In my case, a series of events led down a path that brought back a childhood memory long since forgotten. A memory of something I cherished deeply during those wonderfully naive years of dreaming about the impossible. What am I babbling about? Let's find out. While this might not make sense to anyone other than myself and might seem childish, what I'm talking about was and is still is something important in my life regardless of what others see it as.
Moving back a month or two in time, somewhere across the globe, a butterfly flapped its wings. Shortly thereafter, a friend of mine feels the urge to gently prod me, er, ask me if I've taken active steps towards writing books for young adults. “There's a sizable market you could tap into for extra income,” she says. I'm paraphrasing, but it hits the mark close enough. Besides, I doubt my friend would worry if I misquote a word or two. Not to mention my memory is like that of a fish – anything past nine seconds and I seem to forget anything in the short term. But I digress. Slow to move, I'm like molasses, but I'm a juggernaut too. Once in motion, I churn along with a seemingly endless supply of energy as I move tirelessly towards my goal. My purchase of the book on authoring children's story is part of the slow but steady movement forward. Again I digress by presenting background material. I'll meander back on topic to keep from losing everyone.
Fast forwarding from the past to this afternoon, I'm roaming about in a used bookstore, I whittled away the Saturday afternoon in a useful manner. Seeking materials to help improve my writing style, I browsed through the shelves lined with books. Some how-to books, others fiction and fantasy oriented. While rooting bout in the how-to section, I stumbled across a tome dealing with writing stories for younger readers. My memory managed to function and I could hear my friend, “Hey, that book there... yeah that one! Pick it up.” Okay, I'm an agreeable fella so I pick up the book entitled, “How to Write a Children's Book and Get It Published”. I thumb through the pages. The style is agreeable as is the prose. Nothing stuffy or stilted. It's quite approachable and seems to have a series of good suggestions so I add it to my other how-to books. After a bit more browsing through the science fiction and fantasy books, I pay for my booty and set sail for home.
Upon arriving home, I grab a bite to eat then sit down to take a look at my books. I'm perusing through a chapter entitled “Turtles All the Way Down” when the author of this particular essay begins to speak about alliterations such as “One ring to rule them all”. Vague memories of childhood books began to surface. I recall reading “The Hobbit” and even far stranger works such as the likes of H.P. Lovecraft. I set aside my memories and return to reading. The author drifts along making interesting points about the voice employed by an author when they are painting their character to the reader. The subject of C.S. Lewis arises with how a child is placed into a role of an adult through such a voice. Down goes the book. Something interesting is rumbling in the mind but it hasn't surfaced. While I'm pondering the concept of how younger readers can be pulled into the excitement of reading a story, a tidal wave of thoughts about my youth take control. Stories I'd read come flooding back. I start to recall how wondrous those stories were. Then it hit me. One of those nagging thoughts where you have something you're trying to recall but it's just out of grasp. I recall a book, one that I read numerous times when I was in the dreamer stage some young boys go through. It was through this particular book that I imagined vicariously, the thrills of pulling off clever pranks filled with mystery. The title, what was the title of that book? Something about a scientific boys club. A bit of searching turned up an anime reference but that wasn't it. More browsing and searching. Then, with a bit of detective work, I hit pay dirt and found my author, Bertrand R. Brinley along with the title of his cleverly written “The Mad Scientists' Club”. I pulled up an Amazon page selling the book, and sure enough, there was the cover I had burned into my memory as a child. That oh see delicious set of stories filled with excitement of youthful endeavors.
Now one might say, “Yeah, so? It's a kids book. What's so important about that?” Well now, for me, this seemingly trivial book wasn't so trivial. As a child, I found myself reading and rereading this book numerous times. It was the hook that got me, the bait that pulled me into the world of reading. And from there, greater things were able to transpire.
Allow me be more specific, when an author such Bertrand Brinley writes a series of stories that wrestles a kid's attention away from watching TV, would you not consider that a feat well worth praise? From that seemingly trivial book, I found myself reading stories from well known authors, some of the stories being deep in nature such as “Animal Farm”. Yep, I found a whole series of classic books on my oldest brother's bookshelf including numerous other wonders such as “I, Robot” and “Lord of the Flies”. Some books were too deep for me to understand at the time, at least their symbolism, yet the exposure was good in my opinion. And through all the reading, I was able to survive against my own laziness in school. Not motivated (interested) in typical school studies, I was able to retain some level of intelligent edge through reading. But when it's all said and done, books such as the one I mentioned are the ones that draw in a child with such intensity that it has a profound impact upon their life. Influence, it comes from unexpected places at times.