Rick asked me what inspired me to write a children's story. It's a bit of a fable, actually, about that secret place in your heart. If there is one thread in all my writing, it's that I believe there is a secret spot in our heart, a kernel of wishes we hold so dear, we don't dare tell anyone. Or if we do, we do so with a fair bit of panic, LOL.
I'm not talking about ambition or anything at all like that. It's a vulnerable place, an embarrassing place, filled with wishes that may be silly, foolish, socially "not cool," or just plain embarrassing.
But there they are, deep inside our heart.
All my stories hope to find and touch that special place in my reader's hearts. If there's any "why I write," it's that.
Saturday, while wandering the aisles, I happened across The Magician's Book, by Laura Miller.
The reason I picked it up was because it was about Narnia, my favorite series ever. And in this critical discussion of Narnia and memoir of the her journey with the series, the author professed her feelings of betrayal and anger when someone dared suggest the books were a thinly-veiled not-really-but-almost allegory for Christianity. (Exactly how I felt!)
I immediately bought the book (on my Kindle, of course), when I read how Laura Miller describes herself standing on a corner in her neighborhood as a child, yearning for the Narnia world:
...I'm wishing, with every bit of my self, for two things. First, I want a place I've read about in a book to really exist, and second, I want to be able to go there. I want this so much I'm pretty sure the misery of not getting it will kill me. For the rest of my life, I will never want anything quite so much again.
Oh my gosh, if that's not how I felt/feel about Narnia, too! And that's why the whole Christian allegory thing didn't do it for me, because let me tell you, HEAVEN IS NO MATCH FOR NARNIA.
I vividly remember sitting on my bed and bawling my heart out, after reading and re-reading through the series six or so times, because I could not visit Narnia. My mother asked me what was wrong, and it took me almost an hour to control my sobbing enough so that I could choke out that Narnia wasn't real, and I couldn't go there.
(Santa Claus, in comparison, was a mild disappointment. No tears were shed.)
Laura Miller continues, in the introduction, to remind me what it was like to be a reader, when I was a child. Remember how vivid the worlds were? Remember how you disappeared completely in the world, how you became the main character, how all your hopes and desires were brought to life in reading?
I think I've lost the purity and joy with which I read as a child. Reading Laura Miller's discussion made me realize that most of what I write is a yearning to live in those worlds I read and created as a child. There are days, even now as an adult, where I would do anything to live in Narnia, or even in one of the many worlds my imagination populates.
So all that was stirring in my head when I came home and wrote a children's story.
And today, I made a new resolution. I want to recapture that feeling of living in a story. I want to read as passionately as I did as a child. When I write, I want to make stories just as big and vivid and engulfing.
Have you ever forgotten what it was like to read as a child? Do you read differently now? Do you find, as an adult, that it is more and more difficult to recapture the same childhood joy you had while reading a book, the completeness of the experience, where you left your life and stepped inside the world of a book?
Were there any books you just wanted to live in so badly, you cried? Which were the books of your childhood that you held most dear? And did you feel it, too, as Laura Miller describes it? "For the rest of my life, I will never want anything quite so much again."
Those books we grew up with were magical, weren't they? Gosh, the love I had for my library! I still feel it, in bookstores.
Is that why we write, to recapture that magic?
Today I am grateful for the books of childhood.