"Second star to the right, and straight on 'til morning."
My first experience with Neverland happened years ago on a quiet street in London... er, rather, under a maple tree. I cannot recall what age I was when I first saw Disney's animated version of Peter Pan, but I found the story fascinating from the first moment I watched it. From there, I've seen the sequel Return to Neverland, as well as the four (rather disappointing) Tinker Bell films that the same studio has produced. Hook I also saw at an early age, and I can still clearly recall how much the scene wherein Hook placed the man in the trunk and then added scorpions unnerved me. I always left the room at that part. But the rest of the story was interesting, considering the boy who wouldn't grow up, in fact, did.
Then in 2004, I think it was, I saw the new, real-life Peter Pan, the one that stars Jeremy Sumpter and Jason Isaacs. I didn't like it very much back then, immensely preferring the vivid colors of the Disney version, but recently, my family got it back out of the library, and I found that I really actually do enjoy it (with the exception of a few things). About two days after watching it, I found J.M. Barrie's original story at a second hand shop and nearly burst out of my skin, anticipating reading it. Unfortunately, I didn't have money with me, so my sister bought the book and therefore earned the rights to read it first. I had to wait until she was done. I'm sad in a way that I didn't read Peter Pan (or Peter and Wendy as Barrie originally titled it) when I was younger, but I feel that I appreciate the story so much more now that I'm... well, older. Yes, I first read the book when I was 20. On the day that I turned 20. Your point?
But what is it about Neverland that makes it memorable? Well, for one thing, Neverland truly is the land of dreams, made up of dreams. It's the place children dream about at night, it's the place where they can always be young and have fun. It's the land of pirates, mermaids, fairies, redskins, and so much more. This is what Barrie had to say about it:
"Of course the Neverlands vary a good deal. John’s, for instance, had a lagoon with flamingos flying over it at which John was shooting, while Michael, who was very small, had a flamingo with lagoons flying over it. John lived in a boat turned upside down on the sands, Michael in a wigwam, Wendy in a house of leaves deftly sewn together. John had no friends, Michael had friends at night, Wendy had a pet wolf forsaken by its parents."
Another thing that makes Neverland, or really the story of Neverland, so unforgettable is the characters. I mean, who hasn't heard of Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, Wendy Darling, or Captain Hook? When talking about boys never growing up, who doesn't think of Peter Pan? When someone mentions the word "fairy" who doesn't conjure up images of a certain green-clad Tinker Bell? The characters J.M. Barrie created and wrote about may not be real, but he portrayed them in such a way that they seem real. Who hasn't waited at the window, looking for the second star and a guide to Neverland? Who hasn't dreamed of flying and fighting pirates?
These are also the characters of the impossible. Where else would we find a tick-tocking crocodile? A boy who can fly? A loveable pirate who always wipes his glasses instead of his sword after killing and thinks of himself as menacing as he sits at his sewing machine? A band of boys who fell out of their prams, were never claimed, and so were sent to Neverland? A...
Okey dokey, we're getting too many questions. But you get my point. Neverland and its occupants has changed the children's land of dreams and adventures forever. And it's one of my favorite imaginary worlds. 'Nuff said.
So, how has Neverland affected my writing? Neverland opened up the possibility of the impossible. It's all dreams and imagination. And those are two things a writer must have. Since a man with a hook instead of a right hand can be popular, and a boy who flies and never grows up can become legendary, anything is possible, right? Write with confidence, even when you're writing about characters of the impossible! If you don't think they are real, then no one will think them real.
By the way, did you know that J.M. Barrie originally wrote Peter Pan as a play titled The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up? The character of Peter was based on his brother David who died as young boy, and Barrie's mother was credited for saying that she was comforted in the fact that her son would never grow up and remain a boy forever. I want to say that I've heard of rumors that Barrie planned to write a sequel to the play and never did, but while I could be wrong (I can't locate the site where I read that info), it's interesting to think of what Barrie had in mind for Neverland's future!
This post was written as part of the Memorable Worlds series, and by request of Kendra of Knitted By God's Plan, as she is anticipating the release of her new book, The Ankulen. Do stop by her blog!