Corey Latta, Director of College & Young Adults at CUMC, recently received word that his book proposal, Lewis on Writing: What The Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Apologist, Theologian, Memoirist Teaches Us About the Craft of Writing, has been accepted for publication by Cascade Books (an imprint of Wipf & Stock). This will be the first book written about C.S. Lewis that exclusively collects and looks at his advice on (and excellent examples of) the craft of writing.
Here’s more info from a recent Q&A with Corey:
Q. Tell us about your call to write.
A. I’ve known two things my entire adult life: I’m called to teach and I’m called to write. When I surrendered to the ministry at 19 years old, teaching and writing were my immediate desires. Those desires were burned in my heart then and are stronger than ever now, especially the desire to write.
I started reading ferociously—anything I could get my hands on—and writing devotional material, poetry, as well as non-fiction in my early 20s. I haven’t let up since then. For me, writing has never been a choice. I can’t really stop doing it. The verse that comes to mind is Jeremiah 20:9, where the prophet wants to stop preaching but simply can’t: “If I say, ‘I will not mention him or speak any more in his name, there is in my heart a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am tired of holding it back, and I cannot.” That’s how writing feels to me. It’s what God has called me to, and I have to serve Him by being faithful to it.
Q. What’s the release date for the book?
A. I submit the manuscript in November (I’ve only written the introduction at this point), so it should come out in January 2016.
Q. Why did you want to write a book about C.S. Lewis?
A. I wanted to write this book because Lewis’ writing style has influenced me more than any other prose writer, living or dead. Years of pouring over Lewis’ work, both for pleasure and scholarly purposes, have indelibly impressed upon me the importance of effective language to vehicle—or omnibus, if you like—profound ideas. A watershed moment in my writing life came when my dissertation advisor, an accomplished Milton scholar, Anglophile and avid Lewis lover, made a comment that would both challenge my view of Lewis and call my craft to a higher plane of prose. My dissertation analyzed C.S. Lewis, T.S. Eliot and W.H. Auden’s theology of time, as influenced, I argued, by French philosopher Henri Bergon’s theory of duration. In the fray of revisions, after submitting a relatively rough portion of my chapter on Lewis, my advisor said, “You’re writing about one of the most clear and articulate writers of the 20th century, so you had better write about him in a worthy manner.” She was right. I had better. And I did.
When I began to pay close attention to the way Lewis wrote, I appreciated what he wrote about all the more. His writing does not only transmit his ideas, it also vivifies them. The danger of self-protection in The Four Loves finds its force in the alliterative cadence of Lewis’ syntax when he warns that the invulnerable heart “will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” It’s Lewis’ mastery of the asylumed image that makes an otherwise obvious idea so forcible: “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” Again, “Aim at Heaven and you will get Earth ‘thrown in’: aim at Earth and you will get neither,” which Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, is a profound truth, one around which I’ve tried to center my life. But the power of this proposition, what actually deploys this Matthean 6:33 idea, is its functional diction, its repetitive rhythm at the level of syntax, its play on future and present tense, its simple clarity.
Q. Tell us about the book’s long title: Lewis on Writing: What The Essayist, Poet, Novelist, Literary Critic, Apologist, Theologian, Memoirist Teaches Us About the Craft of Writing.
A. Another reason I want to tackle this project is because no one has written on Lewis as the writer’s writer. Here you have this brilliant thinker who can write brilliantly in literally every genre, yet no one has collected his advice on or examples of writing and presented them. There is so much to learn about writing well from him. There is a sea of books on Lewis, but none like the one I’m going to write. This will be a helpful guide to seminarians, scholars, Lewis lovers, preachers and to anyone who wants to be a better writer.
Q. Any final thoughts?
A. I’m excited because of my call to write, but I’m also excited because I represent our fine church, and I’m honored if anything I do can shed positive and honoring light on our congregation.
Q. Want to hear more from Corey?
A. Listen to him Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m. on AM990 during the Speaking of God segment on the Sam Adams Show where he’ll discuss a range of basic faith-related topics.
We are blessed to have Corey on staff at CUMC and excited to see how God continues to use him to bless others.