For a large part of my childhood we lived in upstate New York, in the middle of a very large game preserve. Except for the hunting season, I pretty much had all that lovely forest to myself and a couple of playmates who lived on the big dairy farm next door. The forest became the backdrop for acting out stories involving everything from Robin Hood’s Merry Men to Disney’s Swamp Fox to various alien worlds (saw “Forbidden Planet” at a very early age and was imprinted for life with the love for science fiction and fantasy). Oddly enough all these adventures involved one intrepid girl fighting beside the heroes, with her two sidekicks, and saving the day. A lot.
I made fantastic costumes from the boxes of old clothes in the attic and we traipsed around the woods in those, brandishing toy swords or ray guns as required. Halloween wasn’t a big deal there because the distances between homes was just too much for trick or treating. But I played make believe year round, not just October 31st. Well, ok, in the winter we stayed inside and played paper dolls and such.
And my neighbors had horses. Horses we were allowed to ride when we were older. Pretty much anyone who was ever a young girl knows what heaven that was.
Eventually I grew up, we moved to a big Southern city – talk about culture shock! (In a good way…) And entering seventh grade was another adventure of a different kind. Middle school, high school, college… I started writing my stories down, began developing my own characters and giving them adventures. (Although a close observer might have justifiably wondered if there wasn’t some influence creeping in from Star Trek, Robert H. Howard, Andre Norton, the Rat Patrol…..)
Next I graduated to writing in my own voice as I got married, had children, experienced more of real life. I love writing. It’s like breathing to me – must do it. I was born with an excess of imagination and writing soaks it all up, turns it into something fun and enjoyable that others can enjoy with me, hopefully. (Not sure my two childhood girl friends were really AS into running around the forest being Merry Men as I was!)
I can’t imagine not thinking about plots and people and places. That part’s easy. Making myself write it down in the first draft is kind of easy. Doing all the necessary editing to make it really sharp and cohesive and enjoyable to anyone who isn’t me – that’s the hard part!
What kind of imaginative adventures did you have as a kid? How do you keep that spirit alive in yourself as an adult?