So, my last post was basically forever ago. Wow, I am a terrible blogger… Sorry, everyone.

Anyway, I just had a few musings on childhood. Childhood as compared to writing, of course. They kind of started when I turned 20 about a week ago, and realizing that I’m not a teenager anymore hit harder than I had expected. Then I thought about how we always want to grow up when we’re children, and that after we’re grown, all we wish we could do is go back to the simplicity of childhood. We want naptime, time to color, not have to keep a schedule. Or maybe we want to go back, fix things now that we know how they turn out.

This, I think, might be the draw of writing for me. Growing up, my favorite movie was Peter Pan; I didn’t want to grow up, but continue to have the time and energy to do what I wanted. I wanted to keep the ability to play. With writing, I can. I can color, paint, create, and time doesn’t always need to matter. I can go back and change an action, knowing how it ends. But I also get to discover, learn about a character as if she were a new friend, and I get to play with her anytime I want, because her schedule is the same as mine. I can claim new lands as my own, their inhabitants as my own people. And they love me, even though I do terrible things to them at times. Like my stuffed rabbit. Man, she went through a lot.

Then I got to thinking, when we were children, we didn’t really have a creative filter. If a fairytale princess wanted to go around singing Taylor Swift, she did it. A homeless orphan could engage in a philosophical discussion with a professor. Things could be taken out of context, and it would all seem real to us. Going off on this tangent, it reminds me of a passage I read from Anne Lamott’s book on writing entitled Bird by Bird. Despite some words that I would never use, she has an excellent point. When writing first drafts, it’s okay for them to be completely trash-worthy, because we’re just playing at that point. I’ll just put in her quote to save myself the trouble of trying to say it better than she does:

I feel like at least one of my drafts can relate to this kid. Credit goes to Jamie Francis, who took the picture for the St. Petersburg Times. http://www.sptimes.com/News/090301/State/_The_true_cowboys_.shtml

“The first draft is the child’s draft, where you let it all pour out and then let it romp all over the place, knowing that no one is going to see it and that you can shape it later. You just let this childlike part of you channel whatever voices and visions come through and onto the page…. If the kid wants to get into really sentimental, weepy, emotional territory, you let him. Just get it all down on paper, because there may be something great in those six crazy pages that you would never have gotten to by more rational, grown-up means.”

So tell me: Are your drafts in their terrible twos (like quite a few of mine)? How do you feel when you find that one spark within a child’s draft that could mature into adulthood? And just for the fun of it: Go write a child’s draft. Go play. It’s more fun without a filter. Tell me how it goes! And who knows? You might find something brilliant in there.

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