Friday, January 14, 2011

Down the rabbit hole

Okay, confession: I don't really know what that title means. And I'm not going to look it up. However, in the context of this blog post it means: imagination.

I find that adulthood has really put a crimp in my imaginative ways. I was a child lost in a dream world of my own making, so many stories and characters cropping up that I never minded being alone; in fact, I relished the opportunity to carry on with my stories. There was a lack of imagination (at least to my level) in most of my playmates, so I preferred to share my stories with the characters themselves. It helped that we lived on a street that dead-ended into a wild wood, and that my mom didn't seem to mind if I disappeared into the trees for a few hours. To this day I find myself lost in nostalgia when I pass a wooded area. I also used to lay at the end of my driveway for hours - at least until the ants got me (it is Texas, after all) - watching the stars and telling all my secrets to them. I thought if I could just live among them, dance their sparkling dance, I would discover my true self.

Now, outside of writing, I don't find much room for creativity. It seems to me the older I get and the more I interact with other adults, the passion for creativity has died out of a large part of our population. Things we indulged in so freely as children are now ridiculed or looked down on. What if I want to wear hot pink leggings under a flowery skirt? What if I want to break out in random dance on the street? What if I want to sing at the top of my lungs in my car? What if I want to make a living telling stories about stars and lost princesses and supernatural powers? Sure, I can do these things, but let's not pretend they won't earn me strange glances from the people around me. What's cute in children is considered crazy in adults.

But here's my question today: Why? Why why why? Why does being an adult mean putting away childish things? Why are children the only ones allowed to wander the world in wonder? Why can't I giggle and clap my hands with excitement when I watch a show at a planetarium? Why can't I be fascinated that volcanic stone floats on water (which I STILL am)? Why can't I pretend, if only for a moment, that I secretly hope I'm a fallen star or intergalactic battle hero? Why does imagination as an adult make us weird?

As an unpublished (but hoping to be some day) writer, I have this feeling that people consider you crazy until you reach success with your writing. Then you're a visionary; until then you're a little touched in the head. But the truth is, you've done all the hard work by the time you actually reach success. All of the work that went into your story, all of the imagination and playing that you (if you're like me right now) kept hidden from the rest of your "real world" peoples, all of that happened before the agent. Before the publisher. Before the sales. Before the success. Giving in to imagination has to happen before you can find that success.

So I don't know about you today, but I think I'll dance when I feel like it. Even if it's in the middle of an Outback Steakhouse bathroom (if you don't follow Lisa and Laura Write, you should).


Lydia K said...

It's frustrating that publication is the validation that the world needs to show you're not out of your noggin.
Luckily, we have the writing community to validate us without that. But yeah, I hear you. In my profession, I might get looked at sideways just for having a poem posted in my office.

Melissa Gill said...

I used to feel that way too, but after MANY years as an adult, I realized that sometimes you just have to say (something that I shouldn't type here).

Finding a community of people who understands helps a lot!

So dance in your hot pink tights, and if people don't like it...

Christina Lee said...

I thought of the Nicole Kidman movie (and Alice) when I saw your title. :D

Such great thoughts!

YES to the middle of the bathroom!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Don't loose the magic of imagination. Some day you can pass it to your children. My daughter and I lay in our swimming pool at night last summer and watched teh stars.

Lola Sharp said...

Actually, that title is perfect, for if any book has imagination and uniqueness in spades, it is Alice in Wonderland.

I'm sure you know my thoughts on this matter, but, just in case:
please dance with the stars and wear whatever makes you happy. Please let your inner child play. Please wander the world, wondering, giggling, imagining.

I shall dance and twirl and giggle beside you.