Here is the beginning of my children’s book (9 to 12-years), The Dividing Line, for the young and their young-at-heart old folk.
I have not written for young people before and so we begin two journeys. One is a journey into The Dividing Line and the other is a journey into writing children’s fiction. I hope we all survive both ventures. The Dividing Line is an imaginary tale. I say it is imaginary but, perhaps, other-worldly is more accurate. People call other-worldly places “imaginary” because they think the place is only in someone’s mind. So is life. In our mind. However, so as to not blur the line of sanity and different ways of seeing, I will concede to imaginary – for the time being, that is.
Chapter 1: Nannie’s Nest
Nannie wasn’t an ordinary grandmother. I suppose many children think that their grandparents are not ordinary people, but Nannie did have certain peculiar things about her. For one thing, she danced. Not so extraordinary, you might say, but Nannie was rather, well, holy, and holy people don’t dance, do they? The sort of dancing that Nannie did wasn’t at all holy. Her wardrobe which had lots of white, spiritual-looking clothes also had very sparkly, twirly ones. It could not have been more different than what Nannie seemed like. Sometimes, Nannie said that that’s why she did it. There was something else strange about Nannie – much stranger than dancing. She knew things and saw things that other people didn’t know or see. However, you must decide that for yourself.
Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you, she lived in a nest. That’s what Molly called it. Molly was her granddaughter. She was ten-years-old. Ten is the age when you are much more grown-up inside than your parents think you are. They still see you as cute; at least, when you are being decent. A little wearisome, perhaps, but they generally see you as still quite innocent. You are not.
By ten, you know many things. You know anger, hatred, jealousy, revenge, pettiness, and fear. You sometimes even choose these things quite deliberately. All going well, you also know calmness, love, kindness, fairness, forgiveness, and courage. You may not always choose them, but you could if you wanted to because you know what they are. And that’s the point. You know much more at ten than your family realises. Generally, it suits well enough to keep adults in the dark even though you may have occasional outbursts of indignation at their disrespect for your maturity. Usually, however, you can get away with more when no one is looking at you as a grown-up.
Molly lived in the country. It was always fun to drive the few hours to Nannie’s nest in the city. Nannie didn’t always live in a nest. For a while, she lived in a very old cottage with a lovely garden full of roses, daffodils, and bright, little flowers with happy faces. I can’t tell you the names of the little flowers because there were too many of them to remember. Then, Nannie moved to a modern unit which she said was the most climate-controlled place she had ever known. Molly wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. After that, she moved to the nest. Molly started calling it Nannie’s Nest because not long after moving into her 10thfloor apartment, Nannie said that it bothered her not to live on the ground.
“It’s ungrounding,” said Nannie.
Molly didn’t know what that meant.
“It’s like living on a cliff or at the top of a tall tree,” said Nannie.
When Nannie first moved there, she told Molly’s uncle that she could feel the building swaying in the wind.
The uncle laughed and said, “Are you sure? I work in tall buildings – much taller than ten stories – and no one ever complains of feeling the building moving. If they could feel it, I’m sure they would complain.”
Nannie said that she was sure and because Nannie’s grown-up children were used to her feeling strange things and seeing even odder things, the uncle believed her and said she must be a building-whisperer.
A little while later, Nannie said that she was mistaken and that the building wasn’t moving at all. As she was unused to living so high, it had set off a dizzy spell and that is how she came to feel that the building was moving. Molly noticed that this turnaround in information seemed to not have the slightest impact on the uncle believing that Nannie could feel things that other people couldn’t.
Going back to the matter of the nest, Nannie told Molly, “I may miss living on the earth but living in the sky does have its advantages. The sky is important too.”
She said the last bit in a way that made Molly think that she didn’t want either the sky or the earth to feel less than the favourite.
“While I am here,” said Nannie, “I will make the most of it. Up in the sky, I can talk to the sun and the moon. I can see the clouds go dancing by. And as for those sneaky storms that like to surprise attack and wash everything clean, I’ll have my eye on them.”
“What happens if you aren’t grounded?” asked Molly.
“I’m not sure,” said Nannie.
It surprised Molly whenever Nannie said that she didn’t know something because she seemed to know a lot. Anyway, she didn’t seem worried about it so neither was Molly.
Although Nannie lived in a cottage, and then a unit, and now a nest, there was one thing that she didn’t and wouldn’t change – her suburb. That’s because the dividing lines were there, and if you knew about the dividing lines, you would never move away from them.