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Natalie Smithson: Unlocking our imagination with stories

Natalie Smithson is a freelance writer and creative at Bobbin About who specialises in work for parenting, children, and baby brands. Here she tells her story of how her active imagination as a child landed her in hot water, but went on to fuel her career as a writer.

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Stories have been tampering with me since I was a little girl. Imagine, stepping into a secret world or going on an extraordinary adventure of epic proportions. My imagination carried me away into strange lands and unusual places. I was drawn in, page by page.

When I was tall enough to reach and extract the key from my Nan’s back door I wasn’t yet old enough to realise it had no magical power. Certain that the heavy, ginormous key unlocked a door to The Secret Garden, I took it home with me, over sixty miles.

Nan wasn’t best pleased.

The grown-ups were onto me when I discovered a teeny tiny door under her stairs. They showed me there was only a small cylinder hoover inside, but I wondered if Wonderland was palpable if I crawled within.

Books gave me a sense that there is something more beyond what we already know. Somewhere past the bland notion of happy-ever-after but before the cosmic exploration of sci-fi, I found myself nestled in with curious notions about truth and fiction.

Now, as a parent and step-parent, one of my greatest pleasures is the sound of laughter when an unexpected voice fills the room to adopt the character from a bedtime story.

A child’s complete attention when absorbed in a good book sits heavy as a blanket in winter, and the gong of recognition signals the mark of a child who is listening and growing.

Stories are a gateway for children to explore their own feelings and the greater world around them. Like most parents, I want to open as many doors as possible for them to choose their own path.

Who knows where it will lead?

When you’re small, it’s difficult to comprehend that the things you love most in the world are all created by someone.

Inventive works are presented on paper, on a screen, or accompanied by music, and the stories become renowned and adored. It’s not until we understand the creative process that we can credit the person who brought the original idea to life.

Being a writer always seemed fanciful to me as a child; these big stories with long words and enormous hearts. They were greater than anything I could conceive of at the time.

As I got older, I came to realise that they could all be broken down, word by word, and I put a full stop after the idea that I couldn’t be a writer.

I started to write a plan for my business.

Without the weight of possibility sitting on my mind, I might never have believed I could do it. Yet here I am, a writer, waiting to see the stories that the next generation paints across the sky.

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