Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Lessons from Madeleine L'Engle: Artistic Temperament

I'm trying to keep my writing machine well oiled while the kids are on winter break and hop from board games, to my WIP, to making lunch, to Facebook, and now to the blog, while the kids are getting some screen time (so I can get my screen time - you dig?)

I managed to write a scene yesterday whilst watching The Lion King, and surprisingly it holds up this afternoon. (But there's something about Shrek that makes me not hear the voices of my characters . . . mysterious process, this.)

I've gotten a few very supportive emails from Madeleine L'Engle fans - thank you so much and I hope that I don't disappoint you! The footsteps she has left behind are giant, and I had avoided the call of writing seriously for fear of negative comparisons. Yet thankfully here I am, forging ahead and finding my own voice.

Gran once beautifully said: Artistic temperament sometimes seems a battleground, a dark angel of destruction and a bright angel of creativity wrestling.

How I have bemoaned having an artistic temperament! I found myself constantly careening between the dark and bright angels, the darker seemingly winning the battle when I was younger, my grandmother being the lighthouse for my boat tossing about in the storm. This is why I find myself drawn to writing for young adults, as a young adult. I remember so vividly the careening emotions, the confusions . . . and the humor of adolescence.

A few years ago, scientists discovered that that the human brain is still developing until the age of 25. I wish I had known that - my intellectual understanding might have helped me somewhat with my inner turmoil. But how lucky was I to have someone in my life who didn't pathologize teenagers, and who knew me well enough to see a kindred spirit, one with both the burden and the gift of a sensitive temperament. Gran always said that she was a late bloomer in the maturity department. I can make that same claim without hesitation!

So in writing, my inner adolescent finds hope, and I find my bright angel leading me to my Higher Self. Dark Angel, I know that you are there, but let me soothe your chaos by finding the story, okay?


  1. That's so interesting - how humans continue to mature until they arrive at the age of 25. I've noticed that people in their 30's often have similar developmental happenings and aspirations, too. It reminds me of your grandmother's thinking about time. It's such a mystery - I find this so encouraging.

  2. I agree about the non-linear aspects of emotional/spiritual growth! Thanks for the reminder . . .

  3. I always hated reading until I found Madeleine's, "A Ring of Endless Light". I felt such a closeness with Vicky and her relationship with her grandfather.
    I'm sure you will accomplish the same with your readers. Don't feel compelled to walk in her footsteps. She would probably want you to make your own,...right beside her's. :)

  4. Thank you so much for your warm and supportive words! I too felt the characters in my grandmother's books were like friends, and helped me to fall in-love with reading.

  5. Léna -- I'm another of many, many fans of your grandmother's books. She helped me survive much of the chaos of my earlier life. I look forward to reading your book!

    One of the things she said about writing stuck with me over the years: "Serve the work." It was important to her, and I think you're following the same philosophy. If you do, you won't be concerned about her giant footsteps. You'll be led along the right path by the work, and by your grandmother's spirit, which lives on in you.

  6. Thank you so much Josephine - your words mean a lot to me! And you share the same beautiful name as my mother!

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