L’Engle, L’Engle, Everywhere

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.

9 thoughts on “L’Engle, L’Engle, Everywhere

  1. I remember reading A Wrinkle in Time when I was younger, and being totally awed by the entire concept.

    It’s interesting what sorts of things make you want to go back to writing after having a hectic day/week/month/however long and not doing it so much. I hope you do pick up that project you mentioned!

  2. It’s interesting what inspires us to keep writing or write in the first place. I find myself going back and thinking, “I’ll never write as well as them… but maybe no one will.” On the other hand… my favorite writers aren’t universal, so maybe someday something I write will inspire someone to be a writer.

  3. I love Madeleine L’Engle! I remember making a list of all her books because I was so determined to read them all. I’m going to have to dig out my copy of A SWIFTLY TILTING PLANET now – after reading your post, I now feel like a reread is imperative.

  4. I love those books, and I have every intention of re-reading them soon. Thank you for reminding me. 🙂 And great post, I hope your project goes well if you decide to pick it back up!

  5. What a gift to get your wonderful email introducing yourself and then I link to your blog and find this fabulous ode to my grandmother! L’Engle, L’Engle Everywhere indeed! I love your website – I could learn a thing or two from you!

  6. It’s so nice to have an incredible author in your corner. 🙂 I’m sure Madeleine will push until that story comes to life.

    I felt the very same way about Lucy Maud Montgomery and her Anne books. I read and re-read and re-read them.

  7. I’m the same way with The Chronicles of Narnia: I don’t remember a time when I hadn’t read them. Age 5, when I read them first? That’s what my parents tell me, anyway. And, like L’Engle does for you, Lewis can still get me all these years later.

    Lovely post, good lady. Take the inspiration and run with it.

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