I’ve been haunted by Madeleine L’Engle this week. She started tapping me on the shoulder sometime on Monday, and when I turned around, she would point at my dust-covered laptop and tilt her head as if to say, “What’s the holdup, sweetie? Why aren’t you writing? Didn’t you once send me a letter about how much you wanted to be a writer one day?”
And I would reply, “Yes, Madeleine, but things are busy right now. Very busy. And I’m tired. I’ll get around to it, I promise.”
Okay, so maybe none of that actually happened. (I’m sort of relieved that it didn’t happen. That would be super weird.) But I have been thinking about her a lot this week.
Madeleine L’Engle was the first author whose books became a part of me. I read A Wrinkle in Time at such a young age that I can’t remember a time when I hadn’t read it yet. And then I begged my mom or dad to take me to the bookstore so I could buy all her books. Many Waters, The Arm of the Starfish, A Swiftly Tilting Planet… I consumed them. Or maybe they consumed me.
I remember the first time I read A Swiftly Tilting Planet, in which the youngest Murry brother has to stop a crazy dictator from nuking the whole world. I finished it at my grandmother’s house while the rest of my family was still talking around the dinner table. As I closed the book, my heart racing, I wondered how they could all just sit there and chat like everything was normal. I mean, Mad Dog Branzillo was trying to start a nuclear war, people! And Calvin was in London! And Meg was pregnant!
Yesterday I checked out that book and another of my favorites, Troubling a Star, from the library. I am already about 50 pages in to A Swiftly Tilting Planet and I love it just as much as I loved it the other 6,000 times I’ve read it. There is something about her characters that – at the risk of sounding super cheesy – speaks to my soul. I was Meg Murry when I was younger – braces, glasses, and all. Meg and I understood each other. We still do.
This haunting by Ms. L’Engle has got me started thinking about a project I started and abandoned a long time ago – a story that I think would be enjoyed by the same kids that loved her books. Will I pick up that project again? I don’t know, but I bet if Madeleine has anything to do with it, I won’t be able to resist.