What characters are in your imagination?
today at 8:42 pm
I’ve been leaving my window blinds slightly open for the past few nights. Closing them completely keeps the coldest of the air from getting through any gaps in my window, gaps which seem molecular at times these days. But the cold air is a slight relief as my over-excited radiator keeps chugging along over 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
The only fault is that there are parking-lot lights not far enough from my window, so that there is some light coming through to my pillow (and my eyes) along with the cool air. As a result, I am not getting to sleep as quickly as I have on other nights.
It’s a puzzle sometimes, but one of the snowy nights reminded me of the first time that Louis Stevenson showed up for an imaginary visit, the beginning of my Imaginary Writers’ Room. So last night, I got myself to sleep thinking of the fictional characters and their non-fictional counterparts whose adventures surround me in my apartment. I was too sleepy to want to work on my own new novel, but I could still enjoy the mental company of my favorite characters.
If you haven’t been able to unlock a writers’ room in your imagination, look again at your shelves. Who’s there?
Without looking in the low, but present light, I eased myself to sleep with the roll call of characters around me on my shelves:
Hamish Macbeth and Agatha Raisin, the two detectives created by M.C. Beaton.
Mma Precious Ramotswe of “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” and all the inhabitants of “44 Scotland Street,” two series by the prolific Alexander McCall Smith.
James Herriott, Siegfried Farnon and their veterinary patients in Herriott’s series of memoirs, “All Creatures Great and Small.”
Lord Peter Wimsey and his man Bunter, in the startling detective stories by Dorothy L. Sayers. (She insisted that her theological writing was her mystery writing, but that’s another post.)
Hercule Poirot and Captain Hastings and Tommy and Tuppence Beresford, my favorite among several detective series created by Agatha Christie.
Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, the immortal detecting pair created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. (Not that Arthur didn’t try to take care of that “immortal” bit.)
By the time I got to my other favorite Holmes books, Laurie R. King’s series that begins with “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” and introduces Holmes’ teenaged, half-American, female apprentice, Mary Russell, I was getting comfortably sleepy.
Another case solved for Holmes, Poirot, Wimsey and friends.
So if you find yourself wishing you’d stayed up reading, wondering what shelf to organize next, or just searching for what to re-read in the next snowstorm, take this kind of mental tour of your bookshelves. You’ll start dreaming your way into good company, no matter which characters are in your imagination.
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