Know Jack #348 Fairy Tales Are Not For the Faint of Heart
“Someday you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”
Writers must have a sense of child-like wonder. You may be writing of war, horror, and grisly death, but you get there by allowing your sense of wonder to open the door—even if there is a monster on the other side—or perhaps because there is one. Readers will not suspend disbelief and enter the story unless you lead the way.
Jesus wasn’t a writer, but he was a storyteller. He used to say to his hearers, “He that has ears to hear, let him hear”. He knew everyone was not buying into what he had to say, but he was also aware that there were those who were hungry to hear, willing to listen and enter his kingdom as little children.
Picasso spoke about how difficult it was to learn to paint with the abandonment of a child. The heroes of Stephen King’s It, won by suspending the disbelief of adulthood. Hemingway’s “Write drunk, edit sober” is a bit coarser way to endorse the same idea of leaving behind our inhibitions and plunging into a story.
Ironically, there’s a certain maturity required in allowing yourself the luxury of child-like wonder and imagination. You must be secure enough to leave behind the comforts of everyday life. We like to complain about jobs, commitments, and the annoying people on Facebook, but there is a familiar safety there of which it is difficult to let go.
I hear people say they are done with drama. I fear they will not be reading fairy tales anytime soon. Our modern world seeks to homogenize everything and everyone. My college algebra teacher used to say the key to success was to set up the formula correctly. Once you have the problem in the proper form, he would say, “Just do the math”.
The ”math” of enjoying fairy tales is easy once you put life in the proper form—or, perhaps the better word is perspective. Wonder, imagination, and dreaming of what if are the true treasures of living.