Sound Words for Writing Women


"My friend", Elisabeth Elliot

Some musings from Elisabeth Elliot, regarding writing old truth for a new generation.  The premise is that, just because “it has already been said”…and finely and eloquently said…doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be said once more.  She also offers some encouragement for women desiring to write, but still very much occupied with the daily demands of home life.  I found great encouragement in this.  I wrote to tell her so.  Ever done something like that?  Do you like to hear kind words?  Maybe it’s time you reciprocate. =)  

If a thing is true it is not new, but the truth needs to be said again and again, freshly for each generation. I have often been introduced to some seventeenth-or eighteenth-century writer by a nineteenth-century writer. If I quote what I learn from the ancients, a twentieth-century reader is sometimes helped when he would not by himself have found Crashaw’s poem or St. Francis’ prayer or St. Paul’s Love chapter.

What of the twenty-first century? Which of the young people I know are now laying the groundwork for being the writers or artists or, as I like to think of any who show truth in any form, the prophets for my grandchildren’s grandchildren?

I wrote to the young woman:

Don’t give up that yearning. During these busy years while you take care of small children and give yourself to being a godly wife and mother, lay the firm footing on which good writing must be built. Read great books if you have time to read anything at all. Get rid of the junk that comes in the mail, eschew all magazines and newspapers if your reading time is limited, and by “hearing” the really great authors, learn the sound and cadence of good English.

There are two other things required of “prophets.” Observation (“What do you see?” Ezekiel and John were asked) and silence. (“The word of the Lord came to me.”) Obviously we (I, at least, and most others, I suppose) are not anything like the biblical prophets. Ours is a different assignment. But we are charged with the responsibility of telling the truth, and I don’t see how this can possibly be done without opening our eyes to see and our ears to hear. There must, there simply must, be time and space allowed for silence and for solitude if what we see and hear is to be “processed.”

Antoine de Saint-Exupery, author of Wind, Sand, and Stars, said in a conversation with Anne Morrow Lindbergh, “The great of the earth are those who leave silence and solitude around themselves, their work and their life, and let it ripen of its own accord.”



One thought on “Sound Words for Writing Women

  1. I came across this some time back, and, like you, I was greatly encouraged, because I had been thinking that very thing, “What could IO possibly write that has not already been said or written before?” The thought that God uses people in every generation to communicate truth within their sphere of influence was inspiring.

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