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?
Father: Tell me the truth.
Son: What is 'truth'?
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 . . .)