Last Sunday, my grand
monster son stayed in with my Sunday School class of 7th through 9th graders. The boy (4) was a zombie until his papaw walked out. (that zombie thing was what convinced me to let him stay.). No sooner does the door close and the show begins. Of course, a room full of Jr. High boys and a 4 year old, what did I expect? The big boys would set him up, and he would be off, having no ‘off’ button and no idea where the line is that says “too far.” But this post isn’t about boys getting rowdy. It is about a little boy who taught me a lesson.
Ah, a glue stick!
For a few minutes during the class, Roland was coloring. After coloring, he noticed a glue stick. He said, “Oh, a glue stick! I can use one of these!” He takes the glue stick and runs it on the back of the paper and then goes over and glues it to the door of the classroom. He was so proud of himself! I left it there for a bit (knowing it would come off just fine), but when class was over, I had to take it down. Roland did not understand why you don’t glue paper to a wall/door. I allowed him to place it on a board instead and all was well.
While the picture was on the wall, Gram and Imma had a bit of a tiff. Gram was all for immediately yanking the paper off the wall and disciplining the little bugger for “ruining” the door. Imma was all for letting it go (forever) and just enjoying the chaos. Gram got her way to a degree, but Imma was able to temper her a bit. Often this is a good thing. We want to go off half-cocked on the one hand and need a cool head to keep us from the worst excesses. Other times, we want to over-react and wind up hurting others. Then we need someone to keep us from acting on our initial instinct.
Imma, the free-spirit, right-brained, uber-creative one, is the one who would use a glue stick to put a picture on the wall. She doesn’t do this to make Gram mad, although it often has that effect. She does it because it works. She is able to take an object and use it in unique ways. When it comes to writing, she is not always trapped in the all-or-nothing thinking of others. She appreciates grammar, but it is not her master. She sees ways to use words that is creative and not always what one would expect. She has the innocence necessary to try new things. If it fails, she tries something else.
Gram, the left-brained, analytical, practical one, is the one who would never use a glue stick to put a picture on the wall. She is a ‘by-the-book’, ‘follow-the-rules’ kind of gal. Glue sticks go with paper, not walls. She is likely to use words in ways she believes they were meant to be used. She is not uncreative, (we’ll save that for another post) but she creates differently. Gram sees the practical and seeks to make her words work for her. Failure is not a happy accident for Gram as it is for Imma. It is one of her biggest struggles. She needs to succeed or she feels like she should give up.
Of course these are both extremes, and we can find both in the same person. They can also learn a great deal by accepting the other instead of seeking to change her.
Are you able to see beyond the practical use of something, say a word, paragraph, poem, etc. and use it in a different way or are you tied to the uses you understand? If you lean hard in one direction or the other, how does this affect your writing? Are you self-sabatoging by walking the line or by always floating above the clouds? Have you learned anything about yourself and your writing through these examples? Why does knowing the inner workings of your inner writer help you write better? These questions will get you started. Feel free to comment on other questions that come to mind.