"Come closer now children and hear the tale of a magical place, called Writopia, not far away in time-space from us."
The white-haired, old woman sat in her rocking chair, swaying in it rhythmically, wrapped in the pale blue shawl she always had with her, as she beckoned us to sit around her feet. She was a sweet old lady, who adored telling us kids stories of magic and making magic. She adjusted her precious shawl around her shoulders and looked us each in the eye as she went on. Oh we couldn’t wait for her to go on!
"In this realm there were many people, an entire community of thinkers and wizards, who spent hours a day writing their spells and incantations. There was a great castle, but instead of having a king live in it, it housed books of all kinds. It was the first and largest living library, with the thinkers and wizards adding to it all the time with works of their own."
Miss Virginia always told the best stories and I had never heard of Writopia before. We all looked around from one to another, each sharing his unspoken confusion as to whether this was a new story, or a secret story she only told once in a blue moon for good kids of the neighborhood. We knew we were her favorite kids from the loving ways she offered us lemonade and cookies all the time. She liked our company. Hearing her stories was an honor all four of us were proud of.
"Everyone in Writopia had helped to build a huge gathering hall where the great thinkers, wizards and poets would meet to share with each other, reviews of their written works that had been submitted to the citizenry for approval and feedback. It was a wondrous place, with long cherry wood tables that they would break bread with each other for special celebrations.
They went all out at these festivals they held six times a year. Peoples from all over the world came to partake of the vast gallery of well-written works. Schools in the magical Writopia were a lot like ours nowadays, but with one major difference. In Writopia, the children are taught to make their make believe happen. In the mind first then through the hand to paper. They taught about the intimacy of writing, the power it has to take a reader places they never dreamed existed."
Her hazel eyes glistened as she spoke and when she laughed her voice was like a singing bird greeting the new day. We sat memorized, in awe of her story where such things could happen that the mind thinks up. I wore the same grin each of my friends wore; it was obvious she hadn’t told this to anyone in a long time, her voice described it to us, but it was her face that added to our excitement because of the animated manner she was talking to us in this afternoon.
"My grandfather told me about Writopia, and his grandmother told him as a young boy. Some stories are not written down children, but many are. Maybe someday one of you will write about Writopia. Would you like living there children?"
She raised her eyebrows questioning each of us with her shining eyes. Tom, Jack, Lisa and I all nodded in turn. It sounded wonderful. Miss Virginia smiled as she rocked in her beloved rocker and went on to tell us about the ruler of Writopia.
"The Ruler or Writopia isn’t a person as you might think. No, the Ruler of Writopia is the Golden Rule, which is ‘Do unto others as you would have done unto you,’ it was the wisest and fairest ruler ever to rule a citizenry. Of course there were councils of different genres, who would serve as guides for others. You see when you wrote something powerful in Writopia, the characters are alive there with you living out the stories you’ve written for them."
The afternoon sunshine was dwindling and we felt our bellies rumbling, but our minds were eager to be filled with visions of such a place where magical beings and creations of people could exist harmoniously with one another. Our bicycles sat patiently waiting for us to jump on them to ride home just in time to wash up for dinner.
"There are many stories I can tell you of the wizards and other inhabitants of Writopia, but let me just tell you of its formation. Would you all like that? I see our time grows short and I have just enough to finish."
"Yes Miss Virginia, I would really love to hear more about the festivals and some of the people there. How come you never told us about it before?" I was always the bold one of our neighborly gang of friends.
"Well, Jason, that’s because I wanted to wait for the perfect time to tell you, and now that you’re all a little bit older then you used to be, this seemed like the perfect time to share the story. What do you think? Well, in the time before Writopia was created, there were many dissatisfied souls grouping together. Disheartened that what the saw around them was badly depicted scenes of domination and censored manipulation. All around them was senseless war, brutal torture of innocents in the name of a common good no one recognized any longer.
These brave people were scared to stay powerless forever, when the burning desire for true creative freedom was so strong within so many. They banded together to form the Writopian Council, where they would discuss plans for their great city to be built. The cost was irrelevant as the members of the council all pitched in their secondary skills to create a most impressive Castle and several surrounding villages. They left the bondage of Monarchy to build the grand castle I spoke of. Shaping it with their artist pads and energetic physical labor.
When they had finished, many new friends arrived and since many hands make light work, the castle was finished in record time. They had farms on the outskirts and the farmers were as respected as the keepers of the writings in the grand hall of wisdom. Everyone worked for the common good of all since the rule was simple and fair, everyone was happy. The Festival of Founding was a grand celebration of the anniversary of the first nights in the castle."
Miss Virginia rocked casually, and gestured slightly as she spoke. We were all ears, imagining the great feast and all the people celebrating.
"No one ever dared invade Writopia. It was well protected by all the magical spells that had been chanted in the name of honesty and fairness. Because there were many of these strong and hearty folk who wrote poetry by night and grew luscious ears of yellow sweet corn by day. In Writopia you could never judge a man just on look alone. That is what separated the citizens of Writopia from the cities around it; their devotion to their Writopian way of living was so important all else matters not. Not war, crime, hatred or depravation. These things existed in the minds of people in Writopia, but they were given life on paper so no one was hurt."
She looked out over the yard towards a slowly passing car. Miss Virginia was in her sixties and in the fading light of the day, she looked almost ethereal with wisps of her white hair curling around her face. She was so colorful in her descriptions you could close your eyes, visualizing as she spoke.
"The characters were like phantoms; coming to the authors who envisioned them and needed their cooperation to make their stories more powerful then just thinking one up without contemplating every step of the way. Things were created in Writopia from needs. Needs of the writers, wizards and poets. It was a marvelous place for all to behold. Although it had the power to take you to the darkest reaches of the human psyche as well as to illuminate your soul.
Censorship was unheard of in Writopia and only ever happened elsewhere. It was the perfect balance of hope and faith, inspiration and determination. It was a triumphant day when they opened their castle doors for the first time. Can you imagine what the dinner tables must have looked like? Oh my, it’s that time my friends. I hope you enjoyed hearing about Writopia. Hope to see you tomorrow for another story or two."
We all rose to stretch and wave our farewells to our beloved storyteller. I could see my friends’ eyes were just as satisfied as my own were. The vision of such a place would fill our minds for months, maybe even years.
Welcome to Brain's Afire, a home for my writings, composed over the decades I've been writing. This short story won a Mentor's Award as Best in my Writing class. I was part of a Fiction 99' a free online class offered by Writers Village University. They offer wonderful classes and if you're looking to get some feedback on your style this group of people are dedicated to making better writers of anyone willing to try.