Blogger: Wendy Lawton
A couple of years ago I got one of my favorite kinds of calls. It was an offer to let me go through the library of a young pastor who died in 1963. His widow was preparing to give up her home and knew she could no longer keep all his books. I was to take anything I wanted before the book reseller was to come. Happily, everyone knows how much I love buying pastors’ libraries—especially those books that are marked with notes and underlines.
I ended up with three boxes of wonderful classics—several C.S. Lewis American first editions, first edition Bonhoeffers, O. Hallesby, sets of G. Campbell Morgan, A. W. Tozer, Thelicke and others. ::Sigh:: My shelves are filled with new-old treasures.
As I began to thumb through the books, planning which I’d read first, I noticed the difference in the interior design and writing style of these classics. Most are dense. Small type, long paragraphs, long sentences and few divisions and sections. What a difference from the nonfiction books being published today. Off-putting to modern readers.
It reminded me how important white space is. The books being published today allow for plenty of white space with pull quotes, sidebars and sections. Even novels look different to the eye. No more long paragraphs of description—pages need to be broken up with dialogue. White space.
I look forward to discovering the buried treasure in these books but I must say that I appreciate our interior book designers of today. Some ideas are so weighty, they need to have a little white space around them to give us pause to let the wisdom soak in.
The funny thing is, as I tried to design an attack for reading these treasures, I realized my own reading calendar is every bit as dense. It’s not just books that are crammed— our lives need white space as well. I crave time to read non-work reading. I need time to putter around the garden and to try out new recipes. I am a better friend, a better wife, a better mom and grandmother. . . even a better agent when I design white space into my over-packed life. We can’t be creative without time to dream, time to look out the window.
G. K Chesterton didn’t know he was referring to white space when he said: “The modern world has far too little understanding of the art of keeping young. Its notion of progress has been to pile one thing on top of another, without caring if each thing was crushed in turn, People forgot that the human soul can enjoy a thing most when there is time to think about it and be thankful for it. And by crowding things together they lost the sense of surprise; and surprise is the secret of joy.”
What about you? How do you write to allow for white space? How do you create white space in your life? Do you love the old classics? If so at the end of your comment, write the word classics. I’ll put your name in a hat and choose one of you to receive a duplicate classic from my library, just for the fun of sharing.