Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Growth of Imagination: A Pro(B)logue Christmas Special

Any children in the room? Anybody who still sends letters to Santa, or puts out cookies and milk? Anyone who heatedly debates whether the ride around the world is possible through turbo-powered reindeer or powers of teleportation?

No? Okay then, it’s safe to read on.
Here’s the thing, dear readers. I’ve never really believed in Santa Claus.
It just wasn’t something my family did. Mom and Dad bought our presents, and we were aware of that, and we’d spaz out about all our gifts anyway. We knew of this ‘Santa’, but we knew him as nothing more than a story, or the subject of countless Christmas specials. Fiction.
It was the same thing with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy. We just never did the whole, “These things exist!” spiel. Growing up, I think it surprised me how many people had gone through a period of time when they really, truly believed that these benevolent beings were real.
                Once, I think, we convinced Mom and Dad to let the ‘tooth fairy’ bring me money. But even then, I knew they were simply giving me a quarter.
                Once, at my grandparents’ house, we put out cookies, etc. But at the time I wasn’t thinking about the wonders of a jolly man in red sneaking into the house and leaving presents. I was thinking, “I wonder whether Dad or Grandpa will be the one to eat those cookies…”
                Do I feel like I missed out on something? Do I hold some kind of grudge against my parents for depriving me of memories that other people seem to cherish?
                Not really. *shrug*
                One thing is for sure. My imagination was not stunted by our lack of gift-giving folklore. As I mentioned in one of my last posts, there are four series in my head, extensively plotted. Other books lurk in the background.
                And a few days ago, I got the new idea for a middle-grade novel involving a girl with a bag of tricks, a boy who talks to pigeons and living gargoyles, and a nun-in-training named Hornet Grey.
                Writer’s block? Ha. It strikes now and again, but my biggest problem is finding the time and motivation to get all the ideas on paper.
                So if an imagination isn’t stoked into being by an early belief in Santa and company, where does it come from?
                Honestly, I don’t fully know. I doubt anyone knows, entirely. Who can say how we get the ideas for living gargoyles, or wizarding schools, or *sigh* vampires that sparkle? There are some odd books out there, folks. Even odder than the ones I’ve mentioned. And all those odd ideas come from somewhere.
                All the odd ideas. All the plot twists that shock even the authors. All the strands of story that don’t really seem to fit together, until suddenly – in a flash – they do.
                We can’t know where all these things come from.
                But I think we can take a pretty good guess.
                My first stories were a complete rip-off of the Magic Tree House books. Shortly after reading Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld, I figured out that a series that’s been around for a while actually needs to be steampunk. The book I’m revising now is a spin on the kid-goes-to-another-world story that we see in Chronicles of Narnia. Before coming up with this latest idea, I read A Tale Dark and Grimm – a middle-grade novel.
                We may not know all the specifics of how we develop our imaginations, or the paths those imaginations take us down. But the books we read play an important part of the process, I’m sure.
                What are you reading? What books have influenced your stories? What books have made you stop and think, “How on Earth did the author come up with this?
                And happy holidays, folks.
                If you’ll excuse me, I have some books to work on.

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