The power of imagination makes us infinite.

-John Muir

I’ve always had a love for tales involving nature, medievalist fare, and apocalyptic stories. Maybe that’s a strange combination, but I don’t really think so. Those stories are about people getting back to their roots, to the caveman days where we hunted for sustenance and lived by our wits and abilities. When people use their own skills to survive, that means something. We live in a world of crowded cities, cars, packaged foods, television, and office jobs. Everything is handed to us. The days where we had to physically work, scrounge, and fight to survive are all but gone.

Although my novel isn’t about cavemen and hunter-gatherers, it’s about a girl who can’t rely on anyone but herself. She must fight tooth and claw to survive the world in which she’s trapped. Her own power keeps her alive. That ability has always fascinated me: when people discover they are capable of great things. When you’re lost in the forest, alone, knowing how to find food or ward off bears can be great skills to have.

Here are just a few of the books that got me started down this road:

  1. Jean M. Auel – The Clan of the Cave Bear (Earth’s Children series)
  2. Stephen King – The Stand
  3. J.R.R Tolkien – The Lord of the Rings
  4. George R.R. Martin – A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire series)
  5. Pat Frank – Alas, Babylon
  6. Gary Paulsen – Hatchet
  7. Scott O’Dell – Island of the Blue Dolphins

It is for those reasons that typical escapist fiction (epic fantasy, sword-and-sorcery, etc) is so appealing to many readers. Lots of people want action and since many jobs don’t offer it, people dive into books that often vary wildly from their everyday lives. It makes sense, doesn’t it? I wrote my first story in school, in the library during lunch hour. I was bored with everything–my classes, my peers, my never-ending routine sleep, school, homework, sleep. So I wrote about the action that I wished I could have. Sword fights, bandits, heroic rescues, daring deeds.

I poured myself into that first story, even though I had never written an actual story  before. It was jumpy and rife with comma errors, but it was mine. It gave me a sense of accomplishment and fulfilled a need I had not been able to put into words. There were all these ideas in my head now, demanding a way out. And the only way to free them was to put them on paper, to pin them down with words. I wrote for me and slowly my confidence grew. I felt good at something.  But most of all, I found something that I truly enjoyed.

So find that thing that you enjoy. It might not be writing or reading or drawing, but it’s out there somewhere. Waiting. You just have to look for it.

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About melissamickelsen

Nightingale is Melissa Mickelsen's debut novel. She loves hiking in the mountains, eating strawberries, reading, reading, more reading, and really good barbecue.
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One Response to

  1. Daddy says:

    I truly understand what you have said. I believe I have felt the very same things in my life. I suppose that’s why the walks in the mountains with pack and stave mean so much to me. An escape, maybe, from the everyday but something more. A vision of things created by a heavenly hand, with love and caring, so that others may enjoy. I am so proud of you and love you with all of my heart. I always knew you were special. I hope you always are blessed with that sense of adventure and excitement. Love, Daddy

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