I am doing a workshop in Canberra in a few weeks’ time on finding your inner child and writing from deep within a child’s point of view. In preparation for this, I have been spending my morning train writing time going for a bit of a wander down memory lane, trying to reacquaint myself with my inner five-year-old.
Memory is a strange beast. I don’t think I have a particularly good long-term memory and the events and feelings I am recalling of my former and very much younger self are really just tiny snippets – snapshots, but with only part of the picture in sharp focus and the rest kind of bleary. And it’s the bleary bits that I have been trying to tap into and bring into sharper focus. Often without much success. And when I have remembered something more fully, it is hard to ascertain how much is actual real memory and how much of it is my own invention. It’s been an interesting exercise.
I did recall an early childhood “friend” and event that I had totally forgotten about though. Her name was Jennifer (last name unknown) and these are the things I remember:
- She was related to someone famous – perhaps Bobby Limb (can’t be certain) and the five-year-old me found this amazingly exciting. I was in awe of her because of it – even slightly jealous.
- She was pretty and tidy and frilly and I aspired to be like her. I thought she was a much, much better person than me. She fascinated me.
- I was invited to her birthday party at her house. I felt that it was a great honour to be invited. I was excited and nervous about going.
- Her house was white and large. Two storeys – which to me meant that she was also very, very rich. Inside there was a wide sweeping staircase that I longed to climb, but wasn’t brave enough.
- In her backyard there was a wooden cubbyhouse fitted out with play stoves and tables and shelves and couches. Another sign of wealth. There was a swing hanging from a tree and the grass was the softest and greenest grass I had ever felt or seen.
- I recall Jennifer in a white frilly dress swinging wildly on the swing, her long blond curls streaming out behind her.
- I felt that she was out of reach for me. And that I was just lucky to have been invited to her party.
Interestingly, there are lots of things about the party that I can’t remember – things you would think would have been important to the five-year-old me, such as: any other children or people, party food, presents, balloons and party games. Not sure what this means, but I find it intriguing.
I came across an article on a similar topic the other day by Alane Ferguson about channelling your inner teenager that is worth a read. I have much stronger memories of my teenage years. Perhaps that is why I have been attracted to writing novels for young adults of late.