This has been a good week at Novel Matters. It started with beautiful Bonnie producing our first-ever video post, talking about the Cruciformity of Story-Telling and the beloved outcast; and was followed by Katy's moving post about Eyes to See and the beautiful un-beautiful.
I put together a Novel Matters calendar for us every year that shows who's to post on what day, and on each month's page I include a quote from well-known and obscure authors. Some of the quotes are humorous, some are profound. This is the quote from January: "We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out" (Ray Bradbury).
Well, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder, and as Bonnie and Katy so poignantly pointed out, it's not always what seems beautiful on the surface. Personally, I relate deeply to the outcast, but have never, ever related to the Beautiful Blonde. Or the Beautiful Brunette. Or the beautiful anything in between. I wrote in a post some time ago that "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian is one of my all-time favorite songs. The lyrics still move me as much as they did the first time I heard it: "I learned the truth at seventeen, that love was meant for beauty queens . . ." (I do hope you'll listen).
I've always been drawn to the beautiful un-beautiful that Katy wrote about on Wednesday. I used to draw and paint before I turned to writing, and one of my favorite paintings that I did was of an old Oriental woman sitting at a window, looking out on the world through eyes all-too-familiar with pain. If I manage at any time as a writer to "tip myself over and let the beautiful stuff out," it will look a lot like that woman. It will be richly layered with things that aren't so beaufiful at first glance. The novel I just completed is that kind of story. It was difficult to write, and took a lot out of me. There were days I'd rather do anything than write, anything but put myself back into that story, where I had to mine the deepest parts of myself to put a word on the page, parts I'd rather keep hidden away; parts I'd rather weren't there at all. But then, isn't that where redemption comes from? From the broken places? From a Savior who was "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief?" But the thing is, I can't see myself writing any other kind of story. I worry sometimes that, by its very nature, what I write will fall through the cracks, but I learned a long time ago that it's my job to be faithful to my call; the results belong to the Lord.
What about you? Do you more easily relate to the beautiful un-beautiful, to the beloved outcast? If so, what is your favorite example of the beautiful un-beautiful in literature?