It is most fitting that I am writing this as we mark LM Montgomery’s 141st birthday. Montgomery, for those who do not know, was the author of wonderfully timeless books (primarily) for girls, focusing mainly on ‘Anne’, ‘Emily’ and ‘Pat’.
I’ve always loved these books, although I became slightly cynical about them in my late teens, before delving back in once I read the author’s biography in my twenties. Maud Montgomery was not a sunshine and roses personality – not all the time, anyway – and her work ethic leaves me feeling lethargic. She persevered, and she got places.
This is more than enough cause for admiration. I don’t know if I would have liked her all that much in person; but I like her in inspiration. You see, her spark for writing Anne of Green Gables is akin to my method of finding interesting stories and deriving something extra from the everyday world. She actually found a newspaper snippet about an elderly couple who adopted an orphan boy. By mistake, a girl was sent to them. From this small tweak of humanity, the stage was set for a story telling phenomenon. Anne – the fictional echo of that orphan girl – has since become the ‘kindred spirit’ of readers the world over.
I was reminded of the way in which quirky, seemingly small stories can capture our hearts and minds by a photograph which was reposted on the State Library of Victoria’s Instagram account recently. A visitor to the Library (the magic of the Domed Reading Room!) found a note to a late grandfather hidden deep in the pages of a book. It read – in part – ‘I will now bury this note to you deep in words inside this book. I love you grandpa. Your words are buried deep in me.’
Time and place stood still for a second when I saw the image of the book with the note inside it, and read those words. Such a story, transcending place and time in its appeal; and yet, we all have those stories as part of our own lives. We may not recognise them, scurrying about our routines and obligations, but our everyday and our place in the world is what makes everything brilliant. Our mundane is someone else’s amazing; our seemingly quiet lives the sparks for inspiration throughout time.
We all have our small stories. But, as I find, tell and shape them, I know they are not so small at all. They are all of us.