Friday, April 1, 2011

All About Me

As a little girl in “Tiny Town” Illinois I grew up playing in the forest and streams, fishing and swimming, and making mud pies under the cover of waving stocks of corn. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect setting for my imagination to grow or a more fertile place for a child to bloom. I lived in a town so small it barely made the map, on a farm tucked away neatly against drainage ditches and forest lined fields. Most often I was found following behind my brother, Ken, just trying to keep up. He was my hero and most of all, my best friend.

I think from the moment my infant body first made its arrival into this world my mind was a jumbled mess of imagination. At the age of four, the farthest back my memory goes, I remember bringing my mother pages of drawings, desperate to tell a story that I was too young to write. My mother very patiently would fill in the words that I gave to her, sitting back and praising the talent I am sure only she could see growing. In fact I can’t recall one moment when my mother wasn’t telling me I was brilliant as she sat next to a messy pile of one of my many manuscripts. She saw something back then, and like most mothers she knew best to encourage it.

At six my parents brought the LDS missionaries to our home. Amidst the sticky summer nights and endless quart jars of captured fireflies came the sweet words of our Savior. Those two young boys brought a truth to our home that my parents had been yearning for for years, that my young mind felt completely familiar with, and finally everything that I already knew had a concrete truth behind it. I remember those years in our church, miles away from our small town. I remember Sundays where we were welcomed among others who believed. For a few hours we weren’t the only ones so unique, so “Strange.”

When I was ten my parents moved the family to “Tiny Town” Utah, closer to others who believed as we did. Different terrain, with its majestic mountains and sage brushed fields. Our farm wasn’t called a farm here, but a ranch, and my English suddenly seemed to be the most unique thing about me. “My Heck” and “Crick” seemed to creep into my vocabulary, and very soon I fit in with the local kids. I grew up there, in that small town, sage brushed field, snowy mountain bliss, and my mind continued to grow with fantastic imagination.

Books are sort of a sacred thing to me. My husband will tell you that I have a strange spiritual attachment to them. The feel of them in my hand, the pop of the spine when a book is opened for the very first time, the smell of an old book when its paper has stiffened and aged, is peaceful and perfect. I can spend hours looking through bookshops and every time I add a new book to one of the many shelves that line our living room wall I have to stand and just stare at its beauty. Nothing feels better than running my hands along the spines of rows of books and nothing looks better than all their dark colored covers blending together. The sound of pages being flipped through and the weight of their endless paper comforts me more than anything else can. Lost in those pages, time stands still, imagination has an outlet, and the troubled world is tucked quietly away.

I’ve had the opportunity over the years to meet other creative people like me. I’ve even been lucky enough to be taught under some of them. I’ve also been blessed to be married to a man who somehow manages to catch the half thoughts and strange descriptions that pop out of my mouth and most often can make sense of them.

I’m the person who walks into the store with everything written in her brain that needs to be done that day, while at the same time humming a tune, disciplining a toddler, and playing a story out in her brain. Sometimes, well...most times I probably appear lost and hidden in my many thoughts, but in reality I am putting everything that is happening around me into a fantastic story. I can’t stop it. It’s impossible to turn off and when I try my mind goes crazy. My husband always asks what’s going on in my brain and when I really tell him he smiles or quite often laughs, but he never ever discourages the process that is me.

And now as I sit here in front of my computer, I can’t help thinking of how my story could go, while at the same time the characters from my current novel are popping out, begging me to write their voice. Is it safe to say that I could go on forever? Yes. But like most good writers, I know when the story has lost its climax and its time to end. Back to the world of reality, back to my busy life and wild dreams. Back to the tangled stories, and always, back to the perfection of a quiet evening with a favorite book.

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