― Orson Scott Card, Ender's Game
When I look back at the photo of me from age five, (and a few subsequent self portraits as they appear in today's blog) I see a pattern emerging... I guess some things never change.
And as for writing, childhood, and our ongoing connections and reflections, contains a wealth of inspiration! So today I am considering how my own childhood has guided my writing, and I am looking at what other writers have to say on that topic.
“Once upon a time, there was a boy. He lived in a village that no longer exists, in a house that no longer exists, on the edge of a field that no longer exists, where everything was discovered, and everything was possible. A stick could be a sword, a pebble could be a diamond, a tree, a castle. Once upon a time, there was a boy who lived in a house across the field, from a girl who no longer exists. They made up a thousand games. She was queen and he was king. In the autumn light her hair shone like a crown. They collected the world in small handfuls, and when the sky grew dark, and they parted with leaves in their hair.
Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering.”
(I have not read this particular novel, yet, but Nicole Krauss is the author of Man Walks Into A Room, which I have read and can recommend.)
“You know, I do believe in magic. I was born and raised in a magic time, in a magic town, among magicians. Oh, most everybody else didn’t realize we lived in that web of magic, connected by silver filaments of chance and circumstance. But I knew it all along. When I was twelve years old, the world was my magic lantern, and by its green spirit glow I saw the past, the present and into the future. You probably did too; you just don’t recall it. See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God’s sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they’d allowed to wither in themselves.
After you go so far away from it, though, you can’t really get it back. You can have seconds of it. Just seconds of knowing and remembering. When people get weepy at movies, it’s because in that dark theater the golden pool of magic is touched, just briefly. Then they come out into the hard sun of logic and reason again and it dries up, and they’re left feeling a little heartsad and not knowing why. When a song stirs a memory, when motes of dust turning in a shaft of light takes your attention from the world, when you listen to a train passing on a track at night in the distance and wonder where it might be going, you step beyond who you are and where you are. For the briefest of instants, you have stepped into the magic realm.
That’s what I believe.
The truth of life is that every year we get farther away from the essence that is born within us. We get shouldered with burdens, some of them good, some of them not so good. Things happen to us. Loved ones die. People get in wrecks and get crippled. People lose their way, for one reason or another. It’s not hard to do, in this world of crazy mazes. Life itself does its best to take that memory of magic away from us. You don’t know it’s happening until one day you feel you’ve lost something but you’re not sure what it is. It’s like smiling at a pretty girl and she calls you “sir.” It just happens.
These memories of who I was and where I lived are important to me. They make up a large part of who I’m going to be when my journey winds down. I need the memory of magic if I am ever going to conjure magic again. I need to know and remember, and I want to tell you.”
“Because children grow up, we think a child's purpose is to grow up. But a child's purpose is to be a child. Nature doesn't disdain what lives only for a day. It pours the whole of itself into each moment. We don't value the lily less for not being made of flint and built to last. Life's bounty is in its flow, later is too late. Where is the song when it's been sung? The dance when it's been danced? It's only we humans who want to own the future, too. We persuade ourselves that the universe is modestly employed in unfolding our destination. We note the haphazard chaos of history by the day, by the hour, but there is something wrong with the picture. Where is the unity, the meaning, of nature's highest creation? Surely those millions of little streams of accident and willfulness have their correction in the vast underground river which, without a doubt, is carrying us to the place where we're expected! But there is no such place, that's why it's called utopia.”
When I was doing my usual visual romp today, I came across this short, well spoken video:
I especially like the phrase and the idea of "a constant vigilance over one's own conduct." It holds me accountable and offers me hope.
by Cheryl Hicks
My darker self says
life is usually about not
getting what you want.
Like being born.
It’s never a matter of choice,
but for some, the retrospective self
tries repeatedly to wish it away.
Mostly I try not to think about it.
Or about my older brother
who lived three days.
Or about the fact that I was born
less than a year after he died.
Or about the stories I’ve heard
about my father’s fingerprints
on my mother’s neck
as she went into premature labor
on a wet day in late October.
My brother will never have a book written about him.
He lived no stories and he had no name.
So I am writing about him today,
about wanting to feel close to him,
like the space of one minute on the clock face
must be close to all the others,
no matter how minute the connection
at the center of the circle remains.
Today I am pretending to be his replacement;
pretending that I once burst out of a wasted womb
and onto the scene like an enthusiastic stand-in.
And today I am making stories--
enough for two people.
Life has enough challenges...
Click below for suggested topics:
Twenty Two Writing Prompts That Jog Childhood Memories
― P.G. Wodehouse