This picture sits on the bookcase beside me when I write. It's by artist Helena Mackevych (https://nicethingsbyhelena.com/ and I love the way the children are huddled together, gazing at the light. It inspires me because that's what I hope my books will do - provide some light for readers, especially if things are a little bit difficult and dark around them. The reason why I write is so that someone, somewhere, might read it and feel better, safer, more hopeful, less alone.
When you think about it, reading is astonishing. A writer has some pictures in their mind. They make some marks on a piece of paper or a computer screen. A reader looks at those marks and their brain does amazing and wonderful things involving eyes, nerves and all sorts of complicated stuff. And then - here's the magical bit - they see pictures in their mind, too. They won't be exactly the same as the ones the writer had, but they will conjure a world for the reader to visit and explore.
I've just finished reading this book, by Daphne du Maurier. It's about a man on holiday on Cornwall who travels back in time...or does he? Is it really all in his mind?
Even opening the book is like travelling back in time. It was published fifty years ago, and the pages smell like the past. As I read it, some white sand fell out from between the pages, which means the last time I opened it I must have been on a beach somewhere. But it's amazing to think that this writer dreamed up some words all those decades ago that gave me pleasure this week, in 2021, and made me feel as though I too was on holiday in Cornwall, even though in real life I can't go further than my town because of lockdown.
Here's a story that's even older:
The first stories about Jesus were written down around two thousand years ago. Two thousand!! And yet those words have been passed down through the years, translated into many languages, and are still being read by people today. If you want to hear me reading it to you, click on this link:
You might be at home on a rainy day in the 21st Century, but sit back, relax and picture yourself walking in that garden just as it's beginning to get light. Share Mary's astonishment as events unfold. Perhaps, like her, it will make you feel better, safer, more hopeful, less alone.