers workshop. Lewis, Tolkien, and the other men who made up the Inklings were all writers. In her book, Diana tells their fascinating story-of the influence they had on each other, their lives and their work. So, it was a natural fit to include a focus on writing at this retreat.

I believe that it’s fairly common for writers – when we discover authors whose words sink right to the heart, settle into the soul, and stimulate the mind – to devour their every work and learn all we can about them. Of course, meeting them in person is a special treat. But for those no longer in this world, second best is learning from those who knew or studied them. Diana has thrown open the wardrobe door and invited us into the world of the Inklings.

It’s encouraging and comforting to discover that the “greats” endured circumstances, encountered obstacles, and accepted challenges similar to our own. I used to picture famous authors working in sacred silence, uninterrupted – just them, genius, and muse – creating classics. I saw them as strong, perfect, and prolific.

Of course, even fantasy doesn’t read that way. Real people are flawed, have weaknesses, make mistakes, and deal with fractured relationships and home troubles.  Real writers are human. Often their best work is a byproduct of their trials and tribulations.

Tolkien had four children, was a professor, wrote books, studied and made up languages, and created a whole other world during his spare moments. He didn’t own a car and wrote with pen or typewriter on paper hard to come by during the war years and after. He wrote the famous words, “In a hole lived a hobbit,” on the back of an exam paper he was grading.

Lewis’s home life was strained.  A bachelor, he cared for an aging, difficult woman, an often incapacitated brother, various and sundry household staff, children during the Blitz, and in later life, a dying wife and her two sons. Beyond this, he suffered serious career disappointments and ill health.

Both men wrote without computers, copy machines, or fax machines. Research was done in the library flipping through pages in musty books, not online surfing the net. Manuscripts were one copy, tediously typed or hand written, and were delivered in person to the publisher. However, the quality of their work and word of mouth sold their books. No endless book tours and personal appearances and book signings. Their books are still in print tantalizing generation after generation.

And we think we have it tough. You say you haven’t time to write? Joy Jordan-Lake, our Writers Workshop speaker, is a professor, a minister, a writer, a wife, and a mother of four children, two cats, and one very demanding dog.  Besides writing, she could probably teach us a lot about time management.

Why read Diana’s book? In one word – ENCOURAGEMENT!

Reviews of Diana’s and Joy’s books to follow.  Plus others.