Resonators, friends, and Charles Williams

I recently wrote about how much I enjoyed Bandersnatch by Diana Pavlac Glyer, and I am sorry but I still have more to say so buckle up, buttercup. You better be on board the Bandersnatch train because it’s about to leave the station. (I don’t know, I have a headache.)

Yet another thing Glyer talked about that I loved was the concept of “resonators” when it comes to writing friends and colleagues. Resonators are a writer’s key allies in the fight to produce good writing, and they turn out to be wonderful friends, as well. Here’s how Glyer describes a resonator:

“…anyone who acts as a friendly, interested, supportive audience … they show interest, give feedback, express praise, offer encouragement, contribute practical help, and promote the work to others. … they are enthusiastic about the project, they believe it is worth doing, and they are eager to see it brought to completion. But more importantly, they show interest in the writer — they express confidence in the writer’s talents and show faith in his or her ability to succeed. They understand what the writer is attempting. They catch the vision and then do all they can. Resonators help innovators to make the leap from where they are to where they need to be.”

While all the Inklings fit this description to some degree, I think she’s really modeling this concept after the man who is, consequently, now my writer/friend role model. Nope, not C.S. Lewis. (Surprise!) Lewis used to be, but my passion for him as an intellectual has cooled. My new favorite is Charles Williams. Glyer’s short profile of Williams is absolutely glowing, and it’s not built out of her bias and favoritism. Look at these descriptions:

“All of the Inklings encouraged one another, but Charles Williams seems to have been uniquely gifted at it. Williams’ biographer, Alice May Hadfield, explains that Williams had this effect on everyone he met, whether a stranger at a bus stop or an old, familiar friend. She summarizes his impact as follows: ‘C.W. could make each one seem important and interesting, a vital gift to most of us, but even more than that, he could make life important and interesting, not some life removed from us by money, opportunity or gifts, but the very life we had to lead and should probably go on leading for years.'”

Auden described being his friend thus: “In his company, one felt twice as intelligent and infinitely nicer than, out of it, one knew oneself to be.” 

And from Gerard Hopkins, a colleague of Williams at Oxford University Press: “He found the gold in us and made it shine.”

How wonderful is all that? Doesn’t that sound like someone you want to have in your life, regardless of whether or not you write? I want to be that kind of person. I want to have that kind of person in my life. (My husband is very much like this.) There is plenty of criticism to be found in the world and not nearly enough of that kind of genuine love, excitement, and encouragement.

Then, writing and friendship aside, Williams also seems to have had a very poignant and beautiful attitude towards life:

“It seemed to Williams that here was a principle. Everyone, all the time, owes his life to others. It is not only in war that this is true. We cannot eat breakfast without being nourished by some life that has been laid down. If our breakfast is cereal or toast, then it is the life of grains of wheat that have gone into the ground and died that we might have food. If it is bacon, then the blood of some pig has been shed for the sake of my nourishment. All day long I live on this basis: some farmer’s labor has produced this wheat and someone else’s has brought it to market and so on…”

That awareness of others, even non-human others, and the sacrifices necessary so that we may live at all, much less live our lives the way we choose and prefer to live them, is a gorgeous thing to cultivate. Best when accompanied by gratitude.

I am now on a mission to learn more about Williams and read more of his writings (though liking a person and liking his/her writing don’t always go together!). Anyone have a good biography to suggest?


Photo source.


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