Under the Brush Pile: Finding Myself in Bedtime Stories

Daniel, Melissa, and Matthew sneaked out their bedrooms in the middle of the night.  They crept down the stairs and past their Dad and Mom’s bedroom door.  For a second, they thought they heard a sound, but it was just Dad snoring like an old bear, so they kept going.  It was the kind of night for an adventure and the brothers and sister were determined to have one.

They hurried out the front door.  It was a dark night, but they knew where they were going.  They were going under the brush pile.  That was where the adventures were always sure to happen.

o~O~o

It seems like a good time for a memory lane post.  It’s the day before my birthday (coughpresentsarewelcomecough) and that got me to thinking about the “good old days” of course. You know, when life was simple and all I had to worry about was whether or not I could get the last of the good cereal before my big brother did.

I used to think that my storytelling streak was more or less an odd mutation in my family.  Each of my five siblings is rapidly finding his or her niche in life with various pursuits, whether it is as a special ops helicopter pilot, physics major, computer whiz, gymnast, or a goofball (it’s a skillset, I swear, and my littlest brother has taken to it in a way that makes me think he might be a prodigy).  I am the academic one, really.  I love learning.  For me, it is both the end and the means of my professional career.  To learn, to impart learning, and to continue to learn while imparting learning seem like pretty good goals to me.

Mom, Dad, and the prodigy goofball...

I am an avid reader and an aspiring writer.  Where did those loves come from?  I look at my parents and see two brilliant people (lawyer dad and homeschooling mom), but not writers.  They both read quite a bit with great enjoyment, but not the way that we insane Readers read.  They don’t eat and breathe (and think and sleep and live) books.  I started writing stories when I was very small without really thinking about the fact that there might have been inspiration behind my aspirations.

But then I began thinking more about my childhood.  I thought about bedtime and when my parents would finally corral me and my older and younger brother into our beds (a bit later than hoped for).  We were bouncy, boisterous, and utterly certain that bedtime was not for another few hours at the very least.

Most clearly in those memories of defying bedtime for as long as possible were the stories.  My dad would occasionally read to us, but what I remember most were the stories that he made up for us.  They all featured me and my older brother, and eventually Matthew (when he was finaly capable of walking, which seemed an important skill in order to contribute to a quality adventure).  They were also interactive.  Dad would send us under the brush pile (a place of great mystery where Dad threw the remains of the trees that he took such joy in chopping down around the yard on the weekends) and into a room filled with doors.

This was my first introduction to a “gallery of worlds” long before I became a part of Lantern Hollow Press, editor of Brian Melton’s Gallery of Worlds novel or the Gallery of Worlds e-zine.  This was my dad’s version and it was perfect for three small children and a very weary dad trying to inspire them (and tire them) for a while before they fell asleep.

A room full of doors meant choices. Dad always left that up to us.  He would narrate our progress down the hall and describe the various doors. And then he would hint that it was time to choose.  With great excitement and some trepidation, we would pick a door and start our adventure.

As I look back, I realize that every door would have had the same adventure.  Dad certainly didn’t plan out a different plotline for each of the doors!  However, it was a moment of excitement for me which I greatly appreciated, and I had not yet achieved the savvy plotting abilities or cynicism to detect his cunning illusion that we were actually changing what happened in the story.

The youngest siblings get ready for bed with a monkey, two bears, a cat, and a book... what else do you need to inspire a good adventure?

Dad drew from movies and books to create the worlds that we had our adventures in.  I remember sneaking into a castle that was guarded by evil raccoons (hey, it was an awesome bedtime story!).  The raccoons marched and chanted in a way that I later realized was the same as monkeys from Wizard of Oz.

So where did my creative inspiration come from?  I think it came from several forays under the brush pile and the worlds that my father created behind those doors.  My love of storytelling and world-creating is not quite so far from the family line after all.

I also suddenly have this desire to find out what actually is under that big, mysterious brush pile.  My search for Narnia continues…

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About Melissa

generally in love with things Celtic, mythological, fantastic, sharp and pointy, cute and fuzzy, intellectual, snarky, cheerful, or some combination thereof. Such things as sarcastic bunnies wielding claymores might come to mind...

Posted on June 7, 2011, in Inspiration, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Melissa Rogers, Story, World Creation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That brings back memories for me as well. Nicely done.

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