One of my favorite L'Engle stories, apart from the one that follows, comes from one of her nonfiction books -- I don't now remember which. In it she describes legions of white-bearded Old Testament prophets, their faces raised to the sky, shouting up at God, incredulously: "You want me to do what!?" There are still days when I know just how they felt!
It would have been a supreme privilege to have able to meet Madeleine L'Engle, but she died in 2007, before I had the opportunity. To mark her birth and celebrate her life, I am reprinting this, one of my most popular blog posts.
Feeling rejected? When you read L'Engle's story, I guarantee you won't be dejected!
Author Madeleine L'Engle received two years' worth of rejections from 26 publishers for her novel A Wrinkle in Time, which, once it was finally published in 1962, went on to win major awards and be translated into more than a dozen languages.
Toward the end of that two-year period, L'Engle covered up her typewriter and decided to give up -- on A Wrinkle in Time and on writing. Then on her way downstairs to the kitchen, a revelation: an idea for a novel about failure. In a flash, she was back at the typewriter.
"That night," as she explained in April 1993 on the PBS documentary Madeleine L'Engle: Stargazer, "I wrote in my journal, 'I'm a writer. That's who I am. That's what I am. That's what I have to do -- even if I'm never, ever published again.' And I had to take seriously the fact that I might never, ever be published again. ... It's easy to say I'm a writer now, but I said it when it was hard to say. And I meant it."
Today, the bibliography on L'Engle's web site lists 62 works spanning the period from 1944 through 2005, plus a 63rd, published posthumously in 2008. Sadly, Madeleine L'Engle died in September 2007.
"I cannot possibly tell you how I came to write A Wrinkle in Time," her New York Times obituary quotes her as having said. "It was simply a book I had to write. I had no choice."
Whether you're published or not, if you're writing, you are a writer.
Need some help believing that? watch the video meditation, "You Are A Writer." The audio was drawn from The Voice of the Muse Companion: Guided Meditations for Writers.