Posted by: oneyearbook | April 10, 2009

One child and ‘it’

I still look for that ineffable quality in places, and photographs

I still look for that ineffable quality in places, and photographs

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, at least as long as I can remember, and one memory of this goal stands out quite clearly: my mother and I are sitting in my bedroom, on the white expanse of the coverlet on my twin bed; I am about nine years old, and we are discussing what, exactly, sort of novel I would like to write. She is acting in the role of my secretary, with a notebook for recording my thoughts on the matter open in front of her.

I’d really like to write something like L.M. Montgomery, I admit. Anne of Green Gables was one of the first real ‘chapter books’ I read, and since then I’ve taken a headlong sprint through the rest of her oeuvre, starting with all the other Anne books, then covering the short stories, the Story Girl books, that Emily of New Moon business, Jane of Lantern Hill – all of them stories of young girls living on Prince Edward Island – and even some of the stranger, lesser-known books that linger at the edge of her work, like Kilmeny of the Orchard.

Okay, Mom says, but what does that mean, to write something like L.M. Montgomery? Something about young girls? Something about orphans? Something about P.E.I., a place I have, at the time, never been (and still, in fact, haven’t)?

I don’t know, I mutter. Her books just have this thing. This special thing. It’s a combination of her gorgeous descriptions of the wildlife of her home island, the way she makes me see the Island as the most beautiful place in the world when she brings it to life; it’s the way I feel when I’m immersed in her characters, immersed in the often slow-paced stories that revolve around funny, delicate incidents of every day life. Her books just have this thing. They’ve got ‘it.’

That’s as particular as I can be in describing how I feel, and so in the end, my secretary-mother writes down that I would like to write a novel that has ‘it.’

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Responses

  1. As the scribe in this story I confess to having no memory of this event! But I’m very glad that you do.

  2. But I do remember your passion for the Anne novels. And that KatesAnnie was named for Anne (combo of Kitty, the named she started out with as a stray, and Anne).
    Nice Hornby picture btw.


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