L.M. Montgomery: Excerpts from my Journals

Since joining the L.M. Montgomery challenge, I've been leafing through my old journals, culling mentions of her work and influence. My entries grew pathetically mellifluous when Maud was around, but her writing most certainly shaped the girl—and author—I am today.

After finishing the Pat books, age 14:


"I finished Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat. I don’t think I will ever outgrow Maud’s books, however old and wise I grow. Every time I read (and reread) one of them, something is stirred in myself, something that makes me want to do better and be better in all I do. Those are the kinds of books I aspire to write someday."

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After re-rereading Emily of New Moon, age 14:

"I’ll probably refer to you as my Jimmy-Book instead of my journal for a few days because I just read Emily of New Moon again, and I may even write more frequently, being enthused for the moment..."

Thumbing through Emily a year later:

"I flipped through Emily the other day … and instantly rediscovered that beauty, so deep it disturbs my soul, and I can’t forget it for days and days. Even though I only glanced through two or three pages, its status raised to “Chosen One” once more."

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While reading Maud's journals, age 16:

“I can’t decide whether I am blessed or cursed to have access to so many books. Maud longed for them, and relished them as a “book drunkard” when she chanced upon them, but when she could have none, she spent hours writing, which is precisely what I should do. Except that I have novels galore, each vying for the attention that should be fixed on writing … So many of my [journal] entries make me shudder and groan, “was it I who wrote that mush?” Maud’s journals are filled with sense. She had sense enough to write of things relevant even when emotion-swayed, which was often...”

“...There is something wholly depressing in reading Montgomery’s journals—her existence seemed so dark and bleak, one intermittently interrupted by golden days attempting a parley with life, when it should—could—have been the other way around … joyous days, weeks, months, brimming with content[ment] and ambition, with an expected “white night” slipping in between cracks, as is its custom with all lives. But not with the cruelness she so vividly portrays in her entries, her very aching soul laid bare in its misery and pain. And how horrible to have rejected the one hope offered her—the only true hope that could save her—and yet still search for reason and meaning in this weary world.”

Debating a favorite Montgomery novel, age 16:

"I don’t think I like Anne of Green Gables more than Emily of New Moon, or vice versa, but I look upon Anne with fonder memories, as I read it first, when I was young and it seemed the most wondrous novel written—though I’m not sure that idea has changed at all since! But Emily speaks to my writer’s soul, echoes my feelings, and puts to print the hazy, floating thoughts I can’t quite capture."

3 comments:

Erin said...

:) Way cool.

Carrie said...

That is so cool that you kept journals about your reading as you grew up. I wish I had done that.

I too was struck by how difficult it was for Montgomery to obtain books and how much she cherished those she was able to read. It gives one pause, that's for sure.

Thanks for sharing all of this! Awesome reflections.

Noel De Vries said...

I think Madeleine L'Engle says something about keeping a journal because Emily of New Moon kept a journal. I was the same way, but I'm so grateful. I know myself through the journals, as would never know myself otherwise ... I go back and reread and think, Is that me? I thought that, wrote that, dreamed that? Wow. I didn't realize I had that in me. :) I'm not journaling anymore, but the stack of notebooks beside my bed are the first thing I would grab in a fire.