Friday, August 24, 2012

Real or Not Real?

Usually a book begs to be written when several ideas clump together. Yes, I wanted to write a story about how the unexpected could be great (see earlier post), but also I'd been thinking a lot about the importance of story and imagination and the beautiful wildness and freedom of children's imaginations.

I thought about two conversations I'd overheard between my grandchildren and their parents (these are also reprinted in the preface to The Great Unexpected):

Father:  Did you brush your teeth?
Son:  Yes.
Father:  Really?
Son:  Yes.
Father: Tell me the truth.
Son:  What is 'truth'?

-and -

Daughter:  I'm going to be a dolphin.
Mother:  Is that so?
Daughter:  Yes. I will live in the ocean.
Mother:  For real?
Daughter:  What is 'real'?

I loved those conversations. I loved being reminded that 'truth' and 'reality' are learned labels.  When we are young – or when we are writing a story – characters are as vivid as 'real' people. Reality and fantasy, past and present and future all dwell easily together. 

I wanted to explore those blurred regions.  Maybe I dance around the edges of these regions in many of my books (Fishing in the Air and  Replay come first to mind here), but in The Great Unexpected, I took these notions up (or down?) one more level.

(One young reader diving in . . .)



  1. Beautifully thought-provoking...

  2. I love those blurred regions. I can't wait to read the book and see what you found as you explored them :)

  3. I especially enjoy the bottom photo since I am now watching closely as I'm out and about to photograph people reading, then pairing a photo with a poster, painting or photograph and posting them on my blog on Mondays. My granddaughter debuted the series that I hope to continue, reading a book as your young reader is doing. I shall have to get your book for my 10-yr-old granddaughter!

    You are absolutely correct about blurred images.

  4. Those blurred regions are what really inspires true thinking.

  5. Daniela is going to love this! Thanks for posting...she raved about the book.

  6. There was a time I thought that motherhood slowed me down in my writing. And though it's true I don't get hardly any writing done while they are in the same house at the same time, my writing would be boooooring without them. I've written down the best expressions, the best quotes and stories from them. Thank goodness children remind us that imagination can be very real.

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  8. So many of the words we use have blurred meanings and can shift depending on the speaker and context. I loved that about THE GREAT UNEXPECTED...I had to wait as the reader and let everything that was uncertain fall into place at the end. Love that shadowy fern photograph and the one of your young reader.

  9. Now, you have me thinking. What do words REALLY mean and look where they take us.