Kindling the Word
The glossy trails of knowledge from the non-fiction section, meticulously illustrated with black and white photographs of places and people and the colour plates of fantastical creatures escaping from another era and the jaws of Tyrannosaurus Rex. All these were a comfort now past.
Instead the tall shelves of the adult library beckoned. A universe of bound galaxies, warm and glowing in their cosmic dust jackets, filled with stars of ideas and nebulae of dreams, pricked with words to mould the gravity of minds, pulling at ethics and morals, teasing me with the innuendo of what happens next. Stories that were no longer safe, facts that shock or mislead: shelves of heinous crimes, distorted minds, uncontrolled passion and the fantasies of all humanity. The passing left a choice, a finding that not all endings are happy, and not all truths reliable. Instead the search for new wonders from the minds of Asimov whose robots displayed ethics to be proud of; Heinlein, whose time twists challenged my reality; and Sturgeon who questioned the fabric of my universe as I knew it. But this universe of books was so big without the maps and guides of Amazon and the internet, how was I to know which endings were 1984 or Brave New World and which Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice. Who could fathom the mind of Sherlock Holmes or the hunger for more that Conan Doyle generated in me. What was the meaning of a story that appeared as a children’s bedtime story, but ended as a satire in Animal Farm? How to recreate that first spasm of hilarity with Three Men in their Boat? Haunted by books of childhood past, lured by stories of adult present, dreaming of realities in future words.
The memories are real; each book had its own special identity, the musky scent of adventure, the clean aroma of distant lands, and the glossy smell of wisdom and knowledge. The blend of something that can be touched and turned combined with the heady drug of imagination. Here were places to be someone else, to recreate a life, to laugh, to cry, to lose all sense of place and time.
The passion to read became the passion to write and to start the cycle afresh, my imagination to yours, my words to your mind, my world to yours.
The fire had gone out in grate, but it still burned in the words of the pages of the books on the shelves that lined my study. And it still burns in me.
Copyright © 2013 Sam Denniss