C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and several of their writing friends, formed an informal literary circle in 1933. This circle of writers also included C. S. Lewis’ older brother Warren. They called their group The Inklings and it existed until 1949. The group had no rules, officers, or agendas. The men simply met regularly to read and discuss their unfinished works. C. S. Lewis is reported to have enjoyed listening to his friends read their stories. They met at Magdalene College, Oxford, England on Thursday evenings and Tuesdays during the day at a local pub called The Eagle and Child which some referred to as The Bird and Baby. They later met in other pubs such as The Lamb and Flag. It was at one of these friendly meetings that the novels by J. R. R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings and C. S. Lewis’ Out of the Silent Planet were first read. Their discussions were not all serious. They often entertained themselves with the poor prose of Amanda McKittrick Ros with challenges to see who could read her prose the longest without breaking into laughter.
I’ve often thought how wonderful it would be to belong to such a group. I envision a small group of four to six fiction writers who feel comfortable reading their work aloud and then discussing ideas, characters, plots, grammar, contests, publishing houses, and printing companies. There wouldn’t be any critiquing per se. Instead, there’d be encouragement to press on to finish a piece of work and a free brainstorming of ideas; helping each other to build stories and get them published. I picture the small intimate group meeting at a restaurant or coffee shop. As they read and discuss their stories, I see them enjoying a meal and laughing. It’s an up-beat group in which everyone looks forward to their time together. And if everyone in the group is a Christian that would top it off.
Oh, if only there were some literary folks nearby with this same dream. What fun it would be!