After being given permission to throw myself into writing, I was faced with a frustrating period of literary paralysis. There I was, with no obstacles apart from the demands of two small children, but less able to put pen to paper than I have been for years.
As I sat staring at the blank pages of my notebook I finally had to admit – I was terrified. Hidden inside those blank sheets of paper I could almost see the characters smirking at me, daring me to let my ink bring them to life. What would I unleash?
A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
- George R.R. Martin
I think this also applies to writing. As a child, teenager and adult, I have loved fantasy. I couldn’t wait to join the characters on their adventures, imagining myself discovering a secret which would allow me to cast spells or meet magical creatures of unimaginable beauty. I began to realise the blank page before me could be the door to doing just that. My fear started to transform into butterflies of excitement, but I still didn’t know how to begin.
I have been writing stories for years. Whenever the mood took me and time allowed I would let words flood the page. Often, I would find myself caught in a vision that compelled me to write with such strength, when I was finally released I found tears in my eyes. I decided to wait until a compulsion of that kind once again showed me which way to go.
That night I had a dream. A scene unfolded in my mind, capturing the turning point for one of my favourite child fantasy characters, named Jasper. His story unfolds in a children’s book I have been writing at the urging of my daughter (she draws me pictures of her favourite scenes). He is one of four cousins, but the one I found hardest to see in many ways. When I woke, his story was still as fresh in my mind as if the credits had just rolled at the end of the movie.
I grabbed my notebook. Instead of taunting me, the blank pages were now an exciting canvas and I didn’t even hesitate to begin writing. There were no smirks today. The few notes I’d intended to make as a reminder when I had time to write properly, became fifteen pages in which Jasper’s story became woven into the fabric of the book and its characters. Yes, I had tears in my eyes when I finally put down my pen, feeling a little like a wind up toy that just ran out of puff.
My heart was beating a little faster than normal and if I’d looked in a mirror I’m sure I would have seen my eyes shining a little.
Perhaps one day a little boy will read Jasper’s adventure and imagine journeying beside him to a place ruled by rainbows, or a little girl will believe she can face a giant because she allowed herself to believe in the magic inside.
One day I might even meet those children or read a story I’ve inspired them to write, all because I allowed myself to dream.