Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Come and Play

Hey! We held a sneaky book give away contest in September. Kristen Torres-Toro is the winner of a fresh off the presses copy of Debbie Fuller Thomas' Raising Rain! Drop us a line at novelmatters@gmail.com with your snail mailaddress, Kristen.

This month we are giving away a copy of Patti Hill's latest, Seeing Things. How do you enter to win? Simply leave a comment. It's that easy.

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Patti pointed the way on Monday when she referred to an incident in her childhood where her imagination took her to places her Mother would rather they didn't. Ah, the logic of childhood. Remember the freedom you had to play, to become someone else, to transform the landscape (a backyard, living room, bed room, wherever) into a wild raging river, or jungle? Wasn't it grand? When did we stop doing that?

Rather - why did we stop doing that?

I know the bible passage too - 1 Corinthians 13:11 - "When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me." It makes bags of sense, to move out of childhood, into adulthood, leaving childish ways behind us. But where did we get the idea that the application of wild imaginations is childish? Just because it is employed in childhood, doesn’t mean it should be equated with childishness.

As children we used our imaginations to create new worlds – tiny ones, small enough for Barbie and her friends to inhabit, huge ones where all our neighbourhood friends could come and join in. As we imagined and created, we were learning – teaching ourselves the value of things like logical outcomes, fair play, justice, rules, inclusion. We were also fashioning our personal likes and dislikes, giving voice to our true hopes and dreams. We took reality and stretched it to it furthest limits and back again. We were having fun – but we were accomplishing so much more. We were learning how to live in the world by using our imaginations.

As adults, we would do well to remember the imagination of childhood.

I teach seminars based on my non-fiction book, Your Best You. It’s about finding your strengths and using them in all areas of your life. One of my strengths is daydreaming. Another is pretending. I love to daydream. In my daydreams, I’m the star of my own show and nothing happens without my say so. I have lots of fun in my daydreams – but they are more than goofing off. In my daydreams I am working out problems, rehearsing for conversations I’m nervous about, practicing for radio interviews, working out how I feel about a certain topic or issue. I’m having a lovely time, but I’m getting in touch with my real self and exploring a sometimes difficult world from a safe place.

In my pretending and daydreaming, I’m also giving full voice to my creative self. The controls of grown-up rules are less stridently applied. The world of “what if” opens at my feet and I’m free to follow the rabbit trails without fear of “making a mistake” or “getting it wrong”. There is no wrong in the realm of imagination. There is only discovery.

Pretending strengthens my faith too. Anyone who has written a novel can tell you, stories take faith. Writing without a net is the only way to go. Ray Bradbury said it perfectly when he admonished writers to “jump off the cliff and build your wings on the way down”. That is the faith of imagination – knowing with all your heart that when you jump off the cliff, you will, at some point, begin to soar. When I am thinking about a story idea, I spend lots of time thinking about what could go wrong for my characters – what challenges they will face. I never bother to think about how I will get them out of trouble. Pretending has taught me that my characters will find their own way out.

The imagination is a wild place – filled with untamed ideas. But it is not childish. It is a place the storyteller feels at home. It is the place where anything can happen – and should. Let’s embrace our forgotten creativity of childhood and bring it into our lives today. Let’s dance in our underwear, sing a song we just made up, giggle at our thoughts, mentally rearrange our landscape, create places only we know how to get to. Let’s give ourselves full, unbridled permission to play, imagine, daydream, pretend, and scribble on the walls of life.

14 comments:

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

WOOHHHHOOOO!!! I clicked over, saw my name, and almost fell out of my chair. THANK YOU! Y'all definitely made my day!

I love that: "There is no wrong in the realm of imagination. There is only discovery." Beautiful. And so true.

I'm reminded right now of "Finding Neverland", of the incredible stories Barrie told that few other than children paid attention to at first. Everytime I see Johnny Depp dancing with the dog (which is really bear), I'm encouraged to imagine!

Sharon K. Souza said...

Congratulations, Kristen. You'll love Raising Rain. And "Finding Neverland!" That's one of my very favorite movies!! Doesn't hurt that Johnny Depp's in it, either. I have a feeling I'll be watching it again before long.

Karen Schravemade said...

Beautiful post, Bonnie.

Bonnie Grove said...

Congrats Kristen! I'm excited for you. It's a wonderful book!

Love Johnny Depp and all his high strangeness. Thanks for the heads up.

Karen: Thank you so much.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Yay, Kristen! Hope you like it.
Finding Neverland is a wonderful movie. It doesn't hurt that Johnny Depp wears a tuxedo, either.

Sharon K. Souza said...

Let's face it, girls. It doesn't hurt that Johnny Depp ... period.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

I think we should add 'Johnny Depp' to the labels for this post. Sorry, Bonnie, we kind of got distracted...

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

Ha! Yebo for Johnny Depp!

And yebo for great books! Have a great night!

Nicole said...

No one like Johnny Depp. Love. Him. All he needs is Jesus. Sigh.

Lori Benton said...

Ya'll have given me the first belly laugh of the day. Johnny Depp is indeed distracting. :-)

And I've appreciated these posts this week. I linked back to Patti's from my own blog, because, well, I need to be reminded (though I know it) until I am established in the fact that for my first draft I MUST shush that inner editor who keeps saying, "But you CAN'T do that!"

Patti Hill said...

Bonnie, I could kiss you. Jumping off a cliff is exactly what I need to do. My character must face her ultimate challenge, but I've been too busy thinking about how she will get out of it.

I'm inching toward the edge...closer...tummy is flip-flopping...knees bent...I'm leaning, leaning...woohoo, I'm off! Oh my,must think wings.

Thanks for a great post, Bonnie love.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed reading the comments.
I always played "Let's Pretend" when I was little and had sooooo much fun.
As a teacher, I see very little use of imagnation in my students. Tthey grew up"being entertained" and not having to think of things. In my nieces I see them not playing with little girl toys but being entertained by the TV or going to Sea World or other events. And they have very little down-time-they are alawys going, going someplace. I think we will have a whole generation that will not be challenged with their own abilities and imagination. Sad.

Steve G said...

I think Depp is a bit of an odd duck, if you ask me... a Depp duck if you will. And speaking of growing up... I mean, didn't Bradbury also say you need to throw up every morning? Maybe he was a bit of an odd duck too.

I think this is a wonderful post, Bon. We need to be reminded to loosen up. I see so many uptight people in churches, including pastors. There are so many concerns these days. Novelists - take me on a journey to places I have never been and never thought of. It'll do us all a world of good.

This is also a challenge to authors - Don't you enjoy what you're doing< or is it just a job? Have fun for you have a unique calling with unending horizons. God called you to a joyful abundant life, inspite of everything.

Kathleen Popa said...

Oh, but I love odd ducks. Just look around my life.

I checked in to see what deep thoughts everyone was having today, and what do I see? "Oh, Johnny Depp, Oh drool, Johnny Depp."

I think you've all lightened up just fine.

I can dance in my underwear??