I have an interesting food-for-thought kind of post to share today, and it involves childhood imaginary friends.
(This show used to be the bomb, too.)
So, I had a few imaginary friends when I was a kid. The first I had before I can even remember much of anything, and I only know she once existed because of my (much older) siblings telling my stories about her in today’s age. I may or may not have had another one that I don’t remember, but I do remember at least one very vividly- and her name was Hannah.
Hannah was my imaginary best friend from the time I was about 4 years old to… I think around 7 going on 8. I remember she was a platinum blonde with (probably spray tanned) golden skin, and she always had her hair in a bouncy pony-tail. She was about the same size and age as me, but older by a month.
I remember talking to Hannah and “playing” with her frequently, but only when I was alone. Mostly I would just end up telling her how school went that day and then place a Barbie on the floor in front of her to play with beside me. Sometimes I would talk to her “girl talk” things, like about the guys in my class I thought were cute (haha) and debate with her what color to paint my nails (because, yes, I actually did paint my own nails at age 5… even though my parents always told me not to and probably noticed that I did anyway but didn’t care too awful much about it). The whole time, though, I knew Hannah was never real… and I only ever visualized her in my head; I never hallucinated that she was physically standing right in front of me or anything.
Now, here’s where things are going to get interesting (meaning I’m going to stop talking about myself now, haha)…
“… some psychologists suggest that imaginary companions are much like a fictional character created by an author. As Eileen Kennedy-Moore points out, ‘Adult fiction writers often talk about their characters taking on a life of their own, which may be an analogous process to children’s invisible friends.’ In addition, Marjorie Taylor and colleagues have found that fiction writers are more likely than average to have had imaginary companions as children.” (Taken straight from Wikipedia.)
Well, ain’t that something?
‘Fiction writers are more likely to have had imaginary friends as children.’
I never thought of this before, but could having Hannah as an imaginary friend have actually had something, if anything, to do with me choosing to write fiction nowadays?
I mean, I guess it makes sense it could be correlated, since making up an imaginary friend is, just as Wiki points out, pretty much the same as making up any fictitious character in writing. It’s like practice for future storytelling endeavors without even realizing it.
I feel like all children, though, that play pretend with dolls or stuffed animals or any toys, really, are doing pretty much the same thing- practicing storytelling skills. And… well, all children do that at some point, actually. So, I suppose if you never had an imaginary friend as a child, you weren’t really put behind or set back for a future as a writer… but, it is a little odd that it’s ‘more likely than average’ for authors to have once had an imaginary companion, right?
I think it’d be really interesting to hear more about the connections between fiction writers and their past history with imaginary friends… but, sadly, I can’t find much else on the topic right now.
Let me know though- I’m curious!- did you ever have an imaginary friend as a kid? Especially all the fellow fiction writers- leave a comment below!
And, if you were wondering… Hannah and I’s relationship didn’t just dissolve over time with age… we got in a fight one day because I told her she always asked me too many dumb questions and then she got upset and started yelling back at me so I told her to go away and never come back because I didn’t need her anymore anyway. And then she left, and I never saw her again…
She probably lives at Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends now. Too bad I can’t go visit her.
Until our next wonderfully odd discussion post, though…