I was writing my novel-which is really what I should be doing now-when I was struck by a thought.
Honestly, the thought has been trying to strike me since last night.
I was listening last night to a TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson about how education kills creativity. (I HIGHLY recommend you watch it. It’s funny and, for us creative types, it really strikes a chord) I’ve included a link to a Youtube version here
Then this morning, I was thinking about one of the children’s books I am planning on writing. I first wrote it when I was probably about eight. It was about 200 pages and I have never gotten it out of my head. It was good for an eight year old. It is good for some adults if you are to judge their writing ability by their Facebook updates.
Then, I was sitting at my computer working on my novel when the two thoughts hit each other and formed:
I think, being a writer, I was very lucky to have the parents I have.
I remember writing my book, “Codename: Agent Six”(that title will change) and most of the time when I wrote it, I wrote it in church. I started it in church, I think. I, maybe, should have been listening to what was being said but I was a kid. What they were saying didn’t really apply to me.
But I knew most of my friends were forced to sit on their hands and watch what was going on even though they likely couldn’t understand the “depth” of what the adults were saying. I was allowed to write.
I was watching a Tom Papa stand-up routine on Netflix the other night and at the end he is talking about how he and his wife don’t go to church but, when their older daughter told them she wanted to go to church, he took her. He recounts the experience and how, because they had never told her the stories of the Resurrection and such, the whole thing seemed kind of like a haunted house to this poor six year old who walks in to the most beautiful building in the neighborhood to see a bloody Jesus hanging from the ceiling.
They had to leave before the service was over because it just kept getting worse (christening, a priest that apparently looked just like Dracula…) and they burst out onto the sidewalk,sat down and looked at each other, and then burst out laughing. And he ended it by saying, “I don’t know what this spiritual thing is we all chase but we were closer to it there on the sidewalk laughing together than in the Haunted House behind us”
Which I guess is the third thing that coalesced to bringing me to the realization that I was lucky, as an artist, to have the parents that I did.
Because, whatever that spiritual thing is that we all chase-atheists, Christians, Bhudists etc…alike-whatever that feeling of contentment and joy and peace that we all want to find, I know I was closer to it, sitting in the pews and working on my books than I would have been sitting still and listening to other people tell me what their peace was.
Kids in school and by parents are so often told when it is appropriate to be an artist. “Don’t play the guitar right now, we are trying to watch TV” “Don’t draw right now, you should be paying attention” “It’s not writing time now, you should be drawing” I don’t draw, by the way. Not even a little bit. My stick figures are wobbly, all right. But I can describe to you a great stick figure if you give me the chance.
I wasn’t told there was a right time and a wrong time to create things. I wasn’t told (by my parents at least) that there was no point in writing or being an artist etc…because I could never get a job as a writer. Society told me that so much that I eventually told myself that until I got tired of not doing things that made me happy because other people said I couldn’t. But my parents, while likely skeptical that writing could be a profession, never told me to stop. They read what I wrote and they helped me write. My mom payed for me to go to a writing conference I couldn’t afford to go to recently.
My mom, when I was probably nine or ten, bought me a book I still own on writing. It has prompts and exercises and all sorts of great writing things. I pull it out now and then and look at the notes I made in it. The book prompted me with an idea I have had in my head since getting that book that I want to write someday. (It’s a Children’s Series called “The Adventures of Taking Out the Trash”) I was encouraged where, I think a lot of potentially great artists, are told to not even bother trying.
This doesn’t have any writing advice or anything particularly important (except the TED talk…seriously…go watch it) I just wanted to write this for my parents and on behalf of all of us artists who were allowed to explore who we were as writers/musicians/painters etc…because of great parents, teachers, friends, siblings that didn’t tell us not to bother.