As a writer, one of the most important things I feel I could possibly pass on to my son is an appreciation of a good story. It’s one of my favorite things in life, after all. I devour films as often as I can. I am an avid reader of everything from classic literature to comic books. I often find myself enthralled in a well-written TV series or video game. I just enjoy a good story.
In an attempt to pass this on to our son, my wife and I have begun a nightly story-time ritual. Sure, he’s only three months old; we know he doesn’t understand what’s going on. At this point, the ritual is more for us than it is for him; we’re conditioning ourselves to do this every single night without fail. We’re laying a foundation. By the time he reaches the birth of his long-term memory, this ritual will have already been in practice for a number of years; he won’t remember a life without a story at bedtime.
For our first selection, we wanted to read something we would enjoy … since, as stated before, this is more for us than him at this point. So we both went back to our own respective childhoods and discovered a shared affection for a particular book series. It was only natural to start from there.
The Magician’s Nephew is the first book (well, story-wise) in the Chronicles of Narnia series. It is also, in our opinion, one of the best books in the series. (Though our opinions about the best Narnia book differ, my wife and I can both agree that this one is at least in the Top 2. My favorite will always be The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.)
This book features the creation of Narnia by Aslan, the first appearance of who would eventually be known as the White Witch, and, of course, the origin of that infamous wardrobe. Yes, it is both a prequel and an origin story, but this is an example of one done right.
We have been reading a chapter every night for the last five nights now. Diggory and Polly have just left the Wood between the Worlds and discovered the cold, dead world filled with red light, unnatural quiet, a hall of petrified people and a bell just waiting to be tolled. As the chapter closed, Diggory struck the bell. We both know what will happen tomorrow night. But that doesn’t mean we’re not looking forward to rediscovering it.
Talking about good stories has made me think about another book I read recently. This one doesn’t deal so much with fantasy or discovering new worlds. Instead, it’s about realizing one’s place in this one.
Donald Miller is an author I have come to admire. Mostly, because I see a lot of myself in him. He’s a bit older than I am and, as a result, quite a bit wiser, but we seem to have a lot of the same opinions. For instance, his stance on writing perfectly sums up how I feel about the subject. He said that most authors, himself included, do not truly love writing; instead, they love to have written. The writing part is a job, a chore. But … to have written, to hold that paragraph, that chapter, that short story, that novel in your hands—the feeling is indescribable.
This book woke me up. It made me truly realize that there is more to life than day-to-day living and mere survival. It can—and should—be more.
It’s one of my worst habits, survival. When things get stressful, I do what I have to do to make it through the day. But what’s going to happen when I look back on that? How will I feel about the time I spent worrying? What else could I have been doing with those minutes, those hours, those days?
I want my life to be about good stories. I want to write them and see them published and hear about how much people like them. But I also want to live a good story, and hear how people wish they could be living one … and be able to tell them how easy it is.
Write good stories. Live a good story. Leave a good story when I’m gone. That’s everything I want to do with my life. It always helps to have a goal.