“It’s a question that doesn’t have an answer. We, and I think I’m speaking for may writers, don’t know what it is that sometimes comes to make our books come alive. All we can do is write dutifully and day after day, giving our work the very best of what we are capable. I don’t think that we can consciously put the magic in; it doesn’t work that way. When the magic comes, it’s a gift. I heard Rudolph Serkin give a magnificent performance of Beethoven and the magic was certainly there. Rudolph Serkin’s main contribution to it is practicing eight hours a day, every day.” Madeleine L’Engle
Not surprisingly, the new movie version of Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time has given new life to this classic novel for children and sparked renewed interest in this wonderful writer. With this in mind, and inspired by Toby Stein, my friend and fellow author and poetry lover, I thought we might all share and apply some of Madeleine’s timeless wisdom:*
“When we believe in the impossible, it becomes possible, and we can do all kinds of extraordinary things.” Audrey Hepburn once astutely observed that the word impossible contains the words “I’m possible.” How true this is! The first step to accomplishing something other people say can’t be done is not to buy into their mindset. Madeleine L’Engle is the perfect example of this. Back in 1962, when she wrote her timeless sci-fi fantasy, like so many writers, she had a hard time finding a home for it. Some 26 publishers rejected her book before John C. Farrar of Farrar Straus and Giroux took it even though his firm didn’t publish kids’ books. A Wrinkle in Time went on to sell 10 million copies!
“Inspiration usually comes during work rather than before it.” One of my all-time favorite gems on writing, this reminds us that writing is mostly about perspiration and perseverance. The muse favors those who favor her by showing their devotion to their calling (See Muse Management – one of my favorite posts!) When we write and keep on writing, when we show up ready to give our best, when we persist in not abandoning a project even though we’ve hit roadblocks in bringing it to life, the universe rewards us.
“If we are not willing to fail we will never accomplish anything. All creative acts involve the risk of failure.” This says it all, doesn’t it? Every day, when we sit down to write, we risk failure, but without taking that risk, we give up the opportunities to share our work, to succeed, and to experience the joys of our creative journey.
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book is too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” When Toby passed on this quote to me, I was thrilled. As someone writing a children’s novel, it gladdened my heart and inspirited me. Children have the imagination, the skills, and the heart, to be fearless and creative readers and as writers, we owe them the very best we have to give.
Bravo, Madeleine – inspire on! Bravo, Toby – write on!
* These quotes come to us via the March 7 online issue of Writer’s Digest.