Over the holidays visiting with family at the family homestead, observing the youngest young-ins, grandnieces and grandnephews, nieces and nephews, I noticed one toy received more attention and held them enthralled longer than any other toy. It's a simple wooden toy, a hammer and peg game. Eight colorful wooden pegs in a wooden peg bench. Tap all the pegs through on one side, turn it over, tap 'em through again, again and again.
Situating inside their meaning spaces, trying to unravel their fascinations, I was transported back to my childhood make believe games. Like an epiphany, but an anti-insight, like, a return to the beginning of my urge to write, to invent situations and worlds that suited my frame of mind and filled my pastimes.
I've rediscovered how storycraft is make believe. I don't know where I stand on this yet. I'm still processing. Depressed that it's taken most of my life to circle back to the origins, thrilled that there's a new avenue for me to approach the craft, excited to apply it to my writing and reading, of little, if any, import, or just an interesting perspective. At least I'm comfortable appreciating that, for all my seriousness, there's still play and fun in make believe as it pertains to storycraft. And what a joy to rediscover make believe. What a Christmas gift.
[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited December 30, 2009).]
Thanks for providing that complimentary perspective. It was good for me to remember that my lifelong fascination with stories is rooted in how much fun they were when I was little. The first book I remember having was Where the Wild Thing are, and as the pages turned and Max's room bit-by-bit transformed into a forest, my imagination sang.
The connection to "make believe" is significant, perhaps profound, as often that type of play consists of creating and acting out a story, or at least it did among me and my friends (we predated even cable television, and had to work at keeping ourselves amused). Both often have some anchor in the "real" world and grow from there. In play we explored possibilities for the pure enjoyment of it. It would be good for my writing to keep that same goal in mind. I set out to create "entertaining" stories but it's easy for that to get lost in the mechanics and craftsmanship and philosophy of the process.
Perhaps with the trigger of your insight I can try to get back into that child's make believe perspective and do a better job of it. Or better yet, have more fun with it.
I was glad to hear this as well. I think we could use to see a lot more thoughts of this kind around here. I some times think folks get a little to wrapped up in the "business end" and forget what storytelling is and why we...or many of us anyway...do it in the first place.
That sense of simple wonder is important...more important perhaps, in many cases, than anything.
Ahhh, your story sure stirred up warm memories of childhood for me. The 60's was a great time for a child growing up in the U.S. My family didn't have a whole lot of money, and back then TV (with vacuum tubes. That was even before transisters!) was the main form of entertainment with just 3 channels to choose from. Most playtime with my friends (I was an only child) was making up stories and acting them out. Most of the time, we just made it up as we went along, never knowing what the results would be.
My parents got me reading early in life. Mom got me my first library card before I knew how to read. I can't imagine life without a book around to read. I'd be totally lost even with all the electronic alternatives available today. We even used art to create stories and would spend hours drawing at the kitchen table with nothing more than a package of colored construction paper and a box of Crayola crayons. We'd draw pictures and then make up stories about them.
Remember the Matchbox cars from back then? More chances to act out stories.
Now that I think about it, most of my childhood involved imaginative stories. And then I got a chance to try out a typewriter for the first time. Sure beat writing stories out by hand like I did for English class at school. Then I started reading them to my half-brothers (I didn't lie. I was the only child born to both my Mom and Dad. They both remarried and had other kids .), and they loved them. And that's what started me to writing stories with thoughts of writing a book.
Imagination is the greatest gift any child can have, and it scares me to think of all the things they have available today that do it for them. It did my heart good to read your post, extrinsic, and know that imagination is still alive and thriving in our young people .
I patticipated in a lot of make believe in my play with my brothers and sisters, but I also told myself stories at night after I'd gone to bed.
I am a night person (something morning people tend to not believe in), and I could not go to sleep as soon as my head hit the pillow (as my father could since he was a morning person). So I had to be very quiet as I lay there wide awake in the dark or my father would come and scold me. He always said, "Turn over and go to sleep," as if it were that easy.
I think those stories I told myself saved my sanity. They certainly strengthened my imagination.
(Now I go to bed when I'm ready to go to bed, and I do tend to fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow--it just happens a lot later at night.)
One of my favorite childhood pastimes was taking my toys apart to see how they worked. Mom and them didn't like it, but they were my toys to play with how I wanted, the way I saw it. Mom couldn't deny that logic. They rarely went back together again on the first try. Try, try again, they never were quite right again. I didn't like it when Mom threw them away because they didn't work anymore. I got better as I grew older. Now the toys I take apart to see how they work are stories. They work better after I've taken them apart.
My tools, I know how they work. I only take them apart to fix 'em. I've got the first circular saw I ever bought still working decades later. The first power drill burned up the motor windings last year. I took it apart to see if I could fix it, but the insulation had melted too extensively. The power cord is now on another tool. I also salvaged the chuck and use it on another drill. My writing tools don't burn up or wear out no matter how much I use them or tax their limits.
[This message has been edited by extrinsic (edited January 01, 2010).]
I guess 'Mom and them' (meaning those who represent authority-- grudgingly acknowledged or otherwise -- publishers, editors, readers etc) can still 'throw them out' regardless of whether you like them or not.
You may have rediscovered the joy of playing for its own wonderful, creative sake.
[This message has been edited by Andrew_McGown (edited January 02, 2010).]
When I was a kid, any piece of electronic gear---say, a transistor radio---lasted only a few months before getting busted. Since late adolesence, most of my stuff has lasted years, and the bulk of it is still working, if abandoned. In 1980 I acquired a twelve-inch Sears color TV (UHF and VHF tuned with knobs)---which was still working when I replaced it with a larger TV (cable ready with remote) in 2005. (The technological obsolence of broadcast digital TV only came last year.)
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