I love children's books. And, by children's books, I mean old-fashioned, beautifully printed tales that pass through generations. My book shelves are loaded up with stories of Wonderland, Narnia and the 100-acre Wood. Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl share a shelf of their very own and Peter Pan sits proudly between The Wind in the Willows and the tales of Hans Christian Anderson.
I am unashamed to be stuck in the literary world of my childhood and, in between the more grown-up reads, am often seen with my nose stuck in The Jungle Book or The Secret Garden.
Aside from my eternal immaturity, these books attract the writer in me like no other stories can. Reading through the older tales, I can hear the whispers of the many times I read them as a child and, now, it is not Nesbitt or Michael Bond, but, rather, me that I hear within the lines. For, certainly in my fiction writing, my writer's voice is a strange and unique cocktail of all of these childhood tales.
Image sourced from here.
I think that the things we read as children influence our view of the world even more than the things we do or the people that we meet. Certainly, I recognise many of my own thoughts and feelings about life and nature in some of the stories I used to read most as a child. And that is why it is so strange for me to sit down with an old book: it is as though I am revisiting a time before I was me, before I had the thoughts and opinions that I do, and watching my mind transform into the current version of myself, page by illustrated page.
We are told, as writers, to read as much and as often as we can. Read everything. Read the latest comedy and the most recent heartbreak; read the paper and follow it with the adverts pasted down the sides of the bus. Read variety and takes great leaps out of your comfort zone: that is how you become a good writer.
But, aside from all that, I do not think that it can do any of us any harm to revert back to what we know: to sidle back to the metaphorical armchair by the hearth and embrace the warm snuggle of a page creased with time.
It is in these pages, words stained with loving finger prints, that we come to understand ourselves as writers. And, with this understanding, comes the ability to appreciate just how far we have come and decide exactly where we would like to go next: be it far-off worlds or sat right here.
So I continue to fill my bookshelves with the old as well as the new and keep my writer's heart stuck firmly within my childhood.