Growing up with Hayden, we were frequently outside and where other kids would play football, baseball, or ride bikes, we would make up stories. We were often knights, dragon riders, mages, cultivators and eradicators of the dark forces that resided in the woods behind our very house. We were actors before I knew that the people on my TV weren’t real, warriors before I could comprehend death, and writers before I could even spell. At home, my brother's face was always in a book or playing a video game. He surrounded himself in the worlds of Tolkien, Lewis, and Paolini. It seemed like every day he was in a new book, embarking upon a new tale, engrossing himself in a new storytelling experience. Just as he did this, so too, did he surround me in worlds reminiscent of the ones he read in books. Except he was original about it. Hayden would make up stories that were unlike any I have other experienced, and he was also consistent where every morning in the summer we would go out and continue where we left off the previous day. From an early age my brother instilled a need to create, a lust for originality, and a tendency to daydream in me. These are three things that have stayed with me to present day.

This experience showed me numerous things. First, I began to see imagination and potential in everything. Some might see a stick, Hayden and I saw a sword, a tree stump was a throne, the lawn was a battlefield, and rocks were runes or sacred stones. Everything nature had given to us could be used in someway to contribute to that specific narrative we were telling at the time. In the same token; we tended to shy away from anything that was not either made of wood or was not within the natural environment that was our playground. The house was non-existent, neither were cars or television. Our focus was on God’s creation and what we could do with it.

Improvisation was crucial too. Tape wrapped around a stick became the hilt for our swords or staffs. Smaller twigs were the foundation for crossguards. When our weapons or other various apparatus would break, it became part of the story and served as turning points or demonstrations of characters coup de gras’.

After a while I got the hang of it and emulated my brothers storytelling alone when he was at school or at a friend’s. I began to contribute to the stories we were both telling and participating in, and this is where I believe my love for writing comes from. I wanted to share with my brother what I had made, I wanted him to be proud, and most importantly I wanted to stand back in the end and observe what I had created.

Looking back, I will always cherish those times for the effect I had on me. The reason I love writing fiction and want to continue is because of the time we spent creating stories, the reason I love the outdoors is because of the copious amount of time I spent outdoors with my brother traveling and talking, I love acting because I loved playing parts outside of 21st century I grew up in, I feel drawn to stories such as Bridge to Terabithia, Chronicles of Narnia, and Pan’s Labyrinth because they in some way have the same sense of awe, wonderment, and imagination I felt as a child, and lastly, I feel it is a big reason to why Hayden and I are so close. I consider him my best friend not only because he is my brother and we were forced into a lot of situations together and we just happen to get along, but he gave me this sense to create, tell stories, and utilize what I observe. These are all things in which I live by.