One of the best parts of being a writer is reading other authors’ thoughts about the process, creativity, savoring ideas, and all the experiences that go along with putting fingers to keyboards or pens to paper. MadeleineL’Engle, who died in 2007 at age 88, had a career that spanned decades and produced 60 books, both fiction and nonfiction.
Although A Wrinkle in Time and A Swiftly TiltingPlanet are among her most celebrated novels, I’ve always been drawn to her nonfiction. Perhaps this is so because I’ve had a varied career—and I know many Heartwarming authors also started their careers in nonfiction.
Many authors have admired L’Engle because although publication didn’t come easily for her, she persisted…and persisted. Here’s her humorous take on her ten straight years of rejection:During that dreadful decade of rejection, I pinned on my workroom wall a cartoon in which a writer, bearing a rejected manuscript, is dejectedly leaving a publisher’s office; the caption says, “We’re very sorry Mr. Tolstoy, but we aren’t in the market for a war story right now.”
Since she wrote for a decade without success, it’s no wonder she also believed writing took some courage:I’m grateful I started writing at a very early age, before I realized what a daring thing it is to do, to set down words on paper, to attempt to tell a story, to create characters. We have to be braver than we think we can be…
Later, when she’d written best-selling books for young readers, L’Engle also experienced the frustration of having a few of her titles banned from libraries and schools. I imagine she thought a great deal about the courage to write when that happened. But, she also was a woman of great faith, a mystic, really, which no doubt helped her cope with rejection and seeing her books maligned.Contracts and book sales aside, she could be hard on herself, too, never quite believing she’d fully “served the work.” Like the rest of us, she wrote on deadline, so she’d finally have to let the manuscript go:
You begin to sense the point at which you have done as much revising as you can do. It’s not exactly right, you haven’t served it as well as it should be served, but that’s as far as you can go.
Comforting thought, Madeleine.
I was happy to learn that L’Engle became very attached to her characters and wrote about the same ones over and over because she wanted to find out what happened to them. Don’t we—and our readers—often feel that way about our series? It’s hard to tell a bunch of people in a favorite town that you have to pack up and move on—and you can’t take them with you, except in spirit, of course.
I found the strongest identification with this master storyteller when she described something that happened when she was away on a vacation with her family:
And suddenly into my mind came the names, Mrs. Whatsit. Mrs. Who. Mrs. Which. I turned around to the children and said, “Hey kids, listen to these three great names that just popped into my mind: I’ll have to write a book about them.”
And so, A Wrinkle in Time was born.
An author of both fiction and nonfiction books, Virginia currently lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin. She’s also a ghostwriter/editor and a coach for other authors at various stages of their careers. A Family for Jason, Book 1 of Virginia’s Back to Bluestone River series, is scheduled for release in August 2019, and book 2 will follow for the holidays.
Her other Harlequin Heartwarming books include: Girl in the Spotlight, Something to Treasure and Love, Unexpected. She also writes award-winning women’s fiction, including Island Healing, Greta's Grace and The Chapels on the Hill. All Virginia’s stories explore themes of hope, healing, and plenty of second chances.
You can add you name to Virginia’s mailing list at www.virginiamccullough.com and visit her on Facebook at Virginia McCullough and on Twitter @VEMccullough