In 1965, I was about six or seven years old when I watched my television screen and listened to Leslie Ann Warren as she sang these lyrics in Rogers & Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.” Those words never left me. There were so many times when I would sit apart from others, or close the door to my bedroom, and enter my own little world. In my imagination I could go anywhere, be anyone, do anything! As I entered my teenage years, books became my favorite form of transportation. They took me into the future one day and into the past the next. They took me to galaxies far far away. They turned me into a beautiful lady that no man could resist. They turned me into an archaeologist, an astronaut, a frontiersman, an orphan, a soldier. I often preferred the lives that I could escape to in my books to the life that was actually mine.
In my childhood, I worried about my father who had cancer, I felt disconnected from my mother, I was bullied in school by other girls, and I felt pressured by boys. It was easier to escape into the world of fiction than to live each day in reality. I had friends, but they didn’t know me as well as my books did. What I wanted more than anything, was to have a home where I felt safe and loved, and in my books I could even find that.
I had a ninth grade English teacher who, like the English teacher in my novel, The Tin Box Secret, told me that writing could be a way of letting go of all the bottled up emotions that I was feeling. So I started writing. No one needed to read what I wrote, I just wrote and felt a release from the stresses and pressures of life. That is how I came to love writing.
I was glad when I had a daughter of my own, that she was able to inherit my love for reading. But she has gone beyond reading in her own little corner. She is an Anthropologist who travels to the Amazon in reality. I admire that immensely, and am thankful for the opportunities that have opened up these possibilities to her. Some people dream and some people do. She is a doer, I am a dreamer.
I still sit in my own little chair and travel through time and space, but now it is in my own books. Reading has given way to writing, because in writing I can go wherever I chose and be whomever I want to be. It is my creation, my imagination that takes me places. I suppose at the core of it is my belief that one life is just not enough. I’d rather have many through my books, than only one in reality. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful life, people I love, and people who love me. I have even been fortunate enough to have traveled, and I plan to travel more. But somehow, when I imagine some of these places, my imagination is often better than the reality. I remember the first time I went to Hawaii on my honeymoon, I was disappointed to find it so “civilized” and “modernized.” When I went to Rome and saw the coliseum surrounded by brick buildings decorated with street graffiti, I was disappointed. When I went to France to see a castle and there were modern shops within the fortress’ walls, it was disconcerting. The only time I find reality equal to my imagination is in nature. Seeing a volcano from a helicopter on Kauai, hiking up a mountain in the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, watching the sunset in Key West, these are the images that keep me traveling in reality. Another reason I enjoy traveling is finding the stories that help open my imagination even more. The local stories that have been passed down through generations from times long past. Finding the secrets hidden in off-road, out-of-the-way places, meeting the people, sharing their customs, these things only serve me well and allow me to be even more creative in my writing. But of all the places in the world, there’s still no place I’d rather be than home. And that is why it is so fortunate that from my home, I can still go anywhere without stepping outside of my front door.
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy