Daily Archives: February 28, 2020

dishes and books

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Agatha Christie once said: “The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.” So did Jane Austen, who used to write before preparing a meal for her elderly father and after washing the dishes. And there was Laura Ingalls, an incredible pioneer woman tenaciously grasping on her aspiration to write while guiding her poor family to the long and winding climb to long-term financial security.  Then there was Lucy Maude Montgomery working full time as a teacher and writing full time to arrive one day as an established writer. Now enter Christine De Pisaner, a single mother of three children and mother, employed as a full-time supervisor at a scriptorium in the Late Middle Age France. What they had in common was the inexhaustible self-discipline and the independent will that drove them to spur their creativity on the craft of writing while juggling with their existential needs of life.

In fact, the figure of Christine De Pisan stands scintillating amid the somber Gothic spheres of cathedrals and gargoyles in the Late Middle Ages. She was the first professional woman writer making a living out of writing to support her three children and mother on her own against the custom of remarrying as a widow. Pisan was a precocious, voracious reader at a very young age, wallowing herself in books, soaking up in knowledge gained from hours of reading at the royal place of the Louvre. Upon her husband’s death, Pisan worked at a scriptorium where she supervised the works of calligraphers, miniaturists, and bookbinders while writing in her spare time. It was during this time of employment Pisan began to write for livelihood under the aegis of King Charles VI, attracting European royal patronage of Phillip II of Burgundy, Queen Isabella of Bavaria, and England’s Earl of Salisbury, despite the fact that England and France fought against each other during the Hundred Years’ War. But Pisan’s feats of words and erudition triumphed over the vortex of the war and communicated to Taste and Reason universal in humanity by which her love of France and admiration of the Virgin Maid of Orleans were sublimated to the epic romantic poem “The Tale of Joan of Arc”.

Pisan, Agatha Christie, Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls, and Lucy Maude Montgomery are soul sisters bound by the ambition, fortitude, and talents to express their inner voices in the peculiar alchemy of literature with a burst of pep in spite of their dealings with the existential world hostile to their sensitiveness. They were writers who knew how to strike the chords of readers with their artistic craft and admiring independent spirits that are contemporary with our time. For they write despite life’s challenges with a resilient sense of purpose in search of a meaning of life by actualizing dreams, hopes, and values in an expression of will across a blank page in divine madness of art. You see, washing and writing are not apples and oranges.