by Arthur Aaron
Journey down memory lane to hold onto what makes me who I am.
Disclaimer: I do consider this to be done, but I might always come and add things in or change the wording of things to dress it up a bit more, but for now I just wanted... needed to get all this out.
Stories have always been my haven from a rather lonely childhood, teenhood and adulthood. Having to move from my hometown, left me alone in a new place with a school and town full of strangers. I found I was not brave at meeting new people, whereas my brother was. He and my sister quickly made friends while I stayed alone, shying away from conversation as everyone seemed so different than me. I still was nice and talked to them whenever I was approached (I still am this way). I had read some books as a kid but growing up poor, we didn’t have many books, so when my class took our first trip to the library, my little 1st grader mind was overwhelmed with excitement and wonder as I saw the rows upon rows of neatly organized shelves filled with all manner of books. I let the class reading guide my first dips in the ocean of tales, but as I grew older, and my parents got better jobs, my mom started to take me to bookstores to obtain my own books and this is how I met dragons and the fantasy genre as a whole. I had read several books before this time but all were set in our world, and while they were good, I always felt something was missing thought I never could pin down, until then, what it was.
While I enjoyed the stories BF (before fantasy), I was always…bored with our world as I had no stakes in it. I always enjoyed nature, as my grandmother, who I had been living with before, had a grandly flourishing garden with flowers of all sorts. I used to watch the bees every spring feast on the nectar of the flowers, giving them names and individual stories as I imagined their journeys. Ants, ladybugs, and beetles were also a part of these imaginings. Even the leaves spoke to me, changing and morphing into beings comprised of leaf and twigs. They were often the main characters of my imaginings, with them riding the cardinals and robins that used to bathe in two stone birdbaths my grandma had along the cement walkway leading from the front porch. They’d ride their birds against the beetles (they used to scare me) and ants (they were my nemesis as a child since I loved to play in the mud and grass) who themselves in my imagining wore armor of bark bits and loosed arrows from their long bows (they got the strings from spiders, naturally). And it was this sort of…element I found lacking in the stories before and I found plenty of it in the fantasy genre.
Aside the fantastical elements, what I also found in fantasy, as sad as it might sound, were friends. Or at least people who I felt comfortable around. Main characters or side characters who I could relate to and find myself in, and even find some joy in their sense of humor. I found heroes who stood for things I agreed and believed in. heroes and people who cared about the things no one else really seemed to. To be fair, we were kids, but being an outsider always gives you a different view of things. And I’ve found that to be unchanged as I’ve gotten older. Only now, the gap between people and myself has grown severely. Any friends I’ve gained, I’ve lost through many number of ways that all left me alone again wondering what I could have done wrong for them to just walk away without any explanation. There were those who turned to drugs and other worse activities they wanted me to get into as well, but I refused and they chose drugs and their fake friends over me. Not really the best thing for someone who never could trust someone to really care for them to go through several times but, such is the way of things.
The point being, it’s only gotten more difficult to bond and find ground with the common crowd or any crowd for that matter, but friendship is only one reason why I read and in turn why I write. My characters are like my children to me, they also feel like…a combination of things really. Friends. Caretakers as they are there for me when I…I go through a lot like this whole year so far. Most of them have been through a lot and in the magical way they’ve come alive in my mind, it feels like I have people who understand and know me better than anyone so through them I often find advice and hope to keep moving.
Despite finding a place in fantasy, I quickly started having these ideas, visions and dreams of adventures of things that were my own, and it was the best feeling in the world. I was so excited, I wanted to get them all out, I wanted to tell people, I didn’t want them to disappear like everything else. I was only 10 or 11 around this time and there wasn’t really much laying around for me to keep track of everything so I tried to keep them in my mind. It got to the point where I decided, after reading ‘Temple of the Dragonslayer’ by Tim Waggoner, to just write my own tale where all these things could go into. What halted me from doing so for about a year though was the fact that I at the time thought only adults were allowed to write books. I can’t remember why exactly I thought this, I think maybe because only adults did and around that age I constantly was being told all the things I wasn’t allowed to do because I wasn’t an adult. Pretty silly looking back, but hey, I was a kid. ‘Eragon’ by Christopher Paolini changed this though with me learning he was 15 when he wrote the book which I personally love for many reasons. Once I found kids could write stories…It was like letting the chains off a hound as I immediately got to work on my book. It was a short 10 chapter novel I finished in six months. Don’t know if that’s something to brag about, and I don’t mean to in any way. It by no means was a masterpiece, I can tell you that right now. Looking back at it and reading it makes me laugh at myself plenty, but what it does show me is how far I’ve come as a storyteller and how creative I’ve always been.
Finally to summarize all this, the second reason I write is to have someone or something be here for me when I don’t have anything else, and the third reason in a nutshell is to have an outlet for my creativity and imagination that always has and is filling up my mind.
The fourth reason is a rather common one among us storytellers. I write as an escape. It’s sort of like my second reason, but at the same time it’s not. Having characters is one thing, having an entire living world is another. I initially sought out to create a living world of my own to place my characters and write their stories, but shortly after I finished my first book, I went through something and kept on going through things that escalated in terms of how bad they were. Depression overtook me and many other things in this time, most of which is still with me to this day. There were several moments and times where I had my own death all planned out, from how I was going to die and when I would. I must also add all this took me away from my writing. I didn’t write any stories for…*counts fingers* five years, no, four years, but for fantasy it was five. I did learn to write poetry in this time through school, which I found to be another outlet, only for pain rather than adventure. I found my way back to fantasy by seeing a kid have a green book with the portrait of a green dragon much like a book I read what felt like so long ago. I had completely forgotten about them among everything else. I asked them if that was the sequel to ‘Eragon’, which they replied with “No, this is the last one, Eldest and Brisingr are before this one. They’re available in the library if you want to check them out.” And to the library I went.
Reading them brought me back from the edge at the time. They brought back that little boy who wanted to tell stories and go on adventures and find extraordinary out of the ordinary of our world. They brought me back out of the cold, lone abyss of an ocean of misery. All my thoughts of suicide were burned off like soul sucking leeches and filled me with that old fire. My mind felt like it had been broken free of an icy prison, and not long after it proved to never have given up truly despite feeling gone. The visions, dreams and voices of so many flooded my mind all at once, forming eventually over many months after what is now my first world filled with so many stories, so many characters, so many creatures I dreamed of having since I was 11. The feeling of the experience is something I don’t think I could ever put into words, as I don’t think there is a word for it.
At this point in my life, writing became a need as it was the only cure to my every day struggles with thoughts and desires to put an end to myself. I now had heroes, allies, friends to fight my darkness, my demon. In the sunless hours, under the shadow’s reign was the twilight of horrors. Long was I afraid of every night, unable to sleep and being alone in a house of strangers that is my family. But with my characters, my world, my stories, I no longer stood alone, I no longer was alone. Like a wall, they protected me, strengthened me, and fought with me. Nights went from being a hell to a battle, a battle I could finally win, and one day, hopefully I can find peace.