Thursday, December 3, 2015

From Madeleine L'Engle's Brain to Mine

I love reading about other authors and their journeys. A few months ago I came across this article about Madeleine L'Engle and how although she published five novels since her mid-twenties, on her 40th birthday she found herself having trouble selling her work and received a rejection. One minute she was sobbing and vowing to abandon her typewriter only to turn around moments later and want to write another book about failure. She said she could never stop writing even if she never had another work published.

After reading this I wondered if it was possible that Madeleine's feelings were sucked from her brain and injected right into mine. No matter how many times I've threatened to quit writing, I couldn't. I can't. I start to laugh at myself when these thoughts start weaseling their way into my head. Why? Because, like Madeleine, within minutes I'm writing again. I try calling my writing friends, my support group. By the time they answer phone so I can announce with all the dramatics that I'm quitting writing, I've already started writing again.

Imagine, if on that day, Madeleine really covered her typewriter permanently. A Wrinkle in Time would never have been born. The manuscript had been turned down numerous times. I learned that it took two and a half years after the book's inception for it to be published. And as you can imagine I'm sure that more than just one editor who turned down the manuscript was crying when the book won the most prestigious honors in children's literature, the John Newbery Medal.

The other part of the article that really hit home for me was Madeleine being brutally honest about her guilt over spending so much time writing and not being able to pull her own weight financially. I'm still working on striking a balance between writing and everything else. And believe me there's a lot of everything else.When I'm writing I can feel guilty about not cleaning or spending time with friends or family. This is especially true when the writing I'm doing isn't resulting in any financial gains because much of what I write doesn't. On the other hand, when I'm cleaning the house or spending time with friends and family I can feel guilty about not meeting those writing goals I set for the week, month, or year.

So while the actual act of writing a great story and finding a publisher to publish it can be a struggle, the mental part of writing can be a real challenge and make us question ourselves. Thank goodness for those days when during a school visit a child says something to you that makes you tear up or you receive an email from one of your readers. Those are the moments I assure myself, "This is what I was meant to do," and whether I'm pulling my weight financially or not, doesn't matter because my heart is full even when my pockets may be empty.


Linda Bozzo has published more than 50 nonfiction books for the school and library markets. For more information about Linda and her books, you can visit her website.

Copyright 2015 Linda Bozzo


  1. I know just what you mean about writing versus managing the home!

  2. It helps to know other people share the same feelings.