And as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream
We have a large bookshelf in our dining room…the sort of square, modular kind with sixteen cubes, all filled to the brim with books and journals. A lovely hive overflowing with words, thoughts, and dreams. Some of the books are educational and cover a diverse range of subjects from engineering and physiology, to foreign languages and psychology. Then there is a vast collection of fiction, revealing myths, fables, and stories of worlds beyond our own. There are also a couple of shelves for our well-loved D&D books that make their way into backpacks and on open on dining room tables several times a month 🙂
And finally, there is a single shelf that contains journals and notebooks… the carefully preserved archives of my life.
Throughout my childhood, I found solace in stories. I remember my mother’s bedtime tales, or her sitting by my bedside when I was ill– Grimm’s Fairy Tales were (and still are) a constant favourite. She instilled within me a love for magic, adventure, and the connections that all life shares. We travelled to wonderous places together and shared experiences that I still hold dear to this day. In spite of the troubled world around us, I grew to view life through a veil of wonder, faraway lands always waiting in the back of my mind. Before long, the role of Storyteller was passed down, and I would share stories with my little sisters at night before bed. Sometimes I would read from a book (I think I can still recite much of “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” from memory), sometimes making it up together as the night wore on, eventually whisking us away to some magical land once we fell asleep.
If I wasn’t telling stories with my sisters, I would write them in journals I kept tucked away, out of sight in my room. My secretive scribbling created tales of adventure, heroes, and magic…places I wished had existed, places I wished I could travel to. I would record my hopes and dreams for the future, fears and joy, and events that came to pass over the years. Rarely did I share what I wrote, preferring instead to squirrel it all away. I created a secret refuge that no one else could see.
Over the years, as I grew in age and self-assurance, I began to share my stories…selectively, carefully. For so long, writing had been my escape; my selfishly guarded haven that none but I could enter. I could be anyone, do anything…the restrictions of the real world floated away with each letter scrawled on paper. Nothing was more exciting than a blank page, full of possibility and potential. Those pages were my closest confidantes, containing boundless worlds for my young mind to explore but, in time, I realized I wanted to share those worlds, to see if I could find kindred spirits who shared that same desire of creation and imagination. After all, aren’t adventures are much more exciting if you have others to explore with?
Today, writing still is an essential outlet, and my collection of journals continues to grow, some filled from cover to cover, others containing the precious beginnings of new tales. New worlds have grown from seeds planted long ago and I have found others who are just as enthusiastic about stories and tales as I am. We often create them together, gathered around a table, with books before us and dice in hand. I continue to find solace through paper and ink, but I’ve found meaning in sharing those inner thoughts with others in ways that a younger me never could…but now and then, I thumb through pages written long ago, and find joy in returning to the worlds of my childhood.
I know this was a bit of a more personal post, so thanks for sticking with me 🙂 Stories are an important part of our lives, and a beautiful part of our human experience that can never be replaced. I hope that you writers and storytellers out there never stop creating and inspiring others, and always cherish those early years when you planted your first seeds that grew into the amazing worlds you create today!