Childhood, Imagination and Writing

Virginia Lowe, of Create a Kids' Book, recently asked for thoughts on how real imagination is in childhood, which brought up some interesting musing.

I had proof for believing in fairies when six, as I sometimes found tiny, fairy letters covered in microscopic script (which only my father could read); I also had dreams of Fairyland, which I felt were much too real to be normal dreams. My sister once dreamed of Fairyland the same night I did, but in big sister fashion,I decided that hers was just a dream, or that she wasn't describing it properly, because it wasn't the same as mine.

I kept the ability to totally believe in my imaginary games for many years - I must have been nine when I cut a window in a tent - this was about the time I was writing the story that years later, evolved into Nim's Island. I can still feel the horror of coming out of the game, finding myself in the basement, not a forest - and seeing the hole I'd cut in a new blanket.

I was interested in a quote from Pamela Travers (author of Mary Poppins) on accessing the child that one was when writing, which is certainly what I do. It's only recently struck me that not everyone writes that way.

However I'm guessing that what most of us do, when we're really into a story, is to get into a split reality, of being very clear about the true reality around us, and knowing that we're deliberately creating this story, and yet reaching a level of almost believing the life of the story as an independent entity which we're exploring (at that point I occasionally dream my characters' dreams, which is creepy but useful.)

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