I had a strange realisation over the weekend. I was drawing with my two year old and I was working hard on a mountain scene straight from The Sound of Music. Of course it ended up looking like a smooch of green, yellow and blue because well, I can’t draw. Anyway, I was working away with the crayons when she pulled the paper out from under me and threw it down the stairs. A little dramatic, it wasn’t that bad. I asked her why she threw it away because I had worked so hard on it.
She replied that we were done with that by wiping her hands together. She gave me another piece of paper and a red crayon and instructed me to draw the moon, stars and the sun. All in red. When I tried to take a blue or a yellow crayon she said, “No. Red moon, Mumma.” At this point I’m thinking she needs an attitude readjustment, but she’s not having a tantrum or trying to be rude, she just sees things differently than I do as an adult. I ask her why I am drawing red stars, moon and sun when they aren’t those colours. She smiled and said “Bubba love red.” So I drew them in red.
I thought about this more later and it dawned on me that as a toddler she had no concept of how things are or even how they ought to be. In her little world things are just because she likes them, without thought that it could be wrong or that people would hate it. Also and perhaps more importantly, when she had decided we were done with something, like my epic Sound of Music drawing, we were done. She wasn’t afraid of being creative and then just getting rid of it. She wasn’t worried that people would judge her for drawing the moon and stars in fire engine red. As far as she was concerned she liked red and that was that. It’s not until we grow up and learn what is acceptable and what’s not acceptable that we start to worry about what people will think of us.
I know that I still struggle with the material I write. Is it good enough? Will people like it? Should I just burn it? Who in the hell would want to read this crap? Oh, people will think I have sex like this if I write it down, eek! This is pretty constant throughout my writing process. First I have the idea. Fantastic! Great! The last idea I had for a fantasy novel, (that I’m working on now) I got on the train to work, while I was editing the last novel I wrote. It’s a completely different genre and feel to the book I was editing, but it just hit me out of nowhere. So I ran with it, loving what I was getting. Then I got half way through the book and I thought- Really? This is what you have wasted all this time on? Then I start editing, I find plot holes, character flaws and general bad fluffy writing, and get even more down.
Hold on. Isn’t this whole creative writing business supposed to be enjoyable? Shouldn’t I enjoy the process of forming something that came from my mind and putting it down on paper? Sharing the story in my head with others. Yes! It should be!
I try very hard to focus on the good moments I have writing, of which there are many and sometimes I actually miss them when they happen. I hand write my stories on the train to and from work. I get two solid hours of writing done a day, then at night I type it up. It works for me, and I hate balancing a laptop on my lap on a crowded train. Some days it feels like I am pulling teeny tiny threads of story out of my head with tweezers, I refer to these days as having ‘case of the tweezers.’ Searching my mind for something, anything that will work in a chapter.
Sometimes I write gibberish for an hour and the next day look at it and wonder what the hell I was thinking? Sometimes I re-read the last couple of pages of the story and launch right in, ideas popping up left, right and center. Spilling out of my imagination quicker than I can write. On occasion so much that I write dot points on the page of the notebook so I remember what I was writing, just in case I have a case of the tweezers the next day. It’s this flow that I love. It makes me excited and happy and content to know that I had a wonderful day of writing. Everything goes better. Mentally, I am awake and challenged and I love it. I do. So when I have a case of the tweezers I remember that I am capable of creating something that I love to read. Even if everyone else might hate it. In that hour of scribbling I am free to create anything and everything I want to. Even if that creation is a moon, stars and sun in fire engine red crayon.
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Photo by suez92 via Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons