Monday, February 6, 2012
What your childhood play says about your writing
We knew this inherently as kids. My high school English teacher used to say, "Creativity does not happen in isolation." It's true. Playing is just not as much fun when you're alone. We think of emotion and personality as coming from the inside, but we miss out on so much when we leave it at that. We are not isolated beings, and creativity is not a self-sufficient resource. We are a direct part of our environment, and it is our interactions with that environment which help mold us. That environment is constantly changing, and so is our relationship with it. But I don't think we so much change as see ourselves from different angles.
That is what play is all about. Seeing ourselves, individually and collectively, from different angles. And as I've grown up I've discovered that the best toys are words. There is also music and paint and dance and, in the theatrical sense of the word play, pretending to be someone else. But inhabiting someone else's existence using these toys and this play isn't so much us being in someone else's shoes as it is showing us the true shape and size of our own. This is why, to me, art is as necessary to life as food and air. This is why we must play.
As a kid, my cousin and I used to take my grandmothers gold-framed mirrors into the bathroom, pretending the shower was our enchanted castle, and ask the mirrors to show us where our princes were. Whereupon we ventured forth to save our true loves. Now, the obvious interpretation of this would be that I am a born feminist, someone who likes to hold the reins. I used to think that, but I've since re-contextualized. While I am a feminist of sorts, and equate sexism with idiocy, I'm still not really a ride my own horse kind of girl. I want to be swept off my feet and taken care of in a damsel-in-distress sort of way. The thing is, I just want them to need me as much as I need them.
This is why, I think, my favorite characters have always been pining men. Severus Snape, Ben Linus, Niles Crane, Mr. Darcy, Dr. House. Men who to some extent appear to have things under control, appear to carry the power, when really they are the ones desperately in need of saving. Their role as "big strong man" is as much for their sake, if not much more so, than for the sake of their "damsel". What kind of needed is deeper than being needed by someone strong enough to sweep you off your feet?
What games did you play as a child? What roles did you perform? And what does that say about your adult self and your writing?
And guys? Don't forget to play.