My little sister, fourteen years my junior, has called me “Sheep” (sometimes “Sheepy”) since I can remember. She is the most important thing to me in all the world and everything that rolls beyond it. I find it appropriate that she calls me something unique because, even as sisters go, our relationship is something different.
Since she was smaller than I thought people could be, I have been telling her stories. I have created castles and dragons and hairless bears and ghost children all just to see her eyes light up and to hear laughter burst from her like seeds from a dandelion. I have shaped her dreams while she has slept, and I have guarded a fire in her that I hope one day becomes a roaring passion for literature. She, in turn, has told me her own stories and it has been a frightening experience to watch her imagination streak from simple plot lines to complicated story arcs over the years.
When I talk to her, the words “Sheep, tell me a story” inevitably slip from her lips. Half of the time I want to say, “not right now”, but I don’t. There is nothing more beautiful in the world than a child asking you to expand their imagination, to push the limits of their thoughts, and it would be a travesty to deny her such a small thing. The gears and cogs of my brain will start turning as she waits in expectant silence, and eventually, after tossing out countless ideas, I will start. It’s never anything brilliant, and it’s never anything worth writing down, but it’s all the more precious because of that. It’s something that is hers alone. She will never have to share it with anyone but me, and I will never need to share it with anyone but her.
She pushes me to think creatively, to look at everything in words, and to store that information to make a story out of later on. She has, single-handedly, pushed the limits of my own mind by speaking the simple words of “Sheep, tell me a story” over and over and over.
I think it’s important, as writers, to have people like that in our lives. People that rely on our words, that give them meaning and purpose, no matter what story those words might tell. We need people that push us to look at everything around us like it’s the whisper of a story that only needs to be captured and held in ink. Without anyone to give our words to, there’s not much point in writing them.
What or who pushes your writing?