Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tove Jansson on the Creative Process (via the Moomintrolls)

I've reread six of Tove Jansson's Moomintroll books now, the children's series for which she's best known. Once I've made my way through the final two, I'm planning an omnibus review in which I'll try to convey the magic that has me loving them even more as an adult than I did as a child. (Perhaps that should come as no surprise given that it was my recent forays into her extraordinary adult fiction that sent me off on this voyage of rediscovery⎯if you've not yet read Jansson's most recently translated adult novel, The True Deceiver, go and get yourself a copy immediately!) In the meantime, though, I wanted to share a bit of the Moomin universe with you, by way of a couple of paragraphs from "The Spring Tune," the first story in Tales From Moominvalley:

     "It's the right evening for a tune," Snufkin thought. A new tune, one part expectation, two parts spring sadness, and for the rest just the great delight of walking alone and liking it.
     He had kept this tune under his hat for several days, but hadn't quite dared to take it out yet. It had to grow into a kind of happy conviction. Then he would simply have to put his lips to the mouth organ, and all the notes would jump instantly into their places.
     If he released them too soon, they might get stuck crossways and make only a half-good tune, or he might lose them altogether and never be in the right mood to get hold of them again. Tunes are serious things, especially if they have to be jolly and sad at the same time.
     But this evening Snufkin felt rather sure of his tune. It was there, waiting, nearly full-grown⎯and it was going to be the best he ever made.

Though it's about song writing rather than story writing, it's a depiction of the creative process, and the solitude within which it often best unfolds, that resonates with me. "The great delight of walking alone and liking it." How delightful is that? Is it any wonder that I love these books?


Kathleen Jones said...

Thank you for featuring these Kate - probably the most underrated children's books of all time. And - yes - I still read them as an adult!

Wesley Adams said...

Hi, Moomin fans! Great to come across your post, thanks to Google alert. I am the Moomin editor at Macmillan Kids, the North American publisher of the series. This year we are reissuing the eight books with really fun new cover designs and reset interiors. Four books this spring, four in the fall, in honor of the 65th anniversary. For more info, please visit New editions will be available starting next month.

All best,

Wesley Adams, Executive Editor

Suko said...

Tales From Moominvalley sounds delightful (an old-fashioned word, perhaps, but it does seem to fit this story).

Dorte H said...

" ... just the great delight of walking alone and liking it."

This phrase really hit me. I think it is an important part of being a good writer (or reader): that you and your story are enough, you don´t need anyone else around you all the time.

Belinda said...

Moomim books are great! My husband is Finnish, and we've been to Muumin Land in Finland. It's a great place for kids to meet all the characters, but the books are something we can enjoy all the time at home. I'm happy to see another comment here about Moomin books being reissued in English. I'll be looking for them!

Unknown said...

One such other read a couple of days back ...and this one was like a "ha ..I knew this!" Writing with a difference - song, poetic feel with use of lengthened words. Marvelous it is.

p.s >> I tried something like that will be glad if you can take a look 'here' >