While walking down an airport concourse, my eyes fell upon a bookrack with The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin, a fictional account of Anne Morrow Lindbergh. After living in St. Louis for fourteen years, then San Diego for another year where places and institutions are named for Lindbergh, I was intrigued to learn a bit more about the famous aviator.
The story was riveting, pushing me to additional information. The novel told about Anne’s brilliant mind, but gave no examples. I had read Gift from the Sea years ago, but had no recollection of its contents, so reread it. Anne’s writing is truly stunning! She had a gift for expression.
Next, I turned to a volume of her diary entries and letters to family and friends — Against Wind and Tide: Letters and Journals, 1947-1986. This is the book I have chosen to review this summer at Chautauqua Institution. While skimming the book for nuggets to share, I rediscovered a letter where she responds to a friend asking her why she writes:
“Why do I write? I think one must distinguish between the incidental accidents that turn one to writing (in my case, feeling inadequate in the world of conversation as an adolescent, or as in the years after losing my child, in sorrow, as an expression of and escape from the difficulties of life), and the deep inner spurs to writing that lead one on, no matter what the accidents of one’s life.
“I would write even if I published nothing. I wrote for years in diaries and notebooks and poems before I published anything. I believe I write to analyze, clarify, understand and perceive life. I write in order to see more clearly. If I did not write, I would be blind and deaf–as well as dumb. It is my lens through which to see myself and the world.
“Writing is a glass-bottomed bucket through which one looks to the still world below the ruffled surface of the waves. It is the blind man’s stick with which I tap my way along the pavement. It is also my keel, which keeps me steady in choppy waters and gives me direction. So you see I write because I have to. And incidentally it happens to be all I have to give (outside of what I give to my family).”