Léna's Lit.Life

Léna (me): Lit, as in literature, Lit, as in light, Lit, as in a little kooky: Life.

"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, October 28, 2011

Lessons from Madeleine L'Engle: Writing as Wish Fulfillment

We have the compulsion to write for an abundance of reasons. We  write to understand our relationship to shadow, and we also write with a yearning toward the light - at least I do.

Perhaps my greatest teacher for this phenomenon was witnessing the way my grandmother Madeleine L'Engle lived, and what was manifested in her writing. My Gran was devout, yet she was also known to raise her fist at God. The tenet of love conquering all that is so ingrained in her writing is wish fulfillment - it is the writing herself that brought her to her faith. In Wrinkle, she was Meg, struggling with all of the Divine questions.

As an only, lonely child, she always wanted a large family, so she wrote about large families, and intertwined her characters throughout her books so she never had to say goodbye. (This is one of my favorite pictures of my Gran - when she was Madeleine Camp. 14 years old, and already writing up a storm!)

And she created a large family - not only in her fiction and her biological family, but in extending her generosity to her readers. They too, became like family.

And who doesn't want love to conquer all, for the "goodness" in the world and in ourselves to outweigh the "badness". We don't all have to believe in the same gods to be on the same page about that one.

I wish that she could have read Edges. I know she would have appreciated me writing about god du jour. I know she would have applauded that my ending wasn't neat and tidy, that it was true to life.

We write to express our hopes and dreams. We write to find our faith. We write to know ourselves.

At least I do. What about you?
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50 comments:

  1. Love, love, love this essay! You've gotta re-work this for another publication!

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  2. I agree with Keith above. This is extraordinary.
    Start with the writer's publications. Surely they would want this one. I am going to reread and to share with others...and print it to keep for myself. Thanks!

    The local Epsic. church asked me to speak at a luncheon on topic of my choice. I have no idea and am not a member of that church! Then I am learning these people don't know Miss M...maybe I can share her work (including Edges) with them!

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  3. "And who doesn't want love to conquer all, for the 'goodness' in the world and in ourselves to outweigh the 'badness'."

    Indeed! Thanks for posting.

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  4. Thanks all for your comments! I should definitely take a look at all of the blogs I've written about Gran and see if I can rework them into something publication worthy. In the meantime, I am so glad that you appreciate and enjoy my efforts! xo

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  5. Love this so much! The picture is almost exactly how I picture Meg Murry in my head.. minus the dog. (You know, because Fort was HUGE, and all.)

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  6. Thanks Michele - it's interesting - she had small dogs when she was younger, and then larger dogs when she raised her own family.

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  7. I write to express the true sides to life, I have a firm belief that not all stories should end happy, because the fact of life is it isn't always happy. I tend to use a mixture of faith in self and the hope that something greater than just ourselves is out there to help shape us.

    I really enjoyed your use of god du jour in Edges! Absolutely fantastic, and your ending just made me want to jump up and fist pump the air! I love when an ending leaves you with a chance to envision more! Yours did that for me!

    You are a fabulous writer AND essayist!

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  8. Ian - you just made my day! So happy that you connected with Edges, and that you are a teen who takes this process as a healing art seriously. xoxo

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  9. Lena, I just finished Edges and have been letting it brew in my head for a few days now. I have to go back and read it again... Loved it. It was resonant. I want to visit Moab now but I will probably be disappointed when I don't find your people there...

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  10. Thank you, thank you, thank you, VFreddog! I am so glad that you enjoyed it - if you have the time, would you be so kind as to post a short review on Goodreads and/or Amazon? Every great review helps!

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  11. Fabulous! Yes, my writing has a day dream quality to it. And in CORRODED, the WIP I'm polishing, the main character is a lot like me--but she breaks through that risk-taking-line that I never crossed as a teen.

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