She curls her body into mine, as tightly pressed as she can get. She is all flannel nighty and honey shampoo and girl. And my words get softer as the story grows.
I can never tell her stories and expect sleep. Once there were words spoken over her and her eyelids would flutter and weigh with slumber closing softly to the world but now she waits for each sentence and grasps holds, fighting back yawns for the end. The moment where everything will make sense. The rights will be wronged. The hero will conquer, the wounds will heal.
She’s seven and knows the power of redemption in a story. That to truly conquer anything there must be opposition and the stronger the peril, the more interesting the story. She is beginning to understand the protagonist isn’t always perfect, that sometimes the whole story is their struggle to oppose things within themselves that would hold them back or keep them blind to their true calling. The overly sentimental tales of nursery school now seem cloying and one-dimensional and she longs for stories that bring characters to life.
She is seven. And at seven you still dream wide open. You still dress in costumes and host tea parties with dolls and chipped porcelain cups from Goodwill filled with tap water. And it is a feast. You still make forts out of sheets and chairs and couch cushions I remind them to put back when they’re done. You still make art, and see it in playdoh and finger paints splashing a divine sculpture or an enchanting scene.
For a child will unleash their imagination with such ferocity if given the tools. The words and language and time.
In each child lives a storyteller, no matter how quiet or pensive. Each child writes the world with crayon or chalk, with imaginary friends and talking stuffed animals, with Lego creations and matchbox cars. To each child, the world over, sticks are swords or bats or the frame on which to hang another dream.
The scary parts in the depths of the closet where monsters hide at night, when the nightlight glows casting about more wicked shadows is born from the depths of imagination. They are creators of their own tales, and once created, they are enchanted by them. Involved in them to the point of trembling voices and pleas for the light left on, the door wide or the comfort of mom’s bed.
We tell tales in our dreams and our fears.
We are woven in story from birth. Who we are. The making of us. In ruins or in radiance, our beginnings start in story.
And some never tuck that back away. A few feel the need to keep the script going.
Some imagination fades with age and purpose, clouded out with responsibilities and duty, grown up life where our monsters are now finances, and health, marriage problems, and depression. Where the stories we tell ourselves are less about redemption and more about obstacles. Where we are no longer sure if the end will go as we hope, the hero will win, the story will close tidily. And when we read stories all mixed and packaged perfectly, we sniff about it suspect that it contains much more than the ingredients of real life. Because real life always comes with the crumbs and the calories, the heat of the oven and the dishes left to be done.
What if we could rewrite our narrative with a much wider text? One that strained to stay awake through the last lines and fought hard against the fading light of day, to dream wide awake.
What if we told our stories and believed they matter? What if we faced the monsters in the closet and embraced our imaginations and creativity?
Writing has been on my mind a lot this past year as I’ve blogged and connecting with so many other beautiful artists.Inspired by my poet-hearted sisters, my truth-seeking scripters, my brave and funny friends, my word loving grace soaked clan of God-women who write to make glory while pounding their keyboards, I wanted to talk about this journey. What it’s looked like for me, and maybe for you as well.
What kinds of obstacles are in our closets when we approach writing? Scheduling to inspiration, grammar to niches, kids asking for juice in the middle of your perfectly crafted sentence, jobs, paychecks and bills, and the need to do laundry every day.
We all have lives but many of us have a calling to write and I want to talk about how to make that happen.
If you want to talk all things writing, I’d love to have you along for the journey. I will be posting every Thursday until I’m done, whenever that is, on my new series. Write With All Your Heart, Soul, Mind, and Strength.