I love old books. I mean OLD books---not just the content, but the packaging as well. It doesn't matter if they're first edition, rare or what have you, I just love books with a long, well-loved history. Inscriptions a bonus, better if they have a sweet/weird/bone-chilling/heart-melting story behind it.
This one, LIGHTFOOT THE DEER by Thornton W. Burgess (1922), was a gift from my grandma when I was ten. It was HER favorite book when she was in 3rd grade (as seen by the inscription) and I seriously, with all my Bambi-licious heart, read it and loved it just as much as she did.
Grandma Iva (or Ijahawkiwa, as she was properly known) was one of my very first "creative cheerleaders." On our special days together, we wrote stories and painted pictures. She told me not just that I could be an artist but that I SHOULD. Everyone who created was an artist, whether it be a creation of words, paint, metal, numbers, technology, nature and so on. She taught me the world is made up on lines and circles, the simplest of shapes, but something beautiful and godly can come out of them. The same with simple words and powerful messages: "I have a dream" and "Jesus wept" and "Call me Ishmael" and "The end." Although she's passed on now, so much of what she taught me comes back when I write my silly stories, paint my weird pictures and read awesome books to my kid.
Since then, of course, I've had a gaggle of wicked awesome cheerleaders: any member of my family, who would dive into a new mushy manuscript at the drop of a hat, my beloved "Eat Write Period" crit group from Boston (who I can't think of without craving Panera shortbread) and my dear patient husband, who always has the right words whether I want to hear them or not. I owe pages and pages of thanks to every one of these people and more.
Some people might not realize that a single book, a mere 50,000 plus words is a conglomeration of experience...and not just from the author. In another one of my favorite oldies---BLOW BLOW YOUR TRUMPETS by Seamus Frazer (awesome antediluvian sci-fi from 1945, by the way. Pretty scarce, but totally worth the search)---the author dedicates the book to his wife:
"This tale, written for you at odd moments during my exile in the East, is dedicated to you with all my love. You were with me when I conceived the story; and if there are defects in it now that it is finished, put them down to the fact that I had not the happiness of your wise criticism as I pieced it together in desert tents or under palm thatch in the jungle. There was the monsoon as pattern for the Deluge, and beyond the veranda chorus of the Ark. But memory and the uncertain mail had to supply me with a model for my heroines: remember this difficulty in their creation . . . Anyways, here it is---your book, bless you."
Go hug your creative cheerleader today. At the very least, throw them a cookie and a "bless you."