If You Want to Write: Part Two

Continuing on from Part One…

Kids. Children. Younglings. Humospawn.

We know them by many names.

Sweet huffers. Milk drinkers. Eye Pokers.

You know what’s good about today’s section of this book? It reminds me of Keith Johnstone’s book Impro, specifically the introduction about schooling. I sincerely believe that our school system is the remnants of an inherited system that doesn’t really prepare us for the world we live in. We can do our best with it, but a lot of learning is personal and internal, it has nothing to do with exams.

“[Children] have tremendous concentration because they have no other concern than to be interested in things” (Loc 388)

I think we lose a lot on the way to adulthood, or rather we get caught up in other things and forget what we have. It’s true we can’t go back and live carefree like kids because we need to support ourselves as adults, but I think we can shuck off a lot of unnecessary worries when creating.

Kids don’t worry about being clever. When I was 8, I wrote stories and ran around the playground pretending to possess the Glaive from the 1983 British-American heroic fantasy-science fiction film Krull. I didn’t care if my portrayal of a heroic king dude was accurate or entertaining, I just did it because I loved that film. It awoke something in me. Something was already there, I watched and absorbed the film through rapt eyes and ears, and something new came out of me. I made up little counters of the characters and tried to create some kind of game using the football lines on the playground.

I have no idea how that game works or if I ever finished it those 16 years ago, but I can totally see the little paper counters with pencil drawings of the Glaive and the bad guy on it. It’s real, it’s in my head. I made it, I don’t know why I made it, I had to. I had to do something. I had to write stories, I had to create.

And that is why I improvise, because I have to. I have to create. I take feedback and think about the audience and always practice listening when people tell me what they like about my performance, but the big secret is that I don’t measure myself by it. I’m creating, I’m playing.

When I started I was caught up in the social web of appearances and I didn’t want to look incompetent or boring, then I learned to think more like a kid. To be vulnerable and confused and also excited and malleable. I think imagination is actually quiet and humble, and more like a monkey splashing a pool to see the ripples than somebody talking really fast to show off ideas.

The chapted heading I want to mention is this one:

Chapter Five: Sooner Strangle an Infant in Its Cradle Than Nurse Unacted Desires

It’s a good way to describe standing on the side knowing you need to come in but not coming in. It feels worse to sit there not doing anything than it does to jump in and go for it. Takes a while to get past that stage though.

This is a longer quote and its actually from the footnotes of that chapter. It sums up how I feel about telling stories and how I try to approach them. I want to be changed and discover newness as I do something, not try and hit all the stages mechanically.

“Most talking is merely narrative, memory, which is not creative imagination… In conversation you tell something done or thought or said yesterday. It is living in the past, not the present. But when talk is truly interesting , then one is living in the present. A change is taking place in the conversers. One tells the other something that he needs or longs to hear, or that frightens him. That is, it effects a change in him.”  -(Loc 498)

I want to practice being open to the moment and not showing what I know.


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