Books: Lighthouses on the Sea of Time

Sometimes as a writer, particularly as a novelist who has not yet found a publisher for my novel, I get discouraged. I wonder why I am still putting in the hundreds of hours I have already invested in the writing.

Then I stumble on a quote in my reading that comforts, reassures, and empowers me to take up my mechanical pencil once again.

Such is the following, written by the historian, Barbara Tuchman, and included in Leonard Goss and Don Aycock’s The Little Handbook to Perfecting the Art of Christian Writing, page 8.

Here are Tuchman’s thoughts on books:

Books are carriers of civilization. Without books, history is silent, literature is dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill. Without books, the development of civilization would have been impossible. They are the engines of change, windows on the world, lighthouses erected in the sea of time. They are companions, teachers, magicians, bankers of the treasure of the mind. Books are humanity in print.

Don’t you love it! The phrase “lighthouses erected in the sea of time” captivates me, and inspires me to create a work that will be a light for my readers.

Of course, nowadays, it is not just paper, cloth, and leather books that serve this purpose, it is plays, newspapers, magazines, e-books, videos, websites, and blogs as well. Yet at their heart, all require the same thing—someone who had an idea, thought about it, considered its pros and cons, imagined new variations of it, and wrote it down.

I like that as a historian, Tuchman included literature in the realm of vital words we would be missing without books. And I am energized and inspired to serve well in the literary realms to which I’ve been called.