I often wander down side paths and find unexpected delights. Especially in reading and writing.
Now that I've finished writing Desert Fire: Befriending the Monster in my Mind*, I'm looking forward to immersing myself again in my novel. However, I've taken a side path in its creation because I found it starting to shimmer with touches of magic. I probably ought to have known that I couldn't write a novel without bits of mysticism or fantasy.
When I was listening to Krista Tippett's conversation with Maria Tatar, for a second time I might add, I realized that a soft voice was whispering to me from a barely visible trail leading into a thicket off the main path that is my manuscript. Is this why I haven't been able to finish it? There was some sparkle missing?
The dialogue between Tippett and Tatar was "The Great Cauldron of Story: Why Fairy Tales Are for Adults Again." (give it a listen, or read the transcript -- I'm sure you'll enjoy it!) Their chat led me to consider not only my interest in adult stories (books, movies, TV) of fantasy and fairy tales but also into my dimly recalled childhood. Unfortunately, while I remember having a passion for reading and books since before I started school, my poor memory leaves a vast vacancy of details. The rare foggy peeks into my early childhood seem to guide me toward Wind in the Willows and, as I wrote about earlier, to Little Burnt-Face. How could I resolve this loss or revive some missing memories?
I have decided to explore children's literature. See if perhaps I could revive some childhood memories and, even if not, create a new association with or appreciation for the stories that I'm sure had an impact upon me -- even if I don't recall the experience. My first step was to buy Maria Tatar's Enchanted Hunters: the power of stories in childhood. Marvelous book! I enjoyed how she wove together the histories of oral storytelling with that of children's literature, and presented a wide range of authors and tales. In addition, she addressed how we think that children may be understanding and using stories differently than adults do, and how the writing itself varies.
I'm going to tip-toe into classic children's literature and see what happens. Maybe my child-self will allow me to wander in wonder for a while … and allow some magic to flow freely through my writing.
"The world of print, like nature, offers many points of entry to feelings of wonder. When we retire to the fabled armchair or turn on electronic devices such as Kindle (the name is telling), we have the chance to enter story worlds constructed by words and images--a second nature that helps us recapture a sense of wonder. Most children in this country begin reading on their own around the time that the real world begins to lose its magic."
~ Maria Tatar
* Desert Fire will be available in June.