We must follow our “airy voices,” follow them through bitter suffering and discouragement and darkness, through doubt and disbelief, through valleys of humiliation and over delectable hills where sweet things would lure us from our quest, ever and always must we follow, if we would reach the “far-off divine event” and look out thence to the aerial spires of our City of Fulfillment.”
It’s extremely moving to read the memoir of your literary hero. She was born exactly 102 years before me. And she held her first published book when she was exactly the age I am now. “Not a great book,” she wrote in her journal, “but mine.”
You know how I love the Anne books, intensely, deeply, like a little piece of my soul, or another sister in some ways. But this book shares all kinds of memories from Maud’s life (her friends called her Maud) that I recognized from her other series that begins with Emily of New Moon. I’d always heard it was her most autobiographical, and now it will hold a special place in my heart because so much of it was fully her.
I loved so much every word in this book because she wrote them, and in only a tiny stretch of the imagination, she wrote them to me. Quoting the poem that was forever her inspiration (where the term “the alpine path” comes from), she told me she wrote them for me.
It is indeed a “hard and steep” path; and if any word I can write will assist or encourage another pilgrim along that path, that word I gladly and willingly write.
She refers to the book as the story of her career, but it’s not. It’s not fully the story of her life either, and I found myself wishing for so much more. It’s tidbits really – little things she remembers, things that shaped her. The ugly aprons she had to wear and felt so embarrassed by, the little home where she wrote that first book and several after, journal entries from her honeymoon. Of the actual climb to publication, she only says a few words, that there were many rejections, a period of time locked away in a hatbox, a re-read, another try, and finally acceptance.
And maybe that’s the most moving part of all. She dreamed of writing always. To write had “always been [her] central purpose around which every effort and hope and ambition of [her] life [had] grouped itself.” And when it came time to talk about her climb up the alpine path, she had very little to say about query letters and editors and cover art and release dates. Instead she had so much to say about her life and the people she loved and things she had written. It was a great, unimaginable joy to hold her published book for the first time. “Not a great book, but mine, mine, mine” is exactly how I plan to feel when it’s my turn. But the part I relate to most, the part I will have forever whether publication happens for me at all, is the feeling she had simply for having completed it.
Well, I’ve written my book! The dream dreamed years ago at that old brown desk in school has come true at last after years of toil and struggle. And the realization is sweet, almost as sweet as the dream.”