When I was a little girl I had a lot of trouble fitting in. I was a bit geeky looking and bit my nails to the quick. I wasn't a social butterfly, and did not make friends easily. I was a people pleaser, still am to some extent, so I followed along with the herd mentality of the time, even if I didn't agree with the "herd". I had a wild imagination that I allowed to run wild on paper, so I became known as a "story teller" in elementary school. I loved to write grand adventures, and used as my characters all the students in my class, including teachers (who oftentimes were depicted as villains). Everyone enjoyed hearing their name mentioned in my stories, and so I gained notoriety and some vain enjoyment in being the centre of attention for a little when I would read aloud my stories in class. My teachers encouraged my writing, perhaps seeing some potential in me that was otherwise lacking in other subject areas at school.
When I was a teenager, I continued to write and enjoyed writing satirical articles for the local community paper and our school newspaper. Again, it allowed me an opportunity to express my thoughts and opinions that I could not voice in person. Most often people agreed with my stance, but occasionally someone would oppose my view, and I took their criticism personally and would retreat to my "corner", unable to write for weeks. I still have difficulty having my writing critiqued. Although I no longer take it as a personal affront, I still do not like to read negative reviews. I step out of my comfort zone each and every time I enter a writing competition because I am so nervous about what judges may say about my writing. Yet, I also enjoy honing my craft, so I have learned to accept and learn from constructive criticism, but it has taken years to overcome my fear of critical evaluation.
I was an avid reader from a very young age, disappearing whole-heartedly into a book, where I lived, breathed and took on the persona of the main character. It was like being teleported to a new plane of reality for me every time I immersed myself in a book. I can remember the first time I went into our school library in grade one and signed out my first chapter book. THAT book changed my life, and in some ways is partially responsible for the career trajectory I took in becoming a teacher and a writer.
I would never presume to think my writing comparable to this incomparable writer, but it would behoove me to say that throughout my life her books have greatly inspired and influenced my own writing. I do not feel this author's "presence" when I write; I have no belief in that whatsoever. However, there are many times when I write, that I will challenge myself to emulate this author's capacity to write predominantly from personal experience. The first time I read "Anne of Green Gables" by Lucy Maud Montgomery, I knew I wanted to write novels geared towards youth and young adults, but would also captivate the attention of readers of all ages. Montgomery's headstrong, young heroine, Anne imprinted herself on my heart. I related to Anne in so many, many ways. She was geeky too, but had a wild imagination like myself. Like Anne, I was constantly correcting people how to spell my first name: Lynn without an "e" please! Anne wrote articles and stories and became a teacher, and reading about her adventures as a writer and teacher, fostered a longing in me to have the same kinds of adventures. Of course, as I got older and continued to read other novels written by L.M. Montgomery, I became more and more enamored and impressed with the strong, heroines she wrote about in her books. Over many years, I have compiled the complete "Anne" collection, as well as add twenty or so more books written by Lucy Maud Montgomery.
L.M. Montgomery depicts women as strong individuals who follow their dreams despite trying circumstances. Again, I relate so well to these women. My life in general has been a series of overcoming challenging situations. Like me, those heroines have made their share of mistakes, but they challenge themselves and others to forge ahead despite what they may face. They are humourous, they take risks, they are unstoppable, and that gives them credibility in my eyes. I also enjoy how faith is interwoven throughout Montgomery's books. She is not preachy, allowing the reader to surmise how and from Whom her heroines gain their strength.
Another attribute I applaud in the way Montgomery builds her characters, is the real attention to detail. Her characters are so believable that the reader develops a close affinity with them. Anne became my lifelong friend as a young reader! I cared about what happened to her in each book. Long after the last page was turned, I wanted to learn more about her. I remember memorizing the poem "The Highwayman" because Anne did! In every Language Arts class I have taught in junior high, I have taken special pleasure in introducing my students to that epic poem, regardless whether or not it was on the school's curriculum outline.
When I started to write my first novel, I was very mindful about character development, especially depicting my heroines to be strong, confident individuals, yet be vulnerable as well. I wanted them to have teachable spirits. I believe that L.M. Montgomery would have approved of my efforts.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons I learned after reading "Anne of Green Gables", was embedded in a line that Anne spoke: "Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it." I can't help but think that L.M. Montgomery may have had this Bible Verse in mind when she penned that line. "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases: his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23 ESV)
My writing and daily living is wrapped up in that philosophy.
Lynn Dove is the award-winning author, of the YA “Wounded Trilogy”- a contemporary Christian fiction series with coming-of-age themes. A wife, mom, grandmother, and free-lance writer with articles published in several magazines and anthologies including Chicken Soup for the Soul books, her blog, “Journey Thoughts” is a Canadian Christian Writing Award winner. Readers may connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and at lynndove.com