Thursday, December 11, 2014

Seasonal Inspiration


I first wish everyone a very happy holidays. I’m sorry that I have been away and unable to write for the past 5 months. The best way for me to say something is that I have been smacked by life. Now that I am coming out of the clouds I can’t believe that it December. So I am sorry again.
For the fact that it is the holiday’s I thought that it would be good to write up something that is inspirational for my fellow writers. My daughter’s favorite thing to do right now is get in the car and drive around to find lights decorating the different homes and buildings around. (She’s 3) But as we where doing this the other night I enjoyed watching the wonder on her face. Before I knew it I was looking with anticipation for the next house.


 It was in that moment that I remembered how I was around this time of year. When we lived in New York City my husband and I would take walks at night to see the city lights for the holidays, going to all the major stores to look at the window displays. Since we had left I hadn’t really had a chance to enjoy that again until this year.
Is there a family tradition that you do with for yourself or the ones that you love? How can you use that in your own writing? There is so much going on during this time of year that you sometimes have to stop and smell the pine trees before it all goes rushing by. Make sure that you take that moment and just think about what a great time of year it is.
I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.

Above image is from below link:

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Summer Solstice


Today is the longest day of the year so it is a day for the Sun!

Some of the celebrations that are happening are:

Jaanipäev (Estonia)
Jāņi (Latvia)
Juhannus (Finland)
Kupala fertility rite
Kupala Night (Ukraine, Belarus, Russia)
Midsummer
Saint Jonas' Festival (Lithuania)
Tiregān (Iran)
Wianki (Poland)
Litha

Most Americans use this day to stay out and have a long day of barbecue and picnics. Now I write at the night most of the time and this is the shortest night of the year, so this is hard day for writing for me. It is a great day for being out and getting some amazing ideas.
The seasons are a great source of inspiration. Seasons change and as you watch the world and it’s changing colors can give you some amazing ideas. You can get something just from watching things change.
There are also brilliant legends from this time of year. So much dealing with the Fae. Many authors have used this as a back drop to their stories. It is something to look into when wanting to write anything Fae.
I personally love Midsummer for the daylight and the joy of spending it with my family. How it inspires my writing is using the world around me and tweaking what I see. Since right now I am working in Urban Fantasy it is interesting to take the world around me and darken it up a bit. I hope to one day to write a story based on the Fae during the Midsummer antics, but that is for another tale.
I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.

Above image is from below link:

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Comic Conventions Are More Than They Seem


Alright so I know I already brought up the whole Convention thing in my article on Spring, but did you know that many authors go to Comic book conventions? That’s right Comic Conventions are more then just about Comics. Now this past weekend was my home town’s big comic convention and then I learned the full name of the convention, Denver Comic Convention and Literary Convention. Though most of the time it is just called Denver Comic Con.
Why is this so important to inspiring writing? Well first off they had panels dedicated to Authors, yes that’s right there where panel’s that where geared for all us writers. There where not just one or a few but a total of 33 of them, which was the exact same amount as for comic books making them tied for 2nd and 3rd most grouped panels. The only other grouping of panels that was more then either of those two groups was DCC Presents at 71 panels. So that being said you can see why going to something like this might be a good idea to go to. For your information I was not able to go to all 33 panels only as some of them where at the same time as others, but every panel I did attend I was able to take away something from each of them. I also was able to meet some other great writers and artists at each of them.
To give you an idea of the panels that they had here is a listing of some of the ones I attended:

  • Marketing for Writers & Authors
  • Mind-Melding: an Author and Artist
  • Unlocking the Story Within
  • Café Otherworld
  • Overcoming Sexism in Geek Culture
  • Importance of Strong Female Characters
  • How is Digital Formating Changing Creation Process?
  • Who’s the Villain?

All of these panels where amazing and the people who ran each of them really just wanted to share the information that they had. They invited questions and if they hadn’t been able to get to your questions they told you where you talk with them after the panel was completed. The authors that I spoke to personally where brilliant and gave me some new ideas on how to do things a bit differently, including branding and ways to go when publishing.
I urge you to check out the conventions in your area and see if they have anything that is for authors because you never know. I felt like the Denver Comic Con & Literary Convention really has helped me in improving my craft. You can see some of the photo’s I took on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ashlyn.ross.14
I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.

Also a special thanks to:

All great people and happy that I got to get to know better.

Above image is from below link:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Magical Places - the Library of Congress


I recently went to Washington D. C. and was able to see a few places. Of those places it was the Library of Congress that was the highlight to my trip. I had been there for only a moment when I was seventeen years old. This time I was able to see much more of the place.
Now as a writer this is holy ground the feeling that came over me reminded me of how it felt when I have come across something truly sacred. The major thing that I thought that we as writers should take away is the writing in the great hall. There are quotes all around it ones that hit home and really inspired me. Reminding me of how much I love writing.
I feel that I should share as many of those quotes with you if you have not heard them. I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.

These are the ones that I remember:


  • Knowledge is power
  • Dreams books are each a world books we know are a substantial world both pure and good
  • Knowledge come but wisdom lingers
  • Wisdom is the principle thing there fore get wisdom an with all thy getting get understanding
  • Ignorance is the curse of God knowledge the wing where with we fly to Heaven
  • How charming is divine philosophy
  • It is the mind that makes the man and our vigor is in our immortal soul
  • They are never alone that are accompanied with noble thoughts
  • Man is one world and hath another to attend him
  • Tongues in trees books in the running brooks sermons in stones and good in everything
  • There is one only good namely knowledge and one only evil namely ignorance
  • Reading maketh a full man conference a ready man and writing an exact man
  • Books must follow sciences and not sciences books
  • The chief glory of every people arises from its authors
  • Science is organized knowledge
  • Too low they build who build beneath the stars
  • Nature is the art of God
  • There is no work of genius which has not been the delight of mankind
  • Beauty is truth Truth is beauty
  • Art is long and time is fleeting
  • There is but one temple in the universe and that is the body of man
  • Words are also actions and actions are a kind of words
  • The history of the world is the biography of great men
  • Behold the bright countenance of truth in the quiet and still air of delightful studies
  • No true painter ever set on canvas all the glorious vision he conceived
  • The first creature of God was the light of sense the last was the light of reason

Monday, May 5, 2014

Mother's Tribute


We all have mother’s or a mother figure that we look to and with Mother’s day fast approaching I see it only fitting to write about them. As I have written before there are many great people in our lives that help in supporting us in whatever we endeavor. To be more on point we all have mothers in our lives that bring what we need. We may think at the time that we want is what we need but as I have learned that is not the case. For those of you that don’t have their mother around there maybe someone out there that you may now think of as a mother figure. I recently saw a hallmark commercial that was a great interpretations of this which was a niece giving an aunt a Mother’s day card. It was quite sweet.
I have a brilliant mother as I have mentioned before. Growing up she always worked hard on making sure that I was healthy and happy. Now as an adult and sometimes feel uncertain about things I know I can turn to her. We try and work out the problem as best we can. She tends to have a level head when I don’t. She truly is my best friend. Since becoming a mother myself I hope to create that same bond with my own daughter. Another person in my life that I am very close to is my grandmother. Her strength and knowledge have always been a big help in some of my darkest times. She has helped me in so many ways and I love being able to get together with her every week for dinner. Watching her play with my daughter the way she used to play with me also brings me great joy.
When it comes to writing our mothers tend to be some of the first people that we ask to read what we have written. They may not like the genre that we write but they will sit and read it because we made it. Knowing them also helps in creating characters that are like them. I know of several different writers that create characters that are based off of their family members. Writing what you know is very important and can help give more depth to your stories.
So for all the mothers out there thank you for everything that you do. Wishing you the best Mother’s day.
I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.

Above image is from below link:

http://123parades.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/mothers-day-deals-london_1398377381.jpg

Monday, April 28, 2014

How History Can Inspire


As my one of my favorite TV shows, Battlestar Galactica stated, “All of this has happened before and will happen again.” Many people have stated you need to study history so that it will not repeat itself. History can teach us so much and if you look at the past you can see how things have a pattern. As writers we can use these patterns or even the historical events for plots or background. We can even use the historical people as archetype for creating your characters. It doesn’t matter what genre that you write you can use history to enhance your writing in so many different says. Even if it is only an idea for where your world is going to be set in. There is so many different histories that you can learn from.


 
   


Some great books that have been written all on the writer’s guide to everyday life during different times through out history. These are great to use during your research of different specific times. There is so much information that is helpful in reading these books. I started collecting these back when I was in high school, they helped me not only with my writing but also with my history papers.
For myself I love learning about history it’s something that my father taught me about through books and playing games. Currently I am writing an urban fantasy that involves time travel and historical events so I have to do research. Some of these events actually help in moving my writing along as I know what happened historically, which makes writing much better all the time.
I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.

Above image is from below link:

Monday, April 14, 2014

Writer's Playlist


“If music be the food of love play on.”(William Shakespeare Twelfth Night Act 1 Scene 1 first line of the play). Music has inspired us in so many different ways. As writers we use different songs to help us while we write. Since music can bring about strong feelings it is no wonder why we use it to help us feel something to help us capture that feeling while we write. Many authors now a days post their playlists on their webpages after their books come out. So that their fans can see where they may have been while writing.
For myself I tend to put a huge playlist to listen to or I turn on my television to the music stations and listen to big band music, some stations call is Sing & Swing. It always takes me away from where ever I am and almost puts me into my own writing. I find it a great way to get into the writing grove when I feel like I’m just not able to convey what I want to. Like while writing this I am listening to It’s Time by Imagine Dragons from their album Night Visions. The first thing when I hear a song that just works for what I am writing is I feel like I can get everything out the way I want it to sound. It all seems to wrap things up in a bow even if sometimes it can take a while to find the song that will work with what your writing. I feel that it is always worth looking for because it can be so helpful.
Is there a set of songs that you listen to while you write? Or maybe it’s a genre of music that you put on to help you with the emotions that you are trying to convey from a character? Do you just listen to one song over and over while working or do you listen to as much as you can?

I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.


Above image is from below link:

Monday, April 7, 2014

Game On!


There are many games out there that can help you with your writing. One of the great games is a card game called Once Upon a Time. It is on it’s third edition now and going strong. Table top even did a review on it, but it can also be used as a writing tool. I have a second edition main set that I have used for years. Whenever I get stuck I pull out the cards and pull three to write about.

There are also writer’s block dice. There are so many that I would recommend just searching the Internet and finding a set that works best for you.
Another great game is Chrononauts. Which is all about changing history to get to your ending. It is one of the great games that helps with understanding time travel.

On a personal note I have grown up playing games like these and some more difficult game. Gaming has always helped me in opening my imagination. It has helped me to strategies and make more dynamic characters.
There is more to gaming than your average person may know about. Take a moment and think back to the games that you have played and how they have influenced you. Because in some way they have touched you.

I hope that it helps you with your writing and may your writing be inspired.



Above images are from:
http://www.thirstymeeples.co.uk/images/uploads/Once_Upon_IN.jpg
http://31.media.tumblr.com/d1cacf7c296f9449fa4d1c19729f3c72/tumblr_mlksnv6fdE1rhyqkio1_500.jpg
http://www.looneylabs.com/sites/default/files/Chrononauts.contents-S.jpg

Monday, March 31, 2014

Camp Nanowrimo


So Camp Nanowrimo is starting on April 1. This is a great opportunity to put a little kick in the butt to your writing. I say this only because sometimes you need to give yourself a deadline to be able to push out that book you have been trying to get out. So I think that every writer should be signed up for this. It is a place that is great for other writers to be able to meet on line or in groups to support each other.
This is the first year that I will be participating in the camp but I have done the November event of Nanowrimo. I personally found it to be a great help and hope that the camp can help me in the same way.
You should check out the event and yes it is an online event. But a lot of cities have groups that actually get together to do write-ins. Below is the link to the webpage to sign up. Hope you do.

I hope that this and the information that I have provided my be helpful to you and my your writing be inspired.

Link for Camp Nanowrimo:

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Person Behind The Writer


For every writer there are usually great people behind them. It may be a friend, family, mentors or even a colleague. Writing is a solo endeavor unless you are writing with a partner. So many of us feel as though we are alone in our own process. I thought that I would give a nod to these behind the scene people. For those of you who have someone that helps you even in the smallest way make sure that you thank them. Because without them you wouldn't be able to finish the things that you wish you could.
On a personal note for me I have many people in my life who believe in me. One of those great people is my husband, who really pushed for me to go after this dream is my husband. He was the one who started to show me that I could believe in my own writing. Then he has actually sat and edited my work. For all of this and so much more I am so grateful to him.
That being said make sure that you thank that person in your life who has helped you behind the scenes of your writing.

I hope that this and the information that I have provided my be helpful to you and my your writing be inspired.

Above image is from:
http://www.writebynight.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Writer.jpg

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Spring Has Come




With it being first day of Spring this week, I thought I should tip my hat to change of season. Spring is the season of rebirth, regrowth, renewal, resurrection, and freshness. It is like the earth is waking with a sigh and a feeling for warmth with a little bit of a chill in the air. Now is a time where many people clean to get the musty feeling of being locked indoors for the winter season. As if we are subjected to not go outside or open our windows during the time. The first signs of spring are the small green shoots that begin to show in the earth.
For kids they love this time of year as Spring Break is at hand. A small gap in their school life to just hang out. Not always a fun time for parents who have to find something that will entertain them for this time period. Then again it can make for some really amazing family trips too.



Personally I’m not a huge Spring person. First off we have the whole time change and springing forward. As a night whole this is never a good experience for me or those who have to deal with me in the mornings. Secondly there is the hay fever that comes with everything starting to bloom. I do however love to be outside in the warm sunshine and not need to wear layer upon layer of clothing. Gardening is another thing that my whole family enjoys, we like to grow our own vegetables.
On a writer’s note there are many conferences that are about to start. In Colorado we have the Colorado Teen Literature Conference and the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. New York City host the publishing conference Book Expo America, which is by far one of my all time favorite conferences to ever have attended. There are many more that you can find all of the world. If you haven’t been to one you should look into the ones that are in your area and see if they might work for you.
Also with spring one thing I like to do is dust off some of my older projects and do a little spring cleaning. Looking over them and seeing if any speak to me differently or that I need to start to working on one of them. Especially if it is something that I haven’t worked on in a long time, reworking it with new eyes can change the whole reason you may have put it down in the first place.
Something else to know is that the team that has brought you National Novel Writing Month also has a Camp NANOWRIMO that is going to be starting April 1st. Please look into it as I find that this helps me push through those times when writing is not coming as easy as I would like it to.



So what are your springtime rituals? Does your writing change with the season? Are you going to be going to any writing conference this year?

I hope that this and the information that I have provided my be helpful to you and my your writing be inspired.

Above images are from:

Monday, March 17, 2014

May the Luck of the Irish Be With You



Saint Patrick’s Day is a day to celebrate the Saint of Ireland and Irish culture and heritage. To most this is just a drinking holiday, but Ireland has a very rich history for loving the arts. They are very big on promoting the arts, even going as far as giving major tax brakes to all artists.


In my house hold we celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day by eating Colcannon. Which is cabbage and mashed potatoes. As well as sausage for bangers, but we are vegan so we get meatless sausage. We usually have Celtic music play too something like Celtic Women.
There are many great Irish writers from poets, novelists, playwrights and so much more. For a full listing of these great people check out this Wikipedia page on Irish People. I also have a great book on how the Irish saved the Civilization by Thomas Cahill. It was quite a great read.


  On a writing note this is a great time to learn about the Irish culture. What is your character’s heritage background? If they are American where did their family come from? As Irish is the second most common ancestry among Americans. So it is very likely that your character may identify with the Irish.
Do you celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day? Do you write Irish characters?
Well whatever you do I hope you have a great Saint Patrick’s Day.
I hope that this and the information that I have provided my be helpful to you and my your writing be inspired.

Above picture are from:
http://www.stamfordstpatricksdayparade.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/St.-Patricks-Day.png

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Lady's of Inspiration



March is the Women’s History Month. It got me thinking about the different women in my life as well as throughout history that help inspired my writing. With so many brilliant women out there sometimes it is hard to just focus on a few.
In science; Marie Curie who was a physicist and chemist, she conducted pioneer research on radioactivity. This is the first woman to win the Nobel Prize the only woman to win in two fields as well the only one to win in multiple science fields. Marie also had a daughter that she worked with, Irene Joliot-Curie whom also was awarded the Nobel Prize. The entire Curie family is the most Nobel laureates.
In mathematics; the first woman who was recognized as a mathematician was Hypathia from Alexandria, Egypt.
         For authors I have found a picture to depict some of the greats and another one of some of my favorite authors.


Top Row: Maya Angelou, J. K. RowlingMary ShelleyGeorge EliotEmily Bronte
Second Row: Charlotte BronteVirginia Woolf Harriet Beecher StoweAyn RandMargaret Mitchell
Third Row: Edith Wharton, Zora Neale HurstonAlice Walker, S. E. HintonAgatha Christie
Fourth Row: Laura Ingalls WilderHarper LeeJane Austen, Emily DickinsonLouisa May Alcott


Top Row: Cassandra Clare, Anne Bishop, Jeaniene Frost, Alex Flinn, Robin McKinley, Kelley Armstrong
Second Row: Alyxandra Harvey, Kiera Cass, Vicki Pettersson, Jane Yolen, Christine Warren 
Third Row: Elizabeth Hadon, Carrie Jones, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Kerstin Gier, Sara Douglass  
Forth Row: Carolyn MacCullough, Patricia C. Wrede, Rachel Hawkins, Aimee Agresti, Sarah MacLean

On a more personal note, I have some really amazing women in my life. To start with is my mother, who has taught me so much, she is strong, smart and compassionate, truly my hero. Then there is my grandmother, she has been my confidant and someone who has always taught me to follow my dreams. In my great friends I have a brilliant artist, Savannah Zambrano who lives in New York City. She is one of those people who can make beautiful things. Check out her webpages http://savannahzambrano.com/http://unlazy.com/ where she does a daily comic strip. Then there is my cheerleader and writing partner Rebecca Green Gasper who has helped in pushing me to follow my heart. You can check out her website at http://rebeccagreengasper.com/. These are just a few of the amazing women in my life who have helped me to be a better person because of having them in my life.
Knowing all of these great people help when I sit down to write dynamic well rounded characters. I think that writing a woman that is more then just her job or her role in her family, she is amazing, strong in her own way and brilliant. When I am writing I think of these great people both in history and around me, adding a piece of them into my work and making them immortal.
Are there any women in your life that help you with your writing? Do they fully come into view in your characters or are there parts and pieces of them which create a whole new one?
I hope that this and the links below my be helpful to you and may your writing be inspired.

Other great sites that talk about great women:

Above images are from:
http://shenandoah.co.lib.va.us/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Women-History-2013.jpg
http://classicbookreader.files.wordpress.com/2013/09/womenauthors-tile.jpg
The final image of my favorite authors is one that I created myself

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Re-posting of an important article: Neil Gaiman: Why our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming



This is a Re-Posting of an article because I think everyone should read it. Here is the link as well. 

   http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/oct/15/neil-gaiman-future-libraries-reading-daydreaming


Thank you The Guardian for this great article!


Neil Gaiman: Why our Future Depends on Libraries, Reading and Daydreaming
A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens


'We have an obligation to imagine' … Neil Gaiman gives The Reading Agency annual lecture on the future of reading and libraries. Photograph: Robin Mayes

It's important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members' interests, of a sort. So, I am going to be talking to you about reading. I'm going to tell you that libraries are important. I'm going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can do. I'm going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things.

And I am biased, obviously and enormously: I'm an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living though my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down. It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur.

So I'm biased as a writer. But I am much, much more biased as a reader. And I am even more biased as a British citizen.

And I'm here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the Reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.

And it's that change, and that act of reading that I'm here to talk about tonight. I want to talk about what reading does. What it's good for.

I was once in New York, and I listened to a talk about the building of private prisons – a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth – how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldn't read. And certainly couldn't read for pleasure.

It's not one to one: you can't say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.

And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction.

Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it's a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it's hard, because someone's in trouble and you have to know how it's all going to end … that's a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se is pleasurable. Once you learn that, you're on the road to reading everything. And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they ever were: we navigate the world with words, and as the world slips onto the web, we need to follow, to communicate and to comprehend what we are reading. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far.

The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them.

I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading. I've seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was RL Stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy.
Enid Blyton's Famous Five book Five Get Into a Fix
No such thing as a bad writer... Enid Blyton's Famous Five. Photograph: Greg Balfour Evens/Alamy

It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you.

Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child's love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian "improving" literature. You'll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant.

We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into RL Stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen King's Carrie, saying if you liked those you'll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen King's name is mentioned.)

And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You're being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you're going to be slightly changed.

Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals.

You're also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And it's this:

The world doesn't have to be like this. Things can be different.

I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? SF had been disapproved of for a long time. What had changed?

It's simple, he told me. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the US, to Apple, to Microsoft, to Google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls.

Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you've never been. Once you've visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.

And while we're on the subject, I'd like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if it's a bad thing. As if "escapist" fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself in.

If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldn't you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.

As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.

Tolkien's illustration of Bilbo Baggins's home

Tolkien's illustration of Bilbo's home; Bag End. Photograph: HarperCollins

Another way to destroy a child's love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I was lucky. I had an excellent local library growing up. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the children's library every morning and working his way through the card catalogue, looking for books with ghosts or magic or rockets in them, looking for vampires or detectives or witches or wonders. And when I had finished reading the children's' library I began on the adult books.

They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans. They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader – nothing less or more – which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old.

But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university), about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.

I worry that here in the 21st century people misunderstand what libraries are and the purpose of them. If you perceive a library as a shelf of books, it may seem antiquated or outdated in a world in which most, but not all, books in print exist digitally. But that is to miss the point fundamentally.

I think it has to do with nature of information. Information has value, and the right information has enormous value. For all of human history, we have lived in a time of information scarcity, and having the needed information was always important, and always worth something: when to plant crops, where to find things, maps and histories and stories – they were always good for a meal and company. Information was a valuable thing, and those who had it or could obtain it could charge for that service.

In the last few years, we've moved from an information-scarce economy to one driven by an information glut. According to Eric Schmidt of Google, every two days now the human race creates as much information as we did from the dawn of civilisation until 2003. That's about five exobytes of data a day, for those of you keeping score. The challenge becomes, not finding that scarce plant growing in the desert, but finding a specific plant growing in a jungle. We are going to need help navigating that information to find the thing we actually need.
A boy reading in his school library
Photograph: Alamy

Libraries are places that people go to for information. Books are only the tip of the information iceberg: they are there, and libraries can provide you freely and legally with books. More children are borrowing books from libraries than ever before – books of all kinds: paper and digital and audio. But libraries are also, for example, places that people, who may not have computers, who may not have internet connections, can go online without paying anything: hugely important when the way you find out about jobs, apply for jobs or apply for benefits is increasingly migrating exclusively online. Librarians can help these people navigate that world.

I do not believe that all books will or should migrate onto screens: as Douglas Adams once pointed out to me, more than 20 years before the Kindle turned up, a physical book is like a shark. Sharks are old: there were sharks in the ocean before the dinosaurs. And the reason there are still sharks around is that sharks are better at being sharks than anything else is. Physical books are tough, hard to destroy, bath-resistant, solar-operated, feel good in your hand: they are good at being books, and there will always be a place for them. They belong in libraries, just as libraries have already become places you can go to get access to ebooks, and audiobooks and DVDs and web content.

A library is a place that is a repository of information and gives every citizen equal access to it. That includes health information. And mental health information. It's a community space. It's a place of safety, a haven from the world. It's a place with librarians in it. What the libraries of the future will be like is something we should be imagining now.

Literacy is more important than ever it was, in this world of text and email, a world of written information. We need to read and write, we need global citizens who can read comfortably, comprehend what they are reading, understand nuance, and make themselves understood.

Libraries really are the gates to the future. So it is unfortunate that, round the world, we observe local authorities seizing the opportunity to close libraries as an easy way to save money, without realising that they are stealing from the future to pay for today. They are closing the gates that should be open.

According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the "only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account".

Or to put it another way, our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable. All of these things. And as a country, England will fall behind other developed nations because it will lack a skilled workforce.

Books are the way that we communicate with the dead. The way that we learn lessons from those who are no longer with us, that humanity has built on itself, progressed, made knowledge incremental rather than something that has to be relearned, over and over. There are tales that are older than most countries, tales that have long outlasted the cultures and the buildings in which they were first told.

I think we have responsibilities to the future. Responsibilities and obligations to children, to the adults those children will become, to the world they will find themselves inhabiting. All of us – as readers, as writers, as citizens – have obligations. I thought I'd try and spell out some of these obligations here.

I believe we have an obligation to read for pleasure, in private and in public places. If we read for pleasure, if others see us reading, then we learn, we exercise our imaginations. We show others that reading is a good thing.

We have an obligation to support libraries. To use libraries, to encourage others to use libraries, to protest the closure of libraries. If you do not value libraries then you do not value information or culture or wisdom. You are silencing the voices of the past and you are damaging the future.

We have an obligation to read aloud to our children. To read them things they enjoy. To read to them stories we are already tired of. To do the voices, to make it interesting, and not to stop reading to them just because they learn to read to themselves. Use reading-aloud time as bonding time, as time when no phones are being checked, when the distractions of the world are put aside.

We have an obligation to use the language. To push ourselves: to find out what words mean and how to deploy them, to communicate clearly, to say what we mean. We must not to attempt to freeze language, or to pretend it is a dead thing that must be revered, but we should use it as a living thing, that flows, that borrows words, that allows meanings and pronunciations to change with time.

We writers – and especially writers for children, but all writers – have an obligation to our readers: it's the obligation to write true things, especially important when we are creating tales of people who do not exist in places that never were – to understand that truth is not in what happens but what it tells us about who we are. Fiction is the lie that tells the truth, after all. We have an obligation not to bore our readers, but to make them need to turn the pages. One of the best cures for a reluctant reader, after all, is a tale they cannot stop themselves from reading. And while we must tell our readers true things and give them weapons and give them armour and pass on whatever wisdom we have gleaned from our short stay on this green world, we have an obligation not to preach, not to lecture, not to force predigested morals and messages down our readers' throats like adult birds feeding their babies pre-masticated maggots; and we have an obligation never, ever, under any circumstances, to write anything for children that we would not want to read ourselves.

We have an obligation to understand and to acknowledge that as writers for children we are doing important work, because if we mess it up and write dull books that turn children away from reading and from books, we 've lessened our own future and diminished theirs.

We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine. It is easy to pretend that nobody can change anything, that we are in a world in which society is huge and the individual is less than nothing: an atom in a wall, a grain of rice in a rice field. But the truth is, individuals change their world over and over, individuals make the future, and they do it by imagining that things can be different.

Look around you: I mean it. Pause, for a moment and look around the room that you are in. I'm going to point out something so obvious that it tends to be forgotten. It's this: that everything you can see, including the walls, was, at some point, imagined. Someone decided it was easier to sit on a chair than on the ground and imagined the chair. Someone had to imagine a way that I could talk to you in London right now without us all getting rained on.This room and the things in it, and all the other things in this building, this city, exist because, over and over and over, people imagined things.

We have an obligation to make things beautiful. Not to leave the world uglier than we found it, not to empty the oceans, not to leave our problems for the next generation. We have an obligation to clean up after ourselves, and not leave our children with a world we've shortsightedly messed up, shortchanged, and crippled.

We have an obligation to tell our politicians what we want, to vote against politicians of whatever party who do not understand the value of reading in creating worthwhile citizens, who do not want to act to preserve and protect knowledge and encourage literacy. This is not a matter of party politics. This is a matter of common humanity.

Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. "If you want your children to be intelligent," he said, "read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales." He understood the value of reading, and of imagining. I hope we can give our children a world in which they will read, and be read to, and imagine, and understand.

• This is an edited version of Neil Gaiman's lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London. The Reading Agency's annual lecture series was initiated in 2012 as a platform for leading writers and thinkers to share original, challenging ideas about reading and libraries.

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