Once upon a time there was a princess her name was Amy. She had blond hair and colorful dresses. Princess Amy was determined to find her true love. One day she started singing “My true love I will find . Oh yes I will find him”. Then a handsome young boy heard her over the palace wall. He came in the garden gate. She soon saw him. She started to sing.”Now that I found you I will love you”. She came down the stairs and they met in the garden. My name is Amy she said. My name is Jeremy he said. Then she introduced him to her father. Soon they got married.
My daughter’s first attempt at authorship.
Despite the fact it’s filled with references to things no father in his right mind believes his eight-year-old daughter should be thinking about, it’s rather good. And I told her such. All the elements of a good story are there—characters, plot, scene, and the tension of whether or not Princess Amy will indeed find her true love. And of course there’s the happy ending.
We have spoken at length in those quiet hours before bedtime of her desire to be a storyteller one day. “Just like you, Daddy,” she says. I’ve at times wondered if that wish would correspond to anything I happened to be. If I were a garbage man or a dentist, would she spend her time picking up the household trash or staring at teeth?
I somehow doubt it. Indeed, she spends as much time with her nose in a book, whether one that’s written or one she’s intent to write, as I do. And though I have my misgivings about encouraging anyone regardless of age to take those first steps upon the road to publication, I do so with her. It gives her joy, and I’m all for allowing anyone to drink his or her fill of that.
Thus far it is the romance she seems most interested in pursuing. She’s tried her hand at poetry and managed to fill a few pages of “Roses are red, Violets are blue…” Not her thing, she said. She’s gone the non-fiction route and written two paragraphs on Easter Island and bunnies. Too boring, she announced. No, it’s the romance for her. That’s her thing.
Knowing my feelings regarding talk of love and marriage to anyone other than her father, she’s asked my blessing to continue her stories. I’ve given it—how could I not?—and whatever reservations I had were nicely disguised in layers of excitement. And to be honest, I am excited. Not that she may soon be penning stories in which she marries herself off to someone in her second grade class, but because of what those stories may eventually lead to.
In the end, that is the aim of all writing. We tell our stories so that we may come to some morsel of truth in the end, however uplifting or sad that truth may be. We write to give meaning to our lives and the circumstances within them. It is a holy act, a means by which we elevate ourselves above chance and fate.
Which is why I consider all writing to be of value, whether they are written for the ages or merely for the times. Every book, every letter, every blog post is a victory over the crushing weight of anonymity that presses down upon us.
Fantasy is just as relevant as literary fiction. The young adult novel is just as meaningful as a poem. Each medium and genre, however different, still contain within them the very same struggles and hardships. They speak of the human condition, of our shared fears and hopes, our triumphs and struggles.
I didn’t tell my daughter that; I’ll let her find that bit of treasure on her own. But I did tell her this, and now I’ll tell you:
Putting pen to paper is unlocking the door to a very dark room to which you intend to bring light. It matters not if that illumination comes from a lantern or a candle or a flashlight. All that matters is that, for even the briefest of moments, a bit of the darkness is chased away.