Today’s guest post comes from Heather Reid. Heather was a finalist for our Unpubbed Author contributor. We loved her sample, which is graceful and powerful. We were charmed by her whimsy and sense of humor, because, in her own words:
I’m a geeky Texan living in England, married to a Scotsman. Doesn’t that make me unique? Surely there aren’t two geeky Texans living in England, married to a Scotsman. If you can find one, please give them my number. I need a new friend. To which I add… nothing, as this answer has gone on long enough already.
Give a child a bed sheet and they build a tent. They imagine it’s surrounded by trees (a coat rack) and wild animals (the pillows from the sofa). Give a bed sheet to an adult and they fold it and put it away in the closet. As children we are often praised for creativity, encouraged to dream, to draw, to play in a world of fantasy. Creativity isn’t something to think about, read about, or take classes for. It’s something that comes as second nature. So why, as adults, do we talk about creativity as this great quest-an ethereal being we must woo in order to write? When did creativity become so much work?
As we get older, society tells us it’s time to grow up, to stop dreaming, to live in the real world, to fold our creativity up and put it in the closet. We grow up and become aware of rejection, of failure, of judgement, of fear. When I sit down to write, that fear chatters away in the back of my mind. It reminds me that I’m not published yet and that I’ve been rejected by another agent on my list. It whispers that my book might not be on trend or the characters might be too one dimensional. It makes me second guess myself, it chases my creative muse around the room; it steals truth and authenticity from my words. Fear urges me to conform to the world, to see it through jade coloured glasses. But children, children are fearless when it comes to creativity.
My fourteen-year-old niece e-mailed me the first three chapters of her novel last week. Her excitement oozed from every word, she believed in her story, she wrote with passion, and I enjoyed reading it. Is it publishable? Not in the grownup world of agents and editors, but I loved it none the less and was in awe of her accomplishment. Does she care? Her goal wasn’t to find an agent or be a best seller. She was free from the bonds of fear and judgment, free to create a story because it needed to be written. She wrote for the sheer joy of it. I envy her. That envy forced me to examine my own reasons for writing and the reasons why I feel I have to work so hard to woo my muse these days. She unknowingly reminded me of something I’d forgotten. The heart of this ethereal thing adults call creativity isn’t something we can woo. It’s something that resonates within each of us, something that is always there buried in the closet behind the bills, the day job, and dirty dishes.
To find truth in our writing we need to let go of our fear and expectations and get to know our inner child again- the creative child, who searched for fairies in the garden, believed a cardboard rocket ship would really travel to the moon and slept with a four leaf clover under the pillow for luck. It’s time to forget about word counts, agents, the golden ticket of publishing, and to breathe words on the page because that is what we’re called to do. To write for the sheer joy of it.