13th March 2015
There is no greater well of inspiration for a writer than his or her childhood. Perhaps because in childhood we haven't had wonder knocked out of us. Perhaps because of the holographic effect of experience in childhood. As adults, we experience and put aside. But what we experience as children gets taken into our being so that it makes up the cells and particles of us.
Remember the long summer evenings of play, the complete absorption of grinding different coloured stones to make powder? The stew you made of mud and sticks, snail shells and mint; the perfume you made from crushed rose petals and water that turned brown and sour by the next day? Remember there was no time, then, just this eternal now stretching out in all directions? And it smelled of earth; it smelled of summer evenings, pineapple weed and mint.
I remember ....
The child that gazes at the butterfly is not separate from it. The Babycham plastic mascot was a real Bambi in my hands and glowed beneath the bed as I slept. The first visit to the cinema to see Mary Poppins changed everything. Every new experience was huge and encompassed everything. But the same went for the painful things of childhood. That little girl in my picture with the squinty school tie, spurned by the mother was taken up in the arms of the father. The cake her mother "forgot" to make on her birthday, was replaced by the fancy gateau the father produced from the bakery. In my writing, there is always a rescuing father figure. (In my fatherless life I'm always on the look-out for one, too.)
Writing is plummeting down to this raw level in which the child still sings. Once in a while we still receive a moment of epiphany that burns down into this level, like the blackbird singing in the dead of night. As adults we're good at shutting it down, sometimes because it seems like the only way to survive.
But your inner child is still within reach. She hasn't gone away. You can see it in her eyes when you look at the picture. Wonder, the Elan Vital of all that makes us human, is still there.