My mom encouraged my creativity. She recognized my need to draw. Not my desire to, but my need. I drew constantly—hours and hours scribbling on any piece of paper I could find. Mother kept every envelope and letter that had a blank backside for me to draw on. The top left drawer of our hutch cabinet had paper and the top right drawer had pens and pencils. She called me an artist, and I believed her.
In lower grades I enjoyed writing poems. I knew they had value because I took a poem to school to read for show and tell and one of my classmates stole it! Right from my desk! People only steal things of value, so although I wasn’t happy about the theft, I certainly felt important to have written something good enough to be pilfered.
In high school I wrote an essay for Mr. Rose, my peculiar English teacher. He gave me an A+, a grade I didn’t get very often, and in the margins of the essay, he wrote in red ink, “This is either prose, or drivel!” For whatever reason, I decided he was complimenting me and I knew then and there, I wanted to write. This led me to journalism class, where I learned how to take pictures and write articles, but I frustrated my teacher, as the convergent thinking required in fact-based news articles was far too restrictive for me. I wanted to add my own opinions. I didn’t realize then, but know now, I simply needed to write fiction.
I made up fictional stories and created worlds and scenes since I was little.
Someone gave me a present of paper dolls—pretty girls and boys with little outfits to cut out. I played and enjoyed them, but the true fun was making my own paper dolls and clothes. I became obsessed with finding the perfect piece of cardboard to make the dolls out of. It couldn’t be too thick, but had to be thick enough to hold up. One day I came across a medium blue file divider—just the right weight. I drew and cut out a woman from the blue board and she became the infamous BLUE LADY!
Even as a child I knew every story had to have conflict. It’s one of the first things we learn when we start to write fiction… stories must have tension. No one wants to read a story about the happy people in the happy village. From the Bible, to nursery rhymes, to any movie or TV show you’ve ever watched, you will find conflict. Humpty Dumpty falls off the wall. Little Bo Peep loses her sheep. Little Red Riding Hood must contend with the wolf. And in my paper doll world, The Blue Lady ruined my little people’s days.
Creativity has always been the path I’ve taken. I tried very hard to be a secretary, and a bookkeeper, but I always found myself staring out the windows. But when I could be a photographer, the world opened up for me. When I could promote the Opera House or the community; ideas abounded. And now that I write, I can create worlds and scenes and characters to my hearts content. Maybe you are a lot like me?