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Madeleine L'Engle Herself: Reflections on a Writing Life

Madeleine L'Engle

Top 10 Best Quotes

“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”

“When I think of the children’s books I love best, I realize that they’re written on a great many different levels. Now the first level is story. A good children’s book must hold the reader’s interest. It must be first and foremost a good story that will make the reader keep wanting to go on turning the pages. But underneath that good story is buried treasure. No one person will find all of the treasure, but each will discover special joys.”

“We are never satisfied with what we have done. We know that our best is never adequate. If I had to be satisfied with what I have written I’d still be on my first novel. But I wrote what was for me the best book I could write at that moment in time.”

“The more limited our language is, the more limited we are; the more limited the literature we give to our children, the more limited their capacity to respond, and therefore, in their turn, to create. The more our vocabulary is controlled, the less we will be able to think for ourselves. We do think in words, and the fewer words we know, the more restricted our thoughts. As our vocabulary expands, so does our power to think.”

“The extraordinary thing is as artists, as human beings, we do learn from pain. I once was having a very casual lunch with a couple of people, one of whom was an Episcopal bishop. In the conversation, I happened to say that all of my best work had come out of pain. He said, “Let’s hope something terrible happens to you soon.” I didn’t appreciate it. But that is how it is. We grow through our growing pains, through the things that hurt us, through people failing us, through friends betraying us.”

“The artist knows total dependence on the unseen reality. The paradox is that the creative process is incomplete unless the artist is, in the best and most proper sense of the word, a technician, one who knows the tools of his trade, has studied his techniques, is disciplined. One writer said, “If I leave my work for a day, it leaves me for three.” I think it was Artur Rubinstein who admitted, “If I don’t practice the piano for one day I know it. If I don’t practice it for two days my family knows it. If I don’t practice it for three days, my public knows it.”

“Juvenile or adult, War and Peace or Treasure Island, Pride and Prejudice or Beauty and the Beast, a great work of the imagination is one of the highest forms of communication of truth that mankind has reached. But a great piece of literature does not try to coerce you to believe it or to agree with it. A great piece of literature simply is.”

“It is not only in the religious writings of various peoples that I find truth. I find that my forbearance is widened, my understanding of human potential expanded, as I read fiction, even if it is only to disagree with a narrow or ugly view of life, or to turn away from discontent. The fiction to which I turn and return is that which has a noble understanding of God’s purpose for all that has been created.”

“I started to write when I was five, and as I look back on fifty years of this work, I am forced to see that my own continuing development involves pain. It is pain and weakness and constant failures which keep me from pride and help me to grow.”

“A story where myth, fantasy, fairy tale, or science fiction explore and ask questions moves beyond pragmatic dailiness to wonder. Rather than taking the child away from the real world, such stories are preparation for living in the real world with courage and expectancy. A child who has been denied imaginative literature is likely to have far more difficulty in understanding cellular biology or post-Newtonian physics than the child whose imagination has already been stretched by reading fantasy and science fiction.”

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Book Keywords:

children, technique, love, writing, creative-process, vocabulary, practice, science-fiction, satisfaction, study, courage, fantasy, effort, joy, imagination, growing, christ, treasure, creation, fairy-tale, learning, experience, story, artists, life-lessons, myth, children-s-literature, communication, authors, thinking, pain, growth, literature, author, language, light, artist, discipline, fiction, reading

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