All of the “normal” child hood experiences were not open to me. It was like one of those Victorian novels, where the sickly child is kept in the (nicely furnished) attic with a stack of books for company. And for a while I would read, anything, everything, book after book. But there were so many hours in a day, and my eyes (not to mention my poor aching brain) could not keep up. The times where I couldn’t read anymore were the worst. Those were the times when I would lay perfectly still, counting my breaths, wondering if I was actually alive, or if I was in some sort of half-way existence. Those were the times when being trapped in my own head was inhabiting the most horrible prison of all.
But then I found a way out. I don’t think that it’s surprising that Hobo Stew starts with the old trope: children from our world discover a magic portal to another world. Because I had written a few things before I had gotten sick, but they had been hobbies, little stories to entertain myself. Hobo Stew was something bigger, something more engrossing. It was my portal out of the pain. It was an entire world where I was in control, and where I could choose the ending. Well, if I made it to the ending.
I did. God was writing a master story of my life, and over time the daily pain faded into a haunting memory. Sometimes I look at the hand written rough draft, lovingly penciled onto yellow legal pads, and marvel that not only was I able to finish the rough draft, but here I am, all these years later.
Sitting in a doctor’s office with a sinus infection, grateful to be alive. Grateful to be publishing Hobo Stew. Grateful to help others, children and adults alike, escape some of the annoyances of life. And maybe I can inspire someone else to make their own way of the pain, too.
What experiences have books helped you get through? Do you have a favorite "book portal" to a treasured other world?