The Indigo Girls have this song called “Virginia Woolf”, it’s a good tune. My favorite part of the song goes: “They published your diary, and that’s how I got to know you, The key to the room of your own and a mind without end, and here’s a young girl, on a kind of a telephone line through time, and the voice at the other end comes like a long-lost friend.”
I was on the telephone this evening and my long-lost friend was Madeline L’Engle (of A Wrinkle in Time fame, among others.)
Ms. L’Engle wrote a book called A Circle of Quiet. It’s her journals and thoughts from a life lived in the New England countryside in a place she and her family lovingly called Crosswicks. So this book is the first in a series of Crosswicks Journals.
It is by far one of my favorite books. My copy is well-loved, well highlighted and underlined and earmarked as well. And just when I thought I couldn’t underline any more, I found more passages that sang to my soul tonight.
I turn to this book every other fall it seems. Fall is my go to season for introspection. It’s not quite fall, the heat hasn’t given up just yet in my corner of the world, however the evenings are cooling nicely. The evening breeze brings with it the promise of fall.
I’ve taken to sitting outside with Ms. L’Engle this past week after dinner. The crickets aren’t as raucous as they have been all summer. Tonight a football game at the nearby high school punctuates our conversation with cheers and the muffle of an announcer’s voice.
I first read A Circle of Quite when I was nineteen. I took heart in my quest to be a writer through the encouragement of her words. What I love is they way books and the parts that touch your soul change as I myself changes. I’m a mom now, a wife, a homeowner. I’ve had a little success in the writing world, and here I am, reading Ms. L’Engle’s words and new shades, new colors that I never noticed before are rising to the surface.
I’m taking heart once again. She continues to reach out through time, through her words and inspire me. Comfort me. Give me strength and help me with my own resolve.
Tonight she talks about rejection and how she had spent so much of her thirties carving out time to write and did it while feeling like she should be a better mother, a better wife, and do better by her family financially. She was rejected time and time and time again. She gave up on her fortieth birthday when yet another rejection came in.
If you are at all familiar with my blog, then you’ve read my own despair when I thought I was getting closer and closer to the top of the publishing mountain, only to find that I hadn’t reached the top, but another outcropping.
I’ve given up a number of times. I have declared it so in the land of Nicole. I made it a feast day, designated all flags half-mast and all lights to be diminished. It was the official “I quit being a writer day.”
I have about twenty five of these feast days, and all of them end the same way. With me untangling myself from the sheets, squaring my shoulders and shaking my hand at the muses, “Oh no you don’t, you bitches. Not this time. I’ve got more to say!” I turn on my computer and begin once again down the road that holds my soul in balance.
Ms. L’Engle shared these words tonight, “I had to write. I had no choice in the matter. It was not up to me to say I would stop, because I could not. It didn’t matter how small or inadequate my talent. If I never had another book published, and it was very clear to me that this was a real possibility, I still had to go on writing.”
I too go on writing. Even if it is only for the good of my own soul, for the entertainment of my four readers, I am not me if I don’t write. Sometimes it’s a simple as that.
I had a dream that one day I would meet Ms. L’Engle. When she passed away I cried because I would never be able to sit across from her and share a cup of coffee and a few ideas. But I’m ever so grateful for this telephone line through time…whispering sweet encouragement in my ear.