Friday, January 3, 2020

Storyteller's Journey

NASA Free Photo
What Stories Will 2020 Write?

While 2020 will be marked by the Mars 2020 Mission, which is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, other exciting events, such as the XXXII Olympiad in Tokyo are on this year's calendar. Then, too, there is the highly-anticipated United States Presidential Election in November.

However, what other stories will be written? What stories for children will each of us write? Do we believe our stories even matter?

Over the holidays I spent time reflecting on these questions. I thought about the books that mattered to me as a child. There were those with classic names everyone would recognize. However, there were many I loved, whose titles I can't recall. All those Scholastic Books my mother ordered for me nearly every month provided me with almost constant entertainment and encouragement. Their names? Other than one of my favorites - Pippi Longstocking - I can't recall most of them now.

Several years ago I read an article about the books President Kennedy had enjoyed as a child. (Click here if you'd like to read it too.) While many of the books are famous classics, one book stood out to me:

I'd never heard of this book, and so I looked up a synopsis of it:
At the Back of The North Wind was serialized in the children's magazine Good Works for the Young beginning in 1868 and was published in book form in 1871. It is a fantasy centered on a boy named Diamond and his adventures with the North Wind. (Diamond flies together with the mysterious Lady North Wind through the night on her many adventures to help mankind.)

When you couple the George MacDonald book together with another of Kennedy's favorites, J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan, a similarity comes to mind:
Both books feature a boy who is given the ability to fly away on an adventure.

I doubt that either MacDonald or Barrie ever dreamed that their books would be a favorite of a future U.S. President.

The reason I mention these books is that a book has a life of its own. While J. M. Barrie died in 1937, and George MacDonald in 1905, their books may well have inspired, at least unconsciously, President Kennedy to dream of sending the first men to the moon. While I've never learned of that possibility, it only makes sense, since the idea of flying to a faraway land was intriguing to President John F. Kennedy.

What impact might our books have - even long after we're gone? Even though our books might not inspire something as extraordinary as space travel, they might inspire a child to believe in her dreams.

So, as 2020 sets off on its journey through time, I'm reminded that my writing matters. My books matter. In my short career I've already had positive feedback to that effect by several readers. So, I write on.

Best of luck with your writing in 2020. It matters!

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