Friday, September 24, 2010

Playtime Isn't Over Yet

Last week's post about playing with your words got me thinking about how we often do that in private or in secret.  We rarely show anyone our rough drafts or unedited pieces because we're embarrassed at how "bad" they are.  But are they "bad" or are they really just open and revealing, messy and imperfect?

When we're kids, we're so proud of our crazy drawing of the purple cat with the orange beard!  And so what if the hand turkey we traced somehow looks like it has two thumbs?  It was fun.

Writing can still be like that.   Yes, we want to do our best to make the essay or novel, poem or story as perfect as possible.  After all, an agent or editor is not going to hang that rough draft up on the refrigerator the way Mom or Grandma might.   But confident polished pieces come from quiet play - roughhousing with words, building cities of scenes only to topple them, smashing plot cars into walls.

When I was a kid, I liked to play by myself.  I'd play with my dollhouse for hours.  When Mom would check on me, I'd stop playing and wait for her to leave before I continued.  It was my world, and I wanted to keep it that way.  But eventually, I looked around for someone to play with.  My sister was finally old enough to actually do something besides cry, so I shared my world of exciting ideas and story lines with her. (She might beg to differ on how "exciting" it all was.) 
It's the same with my writing now.  I play alone and I like it, but I also want to share.  When I'm ready.  And, hopefully, my work will be received just as well as all the crazy stuff I threw at my sister.  (She really was a good sport.  Just ask her about the magic shows...)

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