I usually am not able to answer when people ask me who my general hero is, or I just say my mom or dad and give a generic answer. But Madeleine L’Engle is definitely my specific, writerly hero.
Yesterday I went down to my university library and found the Madeleine L’Engle (six-inch long) section. I checked out Two-Part Invention, which is a sort of companion-y book to A Circle of Quiet, which is the book that inspired all the puddle of forgiveness philosophy from the summer. TPI is subtitled The Story of a Marriage, and it’s all about her marriage to Hugh Franklin. Well, it’s mostly about her marriage to Hugh Franklin. Some of it’s about her childhood/girlhood, and some of it is about her life as a writer.
As usual when it comes to Madeleine L’Engle, I finished the book and hugged it, this time thinking about my writerly aspirations and how they’ve sort of been pushed to the back burner for the last, oh, three-ish years. I haven’t done much as far as writing novels since I was a sophomore. Yesterday after reading Two-Part Invention I realized how much I really want to write a book.
And then I had another realization.
For years when I started my novels, writing the dedication page first like any little kid who thinks she’s going to get published, I wrote this: “This book is for everyone anywhere and anyone anywhere, but I sincerely hope it finds its way to my dad, my mom…” etc. I have changed my mind about that.
To reference The Love Letters, it is arrogance in me to think that my work will speak to everyone, everywhere. (That’s provided my work is ever finished!) It could speak to anyone anywhere, but that’s not to say it will. I don’t profess to be able to write books that everyone will love. I am no John Green.
I realized, in fact, that I don’t need to write something everyone everywhere will love. It’d be nice, but I am not after that. What I want is to write something someone will love, somewhere, somehow, sometime.
Think about it. Madeleine L’Engle is rather obscure now. Her books are hard to find. She’s just one name in a tiny corner of a university library in equally obscure Pocatello. But someone, somewhere (me) loves her and her work. (Hannah does too.) I should think that’d be good enough for her. It’d be good enough for me too. She is not famous, and yet she is great. I’d rather be great than famous.
I’d rather my fan base be one dreaming girl in a dusty, lonely, nameless town, than a hundred thousand idiotically screaming people. I’d like to think I touched the heart of someone like me.
The greatest compliment anyone could ever give me is that I have been to them what Madeleine L’Engle has been to me.