Since before I could read, I’ve loved the written word. My entire life, I’ve been a voracious reader, much like my dad. We share a similar interest in historical books, he’s particularly fond of anything to do with the Civil War. All four of dad’s brothers are also readers, and devout history-buffs of their own eras of interest. I even remember them talking about one brother who would read encyclopedias for fun. Remember those? Before Wikipedia?
Seeing the previews for the new Paddington Bear movie got me thinking about all the books I loved as a kid (truth be told, if I still had them, I’d probably still be reading them!). Then, and now, I loved a good series. Thank goodness for authors like Walter Farley (the Black Stallion series), Bonnie Bryant (The Saddle Club series), and C.W. Anderson (Billy and Blaze series). They captured my interest, and held it through every chapter of every book, leaving me desperate for the next. In part, I now can blame them, and my friend, Karah, for the sleepless weekend in search of the third book of the Twilight series, after Karah convinced me to read the first two that she’d lent to me.
It wasn’t just horse books that drew me in, I loved anything to do with animals, especially when they interacted like humans. Cue the Sweet Pickles books, and the Get-Along Gang. I wore out the vinyl’s in all my Disney “books on record.” The Fox and the Hound was a favorite, and possibly the beginning of my lifelong connection to Beagles?
I’ve often wondered, if the way I connected to those characters, and my stuffed animals, should have been an indicator as to who I would grow up to be. I still connect with the characters in the books I read, whatever happens to them, happens to me, whether they’re celebrating or suffering, I match them, emotional step for step. When I was younger and playing with my stuffed animals, I always imagined they had feelings, just like me. They felt bad if I played with others, instead of them. I worried for their safety when they took a bath (in mom’s washing machine). We all understood each other though, and slept peacefully together every night, before waking to a new day’s adventures.
As I work on my (first ever) manuscript, though I’m telling it from an adult’s point of view, I do it in the hope that people of all ages will read it, and understand how I felt, or what I experienced, in the same way I did.
What’s funny is, a therapist I went to a while ago, had commented a few times on my being deeply empathetic. When I would share things going on in my life, or the lives of those around me, and how I sometimes instinctively knew what would happen, before it happened, that was the explanation he offered. I, apparently, am an individual who is emotionally connected to everything and everyone around me, which can almost give me a sense of being “sighted.” I credit all those fuzzy little animals, with their unseeing glass eyes. The Paddington’s, the Black Beauty’s, the variety of talking animals in every Disney movie, they’ve all helped shape me.
It makes me sad to see people who don’t read, or don’t encourage their kids to. My boyfriend isn’t a reader, but his son will tear up anything about baseball, or military life. He loves books about players and people in history. When he took drum lessons, his first instructor did a great job of introducing him to classics, which got him reading about old Jazz and Blues musicians. He regularly checks out books from the library on old baseball players, and can recite facts about them as though he knew them personally. As he’s developed his interest in the military, he’s graduated on to books about the different wars America has been involved in, he’s reading “American Sniper” now, and told me all about Chris Kyle over lunch one day. I couldn’t be more proud of that. Here is a 13 year old, who will be able to carry on intelligent conversations when he enters his adult life. I told a mom at work the other day, I’ll put anything short of porn in front of him, if he’ll read it! It’s such a good hobby to have!
So this week’s entry is a bit more of a ramble, but I do it to remind us all, that it’s okay to look behind you, as long as you keep moving forward. All those animals and characters I loved once, gifted me with the love of reading and writing, which I’m able to share with you now. Hopefully sooner rather than later, I’ll be able to share with an even larger audience. The Black Stallion, My Little Ponies, and National Velvet’s The Pi, all showed me the importance of sharing your story, and their success proves that we horsey folk make up a pretty large audience, all of whom can appreciate a “pony tale.”