When I was too little to read, I would look at the illustrations in the front of my sister’s old Nancy Drew books and wish that I could read. The words in the rest of the books meant nothing to me, but I knew that the letters unlocked some world that I couldn’t yet join.
The Nancy Drew books were lined up on a bookshelf in the hallway, from the first one, The Secret of the Old Clock, to whatever was the last book written at the time. There were at least 30 of them, and since they were bought used, the color of the books varied depending on the edition, from 1930s baby blue to 1970s yellow.
I don’t remember the first time I read a Nancy Drew book, nor do I know how many times I read the whole series. It didn’t matter that the same things happened. I loved the characters and their world. Nancy Drew: intelligent, kind-hearted, and “plucky.” Her faithful friends Bess and George. Her worrying housekeeper Hannah Gruen. And her somewhat absent father Carson Drew.
Conflict, they say, is critical in storytelling. When I started writing a novel I was diligent in creating conflict my scenes. Lots of it. Heaps of it. But I realized I had missed developing kind and tender relationships between important characters. I missed creating the world in which I wanted to escape.
Kindness, tenderness, laughter…that’s the world I want to be in, and that’s the world I want to escape to when I read fiction.
My Nancy Drew books are in boxes under other layers of other books from later years, but they’re still there.
If I wanted to, I know I can still escape into that world. And even though I’m past the age in which they enthrall me, the thought of Nancy Drew still gives me comfort.