Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The big rock candy mountain

It ain't been so sweet. But full of rocks, for sure.

When I was a kid, a little girl with a dirty shirt and the knees out of her jeans (or were the knees already out? These were passed down twice from two older brothers, and held together with a safety pin), I wanted nothing more than to burrow myself into a book.

A book with a cover already dusty from use, with the threads of the binding beginning to show through, with that musky smell paper used to take on (and how will we reproduce that smell on all those Kindle readers?). . . a book I wanted to literally dive into to escape the bleakness of my days.

Misty of Chincoteague, The Black Stallion, King of the Wind, all those splendid horses of the mind! And when I wasn't tearing along the beaches of Chincoteague hanging onto the Phantom's mane, there were the children's classics, so much more vivid and frightening than the Disney versions: Pinocchio's stern morality tale, and Bambi with its casual bloodshed and violence, as if to tell juvenile readers, "This, my children, is the way of the world."

It occurred to me, one magical morning, that Someone must have made these mysterious portals happen. Someone must have conjured them, or found them under a cabbage leaf or something. It took a while before I realized that someone must have actually written them, brought them into being.

And then, that was all I wanted to do - all I would ever want to do.

I wanted to make books happen.