Cartographers of the Imagination

2 May

As part of the Austin Public Library Friends Foundation’s annual New Fiction Confab, we invite our visiting authors to lead writing workshops in Austin Public Library branches. This year, Fiona Maazel, author of the novel Woke Up Lonely and Last Last Chance, volunteered to lead 25 elementary school writers through an exploration of imaginary landscapes and characters. Together, young writers became cartographers, creating fantastical countries and islands and villages, then turned their sights on a single character, unearthing his or her experience of a remarkable world.

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One writer, Jessy, shared this story with us, and we are honored to share it with you. Apparently equipped to write her own version of Woke Up Lonely, Jessy writes of a character deeply isolated but looking for hope. (Below: Jessy reads her story to Fiona and her fellow writers.)

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Deciders of Fate

I knew from the time I was born that the Deciders of Fate had chosen for me to be eternally alone. I have been alone for six years now.

I was six years old when Meme and Pepe died. Now I am twelve and alone. I haven’t seen anyone in six years; I haven’t talked for six years. I am not even sure I can anymore.

All I’ve done for six years is try to survive, try to keep food on the table, keep my fire running. I have never seen civilization. I have lived on the glacier all my life. I have forgotten my parents’ voices—and my own. All I had ever known before they died is forgotten. But I don’t want to remember, even now that I’m older.

I never really think of Meme and Pepe, except on the nights I lie sleepless in my bed. I knew Meme and Pepe kept a map of Gravytown. I had never looked at it, never needed to, but when I felt my will to live suddenly stop, I took the map off the shelf where it sat for years. I rolled it out on the map table.

Before I looked at it, I wondered, Did I have enough daring to go somewhere else? I decided that yes, I did have the courage to go somewhere else, even if it meant burying all my old memories.

I looked at the map, and my eyes were immediately drawn to the mountains.

Jessy
3rd grade, Paragon Primary School

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