Today, I’m going to tell you all about my time as an amateur paleontologist.
It was a lazy summer day in the eighties. I was about five years old (hey, I said I was an amateur) and had been digging holes in the back yard, as children are wont to do. I’d been poking around under a yew bush that was the size of a Volkswagen bus, when my shovel struck something hard. Being the curious child that I was, I dug up said hard object.
It was a dinosaur!
Amazed by my find, I dug some more. There were more dinosaurs! And saber toothed tigers! Was that a pterodactyl? Ooo, a triceratops!
I was in five year old heaven. Like all children, I was completely enamored with dinosaurs. The science museum in my hometown had a life size tyrannosaurus rex, and an awesome stegosaurus skeleton. I also grew up near the Nash Dinosaur Tracks, which had dinosaur footprints galore. It’s still there: http://nashdinosaurtracks.com/
But, they didn’t have entire dinosaurs.
I had entire dinosaurs.
Anyway, back to my most awesome discovery. After I’d dug up all there was to find, I hauled my loot inside the kitchen, and promptly got yelled at by my grandmother for tracking dirt in the house. So I went back outside, hosed of my treasures, and arranged them around my room. Here’s a picture of what I dug up that day:
Okay, a few of you may have suspected that I hadn’t actually dug up dinosaurs. It turned out that my uncle had buried them in the back yard when he was a kid. This meant that they’d been there since the fifties, not the Cretaceous period (or Jurassic, in the case of the stegosaurus). Still, I will never forget the feelings of magic and wonder I had felt when I held those little plastic critters in my hands.
For the barest moment, I was a real dinosaur hunter.
That, my friends, is suspension of disbelief.
I try to evoke that same emotion in my own writing, to make the reader so emotionally invested in the story that they forget that elves aren’t real (or are they?) and that secret libraries don’t really hold magical artifacts (or do they?). Suspension of disbelief is about as close to creating magic as we can get, and the feeling of magic and wonder evoked by such stories are priceless. Just as priceless as the memory of the day I found dinosaurs in my back yard.