Monday, October 24, 2011

Following the Yellow Brick Road

Continuing the theme of what influenced our writing from childhood, I’d like to make a confession: I am, and always have been, a 100% certified head-in-the-clouds Dreamer. Just ask my Dad. But how did I get this way? Are some people born with the propensity to believe idealistic notions? Or did we find our rose-colored glasses somewhere on that proverbial yellow brick road of life? I would propose the stories we subscribe to as a child, greatly influence who we become and what we write.  

Like many of you, my childhood was less than ideal. So, stories that swept me away to a different time and place became somewhat of an obsession. First, it was the Disney Fairytales
My Royal Hottie
Every one of those princesses overcame evil step-parents, wicked queens and manipulative sea monsters with courage and aplomb to find their Happily Ever After and win the heart of their chosen royal hottie—with not so much as a hair out of place!

I didn't think that was too much to ask from life.

It’s no surprise that from the time I could dress myself, I was running around in princess dresses and tiaras. Some may have seen this and thought, “What a cute little thing,” but in my mind, I was fighting dragons.
When I was a little older, my attention turned to stories of escapism: THE WIZARD OF OZ, WILLY WONKA AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, and THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDROBE. I devoured the films, and locked myself in my room to comb through the books searching for clues to how I might find these enchanted lands.

But all those hours of research, of wishing and praying to fly over the rainbow, left me feeling defeated and alone. Every one of those characters ended up right back where they started, anyway. My rose-colored glasses began to grow dim.

That’s when I began to create my own stories…for my Barbie dolls. They were epic tales that would take days, and multiple set and wardrobe changes, to act out. The Barbie townhouse became everything from a witch’s lair to a secret spy headquarters. My room, draped with colorful fabrics and Barbie shoes, transformed into whatever world I could dream up.

I kept reading, of course. Filling my ravenous hunger for stories with S.E. Hinton, Judy Blume, and any novel I could smuggle off my mom’s bookshelf. Eventually the princess dresses and Barbie dolls were packed away, but I never stopped believing in my heart that who I could become was only limited by my imagination.

So, did I find a utopian land or grow up to be a warrior princess?

No, my darlings, but I do write about them.  J

Now it’s your turn! What stories did you subscribe to as a child that shape who you’ve become and what you write?



CareyCorp said...

Great post Lorie! We need dreamers in this world.

Tonya Kappes said...

Aren't we all dreamers? One thing I LOVE about my husband, he never tells me to grow up;)

Melissa Landers said...

Great post, Lorie! I love that you're a dreamer, and I can totally picture you as that kick-ass Snow White!

Lorie Langdon said...

@ Carey- Thx! The only problem with being a dreamer is that when reality smacks us upside the head we have a looonngg way to fall. ;-)

@Tonya- I do think as writers of fiction we are all dreamers in our own way. Your hubby rocks!

@Melissa- Thanks, Mel! Kick-ass Snow White is so going to be my next Halloween costume!

TinaFerraro said...

I loved my Barbie dolls, and played with them long past social acceptability because I was so involved in their teen drama! =) When putting together a new story idea these days, it often still feels like playing Barbies, just letting my subconscious run free and entertain me!

Unknown said...

Love this post, Lorie. In our fantasy worlds, our writing, we get to be all the things we dreamed of being and do the things we thought impossible.

Lorie Langdon said...

Tina – Yes, I too played with my Barbie’s a little longer than most kids. Funny but I always got the ‘International Barbie’s’ because so many of them were brunettes. ;-)

Lorie Langdon said...

Christina - So true! I think it makes us happier people, don't you? :o)

Jen said...

The Sailor Moon series and fanfiction community has totally shaped who I am today. I was just thinking today about that actually... it's made me unwilling to settle for anything less than doing what I love with who I love!

Fanfiction also made me more serious about becoming a writer someday... still reaching for it!

Lorie Langdon said...

Jen - I've never read The Sailor Moon series. I'll have to check that out! Thanks for sharing. :o)

Becke Davis said...

Sooo many books I read as a child (and as a teenager) impacted the way I view the world. Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME, Antoine de Ste.-Exupery's THE LITTLE PRINCE, the DeMaupassant short story, "A Piece of String," and everything by O. Henry.

And mysteries, of course. Not only did Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie inspire a lifelong love of the mystery genre, but I see mysteries everywhere!

Lorie Langdon said...

Becke - I *love* that you see mysteries everywhere! That's how you know you're a born story teller.
I loved Nancy Drew too! THE HIDDEN STAIRCASE was my all-time favorite. :)

Gabriella Edwards said...

Hands down, Disney's versions of the classic fairy tales were a big influence on me growing up...still are in a lot of ways.
You certainly win points for featuring a pic of my favorite prince here, Lori! The scene where Briar Rose first meets her dreamy Philip, and they sing, "I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream..." still resonates in my hopeless romantic mind. *sigh*

Kimberly said...

I, too, was (and still am) a dreamer. The dreams have changed through the years, but the act of dreaming itself is what's important and makes us who we are.
I loved my barbies and had them performing all sorts of scenes. My favorites were pretending to be in The Land of the Giants and I was the giant. My barbies were forever hiding behind sofas and end tables, trying to hide from the Giants (my family) while I was in cohoots with them. And don't get me started on Darby O'Gill and the Little People. I have meself a leprachaun tattoo, and I blame it all on my early stages of dreaming. :-)
I think that anyone who writes fiction must have an active imagination. They must have had their heads in the clouds at some point in their lives. They must have stared at people in malls and wondered endlessly about their lives and why they act as they do. As a matter of fact.... I still do. :-)
Loved your post.
Here's to the dreamer in all of us!!!

Mary E. Ulrich said...

"A dream is a wish your heart makes..." oh, I also loved all the fairy tales, classic myths, and always always want a happy ever after.

I love Melissa's "kick-ass Snow White." A heroine like that would probably revise the whole Disney empire and send their stock flying. Maybe that could be your next story Lorie?

Lorie Langdon said...

Gabriella – I think I need to go watch Sleeping Beauty now too! Briar Rose was not one of my favorite princesses – a little too passive for my tastes, but Prince Philip was a different story—rebelling against his father, the king, to marry his true love, charging horseback with sword drawn to slay the dragon. He was definitely my first swoon-worthy hero!

Lorie Langdon said...

Kim – LOL! The land of the Giants cracks me up! I always cringe when I hear people criticize Barbie dolls because they are disproportionate or whatever. The same could be said for women on TV, movies and even my beloved Disney fairytales. I think the ‘experts’ underestimate kids and how they view the world.
Here, here to all of us dreamers who’s Barbie’s were doctors, FBI agents and superhero’s, despite their feet being too small to hold up their body! ;D

Lorie Langdon said...

Mary – I would *love* to write kick-ass Snow White’s story…Hmmm…I’ll have to give that some thought. Thanks Mary!

PJ Sharon said...

Wonderful post! I think I was influenced more by TV than books as a kid. I loved to imagine myself as magical such as in I dream of Jeannie or Bewitched. I loved fantastical storues like Gulliver's Travels and the Wizard of Oz. My reading life was consumed with Nancy Drew Mysteries that had me sure that I would someday be a detective. In a way, I guess I am. In some form, being a writer is like being a detective--fleshing out a story, searching for motive, and plotting out how we get to the end.

Lorie Langdon said...

PJ – I think you’re right about us being detectives, of a sort. TV had a powerful influence on me as well. Wonder Woman is still one of my heroes!

Anonymous said...

I never grew out of daydreaming. I think I spent most of my childhood running around thinking I was a power ranger or pokemon trainer. I watched The Pagemaster religiously wishing my library could transport me into a world where books came alive. But then I was introduced to Buffy and my new ambition was to become a vampire slayer. ^^ I just wanted to be these people and have adventures.

And now I use this imagination of mine to create characters who are in similar adventures. It's even better. :)