Saturday, January 19, 2008

It's All Creative Force

I still write. Sometimes I write a lot, sometimes very little. I feel thwarted, blocked and uninspired often. I feel the need to update nagging at me even more often.

Writing comes from some unseen creative force that moves me, I want to but cannot push my creativity through my own force. But what I realize, is that if one avenue is blocked, another allows it through.

I have always enjoyed creating things although I do not consider myself a "crafty" person. The desire to create may be inherited. My mother was a creative person who drew and wrote; my father was a carpenter, constructing visions with his hands. My earliest inclinations followed both these paths.

For instance, I wanted to learn to knit for both creative and practical reasons. I could make clothes for my dolls, hats and mittens and afghans for myself. I employed my older sister in the position of instructor, as she was already proficient in the art of knitting. This, however, had disaster written all over it. My sister is left-handed, I am right hand dominant. As she taught me, I had to envision everything as the other way round, practice taking what I observed as if it were a mirror image. I still haven't got the hang of mirrors, which is why I don't use a curling iron - I simply can't make my mind join the command of my brain to go one way with that hand in the mirror going the opposite way. I soon abandoned her tutelage.

Eventually, I did learn to knit, but I did it through a set of books that I now consider the greatest resource of my childhood, The Book of Knowledge. Full of everything from world history to fairy tales to how to build a birdhouse, The Book of Knowledge taught me anything I desired to know.

I dismissed any backwards practices I had learned from my sister and started by very carefully following the instructions and illustrations provided by the book. I remember how disappointing it was to find my lovely knitted square was a bit more oblong that it ought to be, but through practice and patience my skills improved.

Learning to knit was a great boon for me as a young girl, for I branched out and learned the art of circular needles, knitting, purling and changing colors. For Christmas I was able to present each of my friends and family with a handmade pair of mittens.

I don't knit anymore, my hands won't hold the needles long enough or grip them tightly enough these days. But learning to knit enriched my life in many ways beyond the simple joy of a completed project. It taught me that creativity takes many forms and must be allowed to come forth, in any medium that it chooses.

Sunday, January 6, 2008


Christmas is past, and if I may say so, it went off with a bang. And a whistle. And some humming, and some loud music, some crashes, some booms and some alien laser-fire. But enough about the toys my kids got.

I received my most technologically advanced gift when I was just 7 years old - a baby Thumbelina. Thumbelina wasn't a mere doll that lay lifeless and still in your arms. She writhed and squirmed like a real baby, and so enchanted was I that she quickly became the entire focus of my life. My grandmother, whose generation had never seen the like of such toys, could not believe that a doll could seem so alive. I am not sure that she is so beloved in my memory because of her amazing talents, or if it was because her life was to be so short. Snatched from my arms by a neighborhood dog, her brief existence ended in shreds and tatters.

Compared to the toys that my daughter has owned, dolls that coo, walk, talk, eat, and must be potty-trained, Thumbelina was not a technological wonder. I think I loved her more though, than my daughter did any of her dolls which were endowed with more human qualities. Toys of today require so much less imagination of our children, and that is a mistake. Imagination is the greatest gift our children possess and it should be cultivated and nurtured. Toys that do everything appeal to them, and they clamor for them, but watch what happens when they actually get them. The more bells and whistles the toy possesses, the more quickly it is discarded for other pursuits, such as making a car out of the cardboard box the toy came in.

My son received video games, a realistic plug 'n play car steering wheel with racing games on board, and a host of other toys that beep and flash to music and sound effects. He has spent the day instead crafting two swords complete with scabbards, pirate hats and a world of knights, kings and dragons - equipped with nothing more than a block of construction paper, a pair of scissors, a roll of tape and his imagination. What he has fashioned from his own creativity has completely replaced all other toys in his inventory.

It would be impossible to put empty cardboard boxes and scissors and tape under the Christmas tree. They would be spurned, the children would view them as the equivalent of coal in their stockings. The bangs and whistles and bells and booms must be tied up in ribbons and left by a loving Santa who will understand when they are forgotten and replaced by a child's imagination.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Branching Out

I've done something a little different, or at least different for me. I joined Helium, which is a writing community which enjoys a fairly wide readership. There may be pros and cons for me, one con of course is that since articles are rated on Helium as to style, content and popularity, it has the great potential of becoming a personal inadequacy crisis. But I suppose that if you can't stand the blue pencil, stay out of the editor's office.

I have just recently discovered that it is allowable to cross-post articles, that is, I can post them on my blogs and on Helium which made me give out a small sigh of relief. It can be hard to decide which place to post an article, whichever I choose, I would lose some hard work that could be put to use.

I haven't been a member long enough to decide if Helium is something I will stay with for a long time (I have only posted four articles so far) but I am going to give it some time to see how I like it. I may even have one or two articles that I will post here as well, and I may designate them as such (although I doubt that I have to do so).