Monday, September 12, 2011

A Circle of Quiet: Book Review

Yep, today we're actually talking about something other than my tumultuous week! Will wonders never cease.
I never read A Wrinkle in Time. I know, blasphemy, right? I feel like I tried it once when I was young, and never got into it. I was always far more into The Baby-Sitters' Club and Sweet Valley Twins and oh man is my face red right now. But I always just loved series of books. Animorphs. Nancy Drew. The Boxcar Children. Probably the most difficult books I read were Brian Jacques' Redwall books. Which I still think are awesome, by the way. But I've digressed wayyyy from my point, which was that Madeleine L'Engle's memoir A Circle of Quiet was really my first introduction to her writing. It only took me 26 years...
I actually finished the book a few weeks ago. It was exactly what I needed at the time. I started it just after my grandmother died, and I was in the mood for something, well, quiet. Ruminative. It didn't hurt that a lot of these ruminations were about writing, and I love reading about writing. Some choice quotes from the book:
"I'm incapable of saying anything intelligent about anything I've written. When anybody ask "What are you writing about now?" if I try to reply, the book-in-the-works sounds so idiotic to me that I think, 'Why am I trying to write that puerile junk?' So now I give up; if I could talk about it, I wouldn't have to write it."
(I am totally stealing this line. I never know what to say when people ask what I'm writing. I usually just say "fiction." Then they either give me an Exasperated Look or ask if I write about vampires. What. Why. No.)
Quoting Carl Van Vechten: "An author doesn't write with his mind, he writes with his hands."
(Dude, so true! When I started working in the restaurant, I thought it would be so fantastic--I'd plan out scenes for my book all day, then skip home and have 2000 new words before the sun went down. But it seems I can't focus without the act of writing. I got a few revelations here and there, but for the most part, I got a hell of a lot more work done when I started getting up to write at 5am. Drat.)
"I still tend to think of myself in the mirror set up for me in that one school. I was given a self-image there, and not a self, and a self-image imposed on one in youth is impossible to get rid of entirely, no matter how much love and affirmation one is given later."
(Not about writing, I know. I'm unpredictable. I just copied this down because it's true.)
"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'm glad I made this decision in the moment of failure. It's easy to say you're a writer when things are going well. When the decision is made in the abyss, then it is quite clear that it is not one's decision at all."
(This resonates with me most clearly when I'm dragging myself out of bed at 4:51am to write before work. Either I'm insane, or I'm a writer.)
"...I have found that the longer we have been married, and the more deeply I love [my husband], the less I "see" him visually. "Close your eyes," I'm in the habit of telling my students of all ages, "and think about the person you love most in the world. Do you really see him visually? Or don't you see on a much deeper level? It's lots easier to visualize people we don't know very well.""
(Love this! It's so true! In my mind, Fiance isn't his face or his body. That's all there, I guess, but all that physicality is so overshadowed by what I feel for the guy when I think about him. It truly doesn't matter if he hasn't shaved in three months, if his clothes are a mess of food stains from cooking for twelve hours, or if his hair is veering into JewFro territory. I hardly even notice.)

Lovely, right? I didn't agree with everything she wrote, but when it comes to the writing stuff, this lady and I are on the same page. (Geddit? Geddit? Har har.) Two enthusiastic thumbs up.