Long summer days under the pines in North Carolina could be very boring without some creativity. Store bought toys had to stay in the house, but I didn’t want to stay inside. My solution was playing with rocks. I built rock cities, simple at first, but increasingly complex and large. I invented elaborate stories for these cities and eventually competing agendas led to conflict.
The cities fielded rock armies, tanks and aircraft, I even developed imaginary technology for the cities to wage war on one another. A handy lead pipe sparking on the rocks as countless battles raged across my front yard gave me a satisfying release I wouldn’t have dared with store bought toys. I even drew a map and worked out a history for the Valley of Nod that I named my imaginary country.
Building and breaking rock cities didn’t seem odd at the time. What I remember most are the stories and building conflict that kept me occupied for days at a time. The first characters I imagined inhabited the Valley of Nod, and the first stories I constructed played out there too. I only wish I’d written them down, instead of narrating them in my head.
When I write now, I have all the years I spent in the Valley of Nod bringing an imaginary world to life to guide me in my world building. The characters and conflict I write about now is more refined, the settings are far different, but a part of every story I tell hearkens back to those summer days under North Carolina pine trees. I’ll rock on, as long as I’m able.