Holiday Reflection: What Lasts?
Happy December, friends! I’m taking off for a couple of weeks, and was trying to think of a worthwhile post to mark the end of this very difficult, very strange, and sometimes wonderful year.
And then my teenager asked me about my writing. Actually, he asked me why I write the books I do.
I get asked all the time at school visits what inspired me to write books, and my answers range from “fairy tales” to “I like to imagine scary stuff” to “I like to make children cry or laugh or scream.”
And that’s all true.
But I realized there was a pivotal moment a few years back that started my writing engine up after years of idling. My stepfather Chas, who I loved dearly, passed away from cancer. When it was time to clean out his office at the University of Texas, I went with my sister and mom, and we worked for hours. And what I remember was that, aside from three things, everything was either given away or thrown away.
The three things we kept were:
1. The artwork he had made. Wooden sculptures he’d carved, metalwork and leather work he’d done, that somehow had made their way to his office.
2. The books he had written. These were all highly technical, as he was one of the smartest men in the world. (I believe he had an Erdös number of 2. ) Still, we kept them because he had made them. They were receptacles for his spark, and contained a part of him outside of our memories that was lasting, that remained.
3. A Starbucks gift card.
The gift card was converted to caffeine in days. But the books and the art? We still have.
I had a head full of stories at the time, and hadn’t begun to tell them. That day in Chas’ office, I realized my mark on the world had yet to be made. And I wanted to make one. To be exact, I wanted to write something that would last, that would change hearts, soften the hard world somehow, that would help kids like I was see a kindred spirit/story. It was and is my Big Dream, even though it’s a hard one to bring into reality. But it’s worth fighting for, worth the struggle. every day.
I promise you this: When you meet the person who needs your Big Dream to see the light of kindness, or hope, or joy? To keep from giving up, from losing faith? You will thank every star in the sky that you persevered.
This holiday season, I wish you your Big Dream come true. Make art. Make literature. Make something that matters. Change the world. We are the magic makers, friends. We are the dreamers of dreams.