Last week during my tai chi class, I trained with a more experienced student. At the end of the class, my instructor informed me that I should tell my classmate, "Thank you, older sister" (in Chinese), not because Susan is older than I am, but because she's more experienced. I will spare you the details of how meaningful I find this in terms of the distinction between taekwondo and tai chi culture. I'm just mentioning it to explain why I was dwelling on the sister issue while reading Reflections on the Magic of Writing by Diana Wynne Jones this past week.
Reflections is a collection of Jones' short nonfiction pieces written for magazines, speeches, and professional groups over several decades. She collected them herself a few months before she died, meaning these articles were ones she felt had particular significance. One of the things I like about this collection is that because it isn't written and edited all in one piece, there is repetition here. The repetition creates recurring themes related to Jones' attitudes about her work.
But I really like about this collection is that so many of Jones' attitudes are ones I share. She talks about creating experiences with her writing. I've thought of writing as creating worlds. She objects to writing that is supposed to instruct. Dear heavens, how I hate that. Over and over again I'm finding things in this book that make me feel that I've found some kind of soulmate.
Oh, and though there are a couple of chapters here on heroes, if Jones even mentions The Hero's Journey, I missed it.
And, finally, the book concludes with an address one of her son's gave at her funeral in which he talks about the tweets they'd seen recently about his mother's books being comfort books for this one or that one. Jones' Chrestomanci novels are my Number One comfort books.
There's just been an amazing amount for me, personally, in this book, making me feel an incredible connection to this woman I will never know.
August 16, 2014: Diana Wynne Jones should be referred to as "Jones," as corrected above, and not as "Wynne Jones."