Friday, September 23, 2011

My secret reader

Stockholm stadsbibliotek
From time to time I’m asked why I write.

It’s not because I want to create something that will last, or to see my name on the well-cracked spine of a book in a library, though these, too, are excellent reasons. It’s not because I have no choice. I can while away hours and days, lose myself in the everyday little: sparrow gazing, daycare runs, transactions and translations. It’s certainly not because I find it easy, or because I can’t think of anything else to do with my life. Writing costs, and having tried other paths, I’d say it’s pretty dear.

No. It’s because of her. You see, in the corner of my study, there is a big armchair. In the armchair sits a girl of eleven.

Her hair is cropped too short, and little spindly tufts are sticking out in weird places, mostly because it won't occur to her to wet her hair in the morning for several years still. But she doesn't pay the random curls any attention, she is too absorbed in her book. The pages keep turning, like the ticking of a very slow clock, and her eyes are shining, and it'll only be three more days until she puts the book down and says, "That was wonderful. What's next?"

If it were the eighties, in a small place too insignificant to be called a town, in the middle of Norway, the answer would be, “Nothing. After the Grey Havens, there’s nothing.” But it’s not, and I’m here typing like crazy so I can answer, "This is next. The Twistrose Key. You will love it."

Of course, the world has changed and expanded around her since then. Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Plain Kate, and there are so many places to visit now that she may never have to sit there, stunned and lost, fearing that the time of adventure is already over.

And yet it is always her I write for, not for myself, and never for the people looking over my shoulder.


camilla said...

sounds like the perfect reason to me. does this girl have a name btw? or would that ruin some of the magic?

Heidi said...

Lovelovelove. Oh, I wish I had known you in the late 70s-early 80s, when we could have shared a swingset and swapped books, and taken off for long afternoons on our bikes or marathon games of Marco Polo in the pool. Our hair would often have been uncombed and we would frequently have been either mud-covered or sunburned, and we would often have had lips stained blue from popsicles, but we would have had ridiculous fun. When we built The Ultimate Fort (patent pending) out of basement furniture, we could have let Kjeld play, too. The three of us could have had a rudimentary book club in the fort, although the "discussion" would probably have devolved into giggling within seconds.

love, your long-lost American older sibling who is herself still 11 in many ways.

tone almhjell said...

That would have been just wonderful,Heidi. I think I'll always be half eleven,too.

And Camilla: That girl may have passed on those random curls to the next generation.

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