|Life is about experiences and by extension so is writing.|
I recently read a blog post by Jerry B. Jenkins about his early writing years and his growing boys. Writing was important to him, but he made a commitment that he would never let it get in the way of his family time, which meant between work, his family, and sleep there was only a small window of time in which he could write. At the end of his post he stated, “Writing needs to be a high priority. But for as long as you have a family, writing should never be number one.”
I’m a single gal so I don’t have daily family needs to see to but this past week I was called up for “sick child duty” for someone who had already missed too many days of work and whose daughter was still to sick to go back to her normal caretaker. Taylor is a four-year-old princess who already has an impressive vocabulary and even sick she has too much life in her to take a day lying down.
I’d initially planned to do some extra writing that day, but with Jerry’s words ringing in my ears, I shut my laptop down and engaged in a day of princess movies, games, and coloring. Truth be told, pink and princesses have never really been my thing (my idea of a princess growing up was someone who wore her hair in braids and took on the evil Galactic Empire); however, there was something magical about sitting on the couch under a blanket with Taylor while we watched each film. The highlight of my day, though, was pulling out the paper and markers.
At first we drew our own individual pictures. Taylor’s work of art was an abstract piece she dubbed “The Eyeball” and mine was a tree in the hills that I allowed her to decide what grew on it. She picked a fruit tree that bore apples, oranges, grapes, blueberries, bananas, grapes... Let’s just say it was an incredibly colorful tree. As we discussed our pieces I told her that I thought her picture looked a lot like a Gobdooble, which she immediately wanted to know everything about.
“What’s a Gobdooble?” she asked, to which I answered, “It’s the most amazing doodle in the world and I learned how to draw it when I was your age!” (Don’t ask me where the name came from; I blame my childhood fascination with Roald Dahl and Dr. Seuss.) In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept of a Gobdooble, it’s really quite simple: One simply moves her hand about the page and intercrosses the lines without lifting her pen off the paper until the start and end point are linked together. The more complex the Gobdooble the better! You then fill in all the empty spaces with colors, shapes, and designs. When it comes to Gobdoobles, anything goes!
Taylor and I spent close to an hour talking and coloring our newest masterpiece and during that time I forgot all about being a grownup with grownup responsibilities and deadlines. Instead I found myself enjoying being four again, an age where the world is completely unblemished and filled with all manner of magic. Creativity opens doors, imagination takes you on journeys, and there is no knowing where you’ll end up when all our daily structure gets thrown out the window.
Our Gobdooble now graces my fridge as a reminder that life and writing isn’t all about rules, schedules, and formulas. It’s about allowing your mind to be opened to new possibilities (such as a tree that bears every imaginable fruit on the planet plus some or finding a gem of truth in a story about a pink-clad dancing princess). Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.” It’s one of my favorite writer’s quotes and is taped to my desk, pinned to my peg board, and even appears in the About Me section of my personal Facebook page.
Life is about experiences and by extension so is writing. How can you tell the story of someone’s journey of self-discovery if you fail to embark on one of your own? And how can you learn anything of importance if you don’t stop to enjoy precious little moments as they present themselves?
Thank goodness I had a sick little princess, a stack of blank paper, and a handful of markers to show me once again just how right Thoreau and Jerry are: “Writing needs to be a high priority. But…writing should never be number one.”