Friday, November 23

Limejuice Creativity

She stared at the blank, white page.  As she urgently rifled through her thoughts, hoping to fill the page within the next hour, she was skeptical that she could.  Her ideas were little black ants, scurrying, nipping the backs of her hands.
            She had only just had her hair dyed orange.  She asked for the colour of Ron Weasley’s hair, but instead, it was very bright, and still dark at the ends, which was unfortunately nothing like Ron’s.  She did like it, however.  She wasn’t sure whether she still looked like herself, though, especially since she had to keep peeking into mirrors or shop window reflections to remind herself that she was no longer a brunette.  The canny, chemical smell made her even more excited to shampoo it, but the hairdresser had instructed her against this until a few days had gone by, in order to allow the colour to “set in”.  She had imagined how chirpy and cheery it would look against all her blue and green clothes, but as yet, it only managed to achieve a semi-rock-goth appearance against her vibrant clothes.  She hoped that this would change after she washed it.
            A few days ago, she had started researching publishers.  She had completed her first novel, only a month ago.  Reading made her belittle her ability, as she couldn’t refrain from constantly comparing it to this or that great author.  But her mother urged her to trust in her talent.  She knew deep inside, however much she fretted and one-sidedly argued her inadequacies, that everything that she did would help her to grow – that she was continuously growing as she fed more and more into her writing with every word she wrote.
             And she wasn’t a bad writer.  She just wasn’t published yet.  She just felt too young and too new to it all to be anything particularly exciting.  She thought a lot and enthused, (or did she complain?) to her mother about how beautifully Harry Potter was written, and how J.K. Rowling was a genius of children’s literature because she did everything right: she wrote stories that were loved by both parents and children; she created places that appealed to every imagination; wrote characters that anyone could empathise with and relate to; and coated it all with generally beautiful writing.
            She was frustrated by her inability to come up with good storylines.  Her last storyline, she felt, was extremely limited.  She wasn’t unsatisfied with it, as such, because it worked in that context.  It didn’t need to be bigger or better than it was.  But she was concerned that she wouldn’t be able to make a bigger or better storyline when she needed to.  She felt that if her creativity was a big juicy lime, she was squeezing her plot from it with her hand.  But once she had sapped her strength and juiced it as much as she was able, there was still only a little trickle of limejuice in her glass, and so much juicy pulp left which she just wasn’t strong enough to squeeeeeze out.    A huge, multi-faceted, exciting plot like Harry Potter, she didn’t think she was capable of imagining from scratch.  Her last plot, as appropriate as it was, really had no action, no big conflict, no danger.
            She wondered, after all her pondering, what she would end up actually doing. 

Copyright © 2012 by Paige E. Hadley.  All rights reserved.
No part of this work may be reproduced without prior permission of the copyright owner. 

Monday, November 19

The Power of Storytelling

I had the revelation after finishing my first book, that I can tell a story.  Now for me, this does not consist of merely entertaining readers, but of painting times, places and people from every century of history, putting them into perspective for a person sitting quietly at home, and blow that person's expectations, understanding and opinions out of the water.  

It means to be able to affect people.  The reading that you do as a child especially, shapes and moulds you into the person you grow to become, by giving you experiences and insight, friends and hardships.  As a storyteller, you have the ability to provide this learning.  Storytellers have the ability to say a thing, however small or large, however distressing or thought-provoking, that will be heard by many, but for which they cannot be persecuted.  

Not only does the story act as a shield against controversy, but the story is a vehicle for ultimate truth.  The fact is that when you hear a story, your mind does not necessarily pick out the point straight away, but might instead require moments of reflection to understand.  Metaphors, allegories, similes make things so much easier to understand, and easier to accept.  My dad visited a gallery of modern art recently, during a postmodernism exhibition.  One piece was a film in which three baby bird sock-puppets chatted with child voices about the sad event of losing their home tree to urbanisation.  Half way through the film, the audience realised suddenly that these sweet little birds that they were so content to watch in fact used the voices of children of the Stolen Generations to speak.  These voices - these truths - were taken from something entirely different and given different personas, a new story, to which an audience had a greater ability to listen.  They were not confronted with emotionally-charged accounts of horrific events, but instead listened with empathy and connection to baby birds.  Once they understood what the story was really about, they were able to now look upon the real children of the Stolen Generations with real understanding, and see them as precious, innocent, fragile young children.  

Storytelling has unrivalled power to say what cannot be said plainly - to make clearer the parts of tangled issues - to provoke every reader to observe and reflect on things they never considered before - to help each reader connect to people from whom they are divided by time and space, as well as those closest to them.  

Monday, November 5

Yes No Maybe

I am notorious for becoming suddenly passionate about a thing, going all out on it, and then losing interest.  Well, maybe not notorious exactly, for I have actually stuck to a good many things too: my cello and my (finished) book.  But when all of a sudden I realised that I would really like to own my own typewriter... I doubted myself at the same time as becoming hugely excited. 

I've always been one of those people who are annoyingly stubborn about something small and often sentimental, and then change their mind when they realise that the new way is actually better.  (Things like books, however, nothing in the world could make me read e-books.  That's not negotiable now or ever.)  However, this propensity of mine makes me wonder whether or not writing on a typewriter would be a good idea or not. 

I've found that since I've started typing my work rather than handwriting it, I have had a much better flow and control of my writing and creativity.  Sometimes I've felt that by the time my hand has finished slogging away at that sentence with that scratchy pencil, my mind has been swept too far ahead and has gone and run itself aground.  Typing has allowed me to keep up with my thought process, and also to make spontaneous decisions and changes to what I've already written.  In most contexts, my typed writing has been better than my hand-written.

However, this leads me to wonder what the effect of type-writing would be on my work.  I am very aware of the personality a typewriter has - I remember long ago my Dad quoted someone, which I automatically believed to be C.S. Lewis but probably wasn't, about the connection they formed with their typewriter, as if it was a very sweet, trotting pony whose peculiar gait he had become so fond of.  I like to harbour the idea that a typewriter would be good for my creativity, that I too would find a lovable, ambling pony within that machine, and that he and I would canter into some great adventures, each step of which would be marked by the hoofbeat of a typed letter and a ding of a chombing bit between pony teeth as we reached the end of a line.  Would it give me more freedom to play with visual literacy?  Would it give me a medium for greater connection with my writing?  Would it force me to accept what I had written, and edit later as all the writers tell you over and over that you should do? 

I don't know.  For me, the obvious answer is to give it a go.  But should I fan this passion?  Type first, edit on a computer afterwards?  Yes!  No.  Maybe...