Saturday, August 4, 2007


When I was in the fifth grade, I remember going crazy trying to find a biography of Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables series. (It was an obsession which carried well into adulthood...remember this?

My mother finally ordered me a copy, and soon, I had my very own little pink and purple copy of Maud: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Harry Bruce. I would get to know ALL about the girl who gave the world Anne Shirley (and Gilbert Blythe...of course.)

There was one part of this biography that absolutely gave me chills the first time I read it, and as I dug through my old books for the sole purpose of finding this book today and rereading this particular page, I found the chills even stronger than ever:

When asked if Anne was a real person, even Maud felt uneasy. Writing in her journal in 1911, she asked, "Does she not stand at my elbow even now...if I turned my head quickly should I not see her-with her eager, starry eyes and her long braids of red hair and her little pointed chin? To tell that haunting elf that she is not real, because forsooth, I never met her in the flesh. No, I cannot do it. She is so real that, although I've never met her, I feel quite sure that I shall do some day." Maud, of course, wasn't the only one who thought Anne was real to an uncanny degree. With her haunting, starry-eyed redheaded elf, Maud Montgomery enriched the lives of untold millions. They were everywhere in what both she and Anne called'this dear old world.'

There is a reason why I suddenly remembered that passage and felt the need to reflect upon it.

(I would also like to state that I WILL be using "forsooth" in a sentence this week.)

The reasons?

Harry Potter. And Hermione Granger. And Ron Weasley.

The series came to an end two weeks ago, and I feel like I just said goodbye to very close friends. Even though we know from the epilogue of the final book that all end's well for Harry and his gang, it just isn't enough. It's over. They're gone. I love these kids, and refuse to believe that they are not real just because I have never met them. It is really quite scary how tangible fictional characters can become after a while.

One thing I have wanted my entire life was to be a writer. I am not really a writer right now. I haven't published any novels, nobody has produced my plays or filmed my screenplays.

It is when I think about Lucy Maud Montgomery and JK Rowling that I become extremely discouraged and frustrated. In fact, working at a bookstore for so many years gave me that same feeling...being surrounded by all those books. Knowing I was no more special than a billion others who call themselves writers.

There's this thing we do at bookstores...we "strip" paperback books that don't sell. This doesn't reflect on the quality of the literature...classics and bestsellers often get stripped at some point. Many of "the strips", though, are books by authors we will never hear from again. Stripping books was the hardest thing I ever had to do at that store. These stripped books were once somebody's dream! Some writer put their heart and soul into those pages, and here I was, just ripping off the covers and throwing them away.

It would absolutely break my heart.

(Can I throw in the word "forsooth" right about now? Probably not.)

How often can a writer create somebody that millions will grow to know and love for years and often does an Anne Shirley or a Harry Potter come along?

I'm scared.

I guess back when I was ten and was just reading that biography of LM Montgomery, writing the next Anne of Green Gables would be quite an easy task, as I saw myself the next great writer of my generation. (Seriously, those fifth grade dreams were all wonderful. Why can't we all freeze them?)

Now I really have no idea what I am doing or how to go about things or if I will ever "make" it at all, and when I think about the great fictional characters and literary works that I have come across in my lifetime, I am filled with such a sense of great awe and admiration and dread.

Diana Rissetto