Before I ever dreamed that anyone would ever be interested in reading what I created I spent hours devouring the words of others. I fell in love for the first time via the written word, had my heart broken, was scared out of my wits and laughed so hard it hurt, all from that combination of letters written in ink on paper.
Today so many youngsters live in a visual age where everything is fed to them via the TV, Internet, Tablets and phones that I do feel they are missing out on so much in terms of creativity. The most worrying thing about that is where does that leave the written word in the future, in fifty years time will my grandchildren have access to the same quality of literature as I had the chance to fall in love with, will they be able to close their eyes and see Mr Darcy or will they only ever see the Hollywood image that provides a visual short cut, no imagination required. Will they ever sit gripped as they turn page after page, completely unaware of the passing of time or the fact the sun has set outside. Will they ever realise they have to be up in a few hours yet still carry on reading because they only have a few pages to go and cannot bear to not know the end of the story.
The diminishing of the imagination can also have more far reaching consequences for surely it is through those characters we fall in love with as children we also learn so much about compassion and empathy, continued exposure to the visual suffering in the world seems to harden the heart rather than develop the bonds which the written word can produce. And once imagination becomes blunted the what does that signal for creativity not only in literature but life in general, will films become mere displays of technical brilliance lacking in storyline, will the very technology itself stagnate from lack of ideas to move it forward.
The most important thing we can do for out children is to turn off the TV for an hour or two each day and encourage them to walk through other worlds, close their eyes and visualise for themselves, and most of all teach them to dream.