Today I welcome guest blogger Katie DePoppe. Hope you enjoy this delightful sharing of the ache known to all true writers and readers. And I think, especially, to romance readers and writers. ---Elva Cobb Martin
by Katie DePoppe
Literature is as old as speech. It grew out of human need for it, and it has not changed except to become more needed. - John Steinbeck
Last week, as I laid in bed with my 4-year-old son, he asked me to tell him a story from when I was a little girl. We’ve discussed that I used to ask my mom the same thing, so while he nearly always chooses a book over the old-fashioned oral story-telling tradition, I jump at the chance when he requests stories from my childhood.
We talk a lot about using our imagination and being creative at home, and he’s great at coming up with his own stories, but when he asks for ideas, I have to admit that I re-live my childhood vicariously in 5-minute heart-swelling increments. I’m not ashamed.
So, on that random evening last week, I was more than willing to share my “stories” with him. Most were just snippets of great memories. One of those: explaining to him how I would wait all week for my mom to take me to the Home Video each Saturday to rent one of Shelley Duvall’s Fairy Tale Theater classics. My favorite? The Seven Dancing Princesses, an old classic complete with mystery, an invisibility cloak, and a secret passage way.
I watched as my little boy’s eyes widened as I told the story.
“I am so excited,” he said, and then his little face fell for a moment. “I just want to be in the story so bad, Momma.”
I told him I understood. I know that ache. More than he knows.
Over the years, there have been those stories – you know the ones – that affect you. The ones that linger long after you’ve read the last line, a shadowy friend who follows you as you go back to everyday life; the ones that seem to wrap their hands around your shoulders and pull you through the pages and hold you there for a while.
As a child, there was a storybook I spent hours poring through because the illustrations were so beautiful; I decided I wanted to live there and spent hours of my early years trying to draw pictures like those. I still remember, with great nostalgia, my eighth grade self, tucked into bed in the wee hours of the morning, brought to tears for the first time by a novel. And I could write all day about the works that I’ve read as an adult that have shaped my heart in some good way or opened my eyes to a new way of thinking.
What’s the point of this, you ask?
This post isn’t meant to teach or tell you something you don’t already know. Rather, I thought it might be nice to have a reminder interspersed amongst all the well-thought strategies and professional advice – a reminder of why we do what we do.
I hope I write something that will one day put that ache in someone’s heart, that ache I know all too well and which my son felt for the first time at 4. How easy it is to forget that literature has the power to change the world.
For more information on the power of literature and a recent study on the power of fiction, visit http://teachthemdiligently.net/blog/2013/10/power-fiction/
Katie DePoppe is a co-founder and the editor at large for AZALEA, a magazine that celebrates the lifestyle, history, and culture of the South Carolina Lowcountry. She spends her days working in the library basement of a local university and her late nights tinkering with words she hopes will eventually appear on her personal blog, The Southern Apothecary (currently under re -construction), or in the pages of a Southern gothic short story collection. She lives with her husband and son, five dogs, twenty chickens, four peacocks, and a plethora of strays on her grandfather’s land near Charleston. She is a member of Word Weavers International, ACFW-SC Chapter, and is a life-long member of Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society. Connect with Katie on Twitter @KDePoppe.