Storytelling.

I was thinking today about how I have always loved to read; fiction, fantasy, sci-fi. I’ve written books all my life, short stories, novels. I’ve successfully completed National Novel Writing Month three times. I am a gamer, I do live action roleplaying, and I have been involved in an improvisational theater group for fourteen years of my life. I have embraced stories throughout my life and loved every minute of it. My favorite authors engage me and make me want to hear more about their characters. My least favorite are unsympathetic and hard to care about.

All my life, I have clung to stories about heroes, about justice, and about exploring the darker places in someone’s life so that they can emerge triumphant on the other side. I have enjoyed the gray areas of moral dilemmas, the anti-hero, the surprising twist where we find out Snape’s story.

I ran across a quote today about fairy tales.

“Fairy tales don’t teach children that monsters exist. Children already know that monsters exist. Fairy tales teach children that monsters can be killed.”

-G.K. Chesteron

I wonder, looking back, if that’s why I love fantasy so much. I wonder if that’s why I feel such crushing defeat when a character (mine or other’s) has a terrible set back, and if that’s why I can soar for days on a triumphant ending.

We Children of the Secret have grown up knowing better than most that monsters do exist. We see them in our homes, our schools, our churches, and in the faces of strangers that we are taught to fear. To us, they are not vague and shadowy figures lurking in a darkened bedroom and keeping us awake with some childish, irrational fear. Our monsters scare us instead with the click of a doorknob, the promise of candy, and the back of their fist. We are writ small by our very real monsters, and suddenly we know there is evil in the world.

I grew up thinking that I was afraid of the dark. My mother was kind to me in my fear; whenever I was afraid I would pad down the hall in my She-ra slippers and climb into bed with her. Or, when I was very young, it wasn’t an issue, because we lived in a one room apartment the size of a shoebox and slept on the same pull out couch. Eventually, my fear grew as my distance from my mother grew, and my parents became less and less tolerant of my fear as my mother remarried and they wanted their privacy, their time alone.

I would do my rounds like some very short and ineffective night watchman before going to sleep. First, I would check under the bed, and then, I would check the shadow behind my desk, and then, finally, I would open the closet and be sure that nothing was hiding under the mountain of mess I had piled in there to pass the last room inspection. Then I would check again, lying on the floor and kicking things around under my bed to make certain that nothing awaited me behind the board games or the stuffed animals. Finally, I would go to bed.

Then my Monster came into my life, and something changed for me. I was still young, still afraid of the dark, but the shadows and dark places of my room no longer seemed forbidding. In fact, they seemed like havens to me. The dangers that I knew then came not from some hazy gorilla-like beast, but from a smiling gentle face who reassured me that he was doing it for my benefit. Sometimes I would consider sleeping under my bed, thinking maybe he would be deterred, but then I knew my mother would ask why, and I couldn’t bear to reveal my secret to her. Or worse yet, he would walk in and yank me out of my hiding place, and be angry at me. I never wanted him to be angry, because he was so horrible to me when he was happy, and I thought he would be far worse.

Perhaps I have clung to my reading and my writing and my roleplaying because in the end, I can comfort myself with a better ending. No matter who is killed, who is raped, who is violated or shamed… Most stories end with vindication and justice. The ones I gravitate towards are the ones that are self righteous against the darkness, and eventually emerge into the sun.

I like knowing the monsters can be killed.

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~ by oniongirl13 on March 30, 2009.

2 Responses to “Storytelling.”

  1. You are a beautiful and gifted writer. I love the Chesterton quote – thank you for teaching it to me.

  2. I too know about monsters. And I too love the stories of triumph. I need them. They soothe my soul.

    Thank you for sharing.

    Kate

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