maud and madeleine.

Remember how I was worried about writing and stuff?

Well, I had a good idea. Maybe I should, in addition to learning from the greats as much as I can (currently picking the brains of Aeschylus and Herman Melville), return to my roots in the matter.

So. L’Engle as usual, of course. I’m never not taking advice from that blessed lady. But you know who twelve-year-old Red loved?

Lucy Maud Montgomery.

I won’t tell you how many times I’ve reread Rilla of Ingleside. My copy is falling apart. I used to draw so much strength from that book. “When we have to do a thing, Mrs. Dr., we can do it.” And I will always love The Blue Castle so much, so much…love can come from anywhere and in such an unexpected, solid, dependable, comfortable, plain, beautiful form. (All my love to Barney Snaith.)

Montgomery was a master of the craft. And I think I maybe need to go back to learning from her.

I just looked up – ask me later why it came to me – her Emily trilogy, which is about a young woman who wants to be a writer. I might read those again – perhaps I’ll like them better at twenty-one than at twelve. And perhaps they’ll give me a crisis and put me in bed with self-doubt for two days? Worth it. I hope.

I thought of it because there’s a trend on social media which is “me in three fictional characters.”

I gave myself L’Engle’s Vicky Austin, because the number of times I have set down an Austin family book and gone, “I identify with Vicky Austin so much” is off the charts.

I also said Clara Oswald, because if anybody is a wonders-of-the-universe-chasing, old-man-sassing, good-man-loving, bossy control freak English teacher type of person, it’s me.

And I said Jane Eyre, because damn if I don’t do things on my own terms, and there is some shit up with which I will not put.

I added guest appearances by Buttercup and Emily Starr, for reasons of writing and “There is a God, I know that. And there is love, I know that too.”

Montgomery, whatever you can give me now, I’ll take.

(I am a writerly cannibal.)


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