August 13, 2010

I Want to Believe in Fairies

What I’m Reading Today: Last night, instead of reading, I was cogitating my writing.

We’re going camping this weekend. Yay! Should be fun. It got me thinking about being outdoors and about my childhood.

When I was a kid, I so wanted to believe in fairies and elves and gnomes. I had that great Gnomes book, with the fabulous illustrations, and I had a whole bunch of other books on the subject. I even had a “scholarly” book about fantastic creatures, including banshees and basilisks and dragons. It didn’t have nearly enough illustrations but gave great histories on the creatures. I also loved scifi and had Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials. My brothers and I one summer, in imitation, created our own creatures, and I still have the crayon drawings somewhere.

I spent a lot of time alone and a lot of time out walking. You have to understand ~ we lived out in the middle of nowhere. Five or ten miles between houses and twenty-five miles to the nearest town. Forty-five to sixty or ninety miles between towns. I’m talking nothing but sagebrush and deer or antelope. When I say I went out for walks, I mean I was in the hills with not another living soul besides the rabbits, coyotes, and lizards.

I so wanted to be able to see a fairy. I wanted to come across a gnome’s house at the base of a tree. I wanted fairies to flit in the apple orchard. I wanted dwarves to walk out of caves. I wanted to objectively observe them, like I did the chipmunks. I wanted them so to be real. People talk about childhood being this special time when you can believe in fairies, but objectively I couldn’t. I didn’t observe them with my eyes. I wanted to, but they weren’t real. I read books where children saw them, but I couldn’t see them.

My daughter is this same way. She wants to believe in fairies, and she tells stories about them. She’s still in that stage where she seems to believe that if she says it’s true, than it is. She’ll assert something (not trying to get out of something, just telling the way the world is), and it will be totally false. Saying it makes it true.

I wonder, now, if this (and other things) created a kind of a split in me. The world of make believe vs. the “real world.” I do know that books were my life. They were where fairies were real. They created worlds where fairies could live. And I know that I spent most of my childhood trying to live in that world instead of the “real” one.

Something to cogitate more deeply, I think.

Questions of the Day: Did you believe in fairies? Did you want to? What other childhood things contributed to you being a writer and/or a reader?


Brad Green said...

While I was reading this, I kept associating fairies with the concept of an agent that would be interested in my writing. Maybe it's just me. :)

But seriously, belief is the most important component of our world. It is our world. Belief does great wonder and tremendous harm, all at once.

Tamara said...


Yes! Belief. Faith. Interesting. I'm going to have to think about this more.

Pembroke said...

If fairies were real, I'm pretty sure you wouldn't want to see them. They're evil. Even though fairies aren't real, aliens are, so be careful while you're in the woods!

Tamara said...

Like cats! Predatory and they play with what they eat?! (Thanks!)