I’m not really a tattoo person.
It’s not that I don’t like them, really, more just that tattoos are expensive, and I would rather spend the money on books or bookshelves or writing pens or possibly food and cleaning supplies and toilet paper.
Or books. Because, you know, I’m a responsible adult with my own house, and I totally don’t run low on practical items.
But, if I were going to get a tattoo, it would definitely be a very tiny silhouette of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell behind my left ear. (Not that I’ve actually thought about this extensively or anything.) There is something about this book that connected with me on a very personal level the first time I read it. I am a writer, a storyteller, and I spend my spare time wandering in the worlds that I’ve created. Writing, as anyone who takes their writing seriously can tell you, is work. It’s lovely work, but it is work. When I get up in the morning I treat it like a job, which means I show up and do the work whether I feel like it or not.
But creativity, in its finest form, is childlike. It isn’t nine to five in an office, it isn’t a shopping list or a five year plan, or a schedule.
To me, it’s Neverland.
If you want to be an author, you have to be able to balance those two. Peter Pan, both as this glorious little book, and the Disney movie which I unashamedly watch regularly, helps me to do that. It reminds me that, however hard I have to work, however many jobs I have to have to fund my crazy ambition as a writer and an author, it’s worth it. Because my books are my Neverland. They are the places where I can forget about nine to five, cleaning supplies, and sixty hour weeks, and instead wander forests and ruins, listen to the trees whispering under a pale moon, or watch the stars on a winter’s night. Too often, when I am working too hard and writing has become a chore, I forget that.
Peter Pan reminds me of it again.
I love this book because not only is it a wonderfully told story of childhood and imagination, but it is also written in a very childlike way. Not condescendingly, as so many children’s books are now, but beautifully. In a way that makes you want to read it aloud. Everything about this book, from Peter searching for his wayward shadow, to Wendy Darling and her thimble-kiss, to Tinker Bell and the Lost Boys, to Tiger Lily and her wonderful Indian tribe, is a safe haven for me in many ways. Captain Hook is a deliciously evil villain, the mermaids are malicious and beautiful, and Neverland itself seems to have a personality of its own, as if it were another character all by itself in this charming story. As a writer, I enjoy returning to this book again and again, whether I need to be reminded of why I keep writing or not. Oddly enough, it has become more a part of my adulthood than it ever was a part of my childhood.
I sometimes wonder if J.M. Barrie intended that. After all, it’s the adults who have to be reminded to use their imaginations.
A moment after the fairy’s entrance the window was blown open by the breathing of the little stars, and Peter dropped in. He had carried Tinker Bell part of the way, and his hand was still messy with the fairy dust.