Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Sweet Innocence and Imagination of a Child

I once heard that J. M. Barrie got the idea for Peter Pan by watching children play. Their imagination far exceeded his own and so he took their creative adventures and crafted a masterpiece from the minds of the young.

Perhaps I write fantasy because I have spent my life caring for, nannying, playing with children, and now raising two of my own. Although I have no tales as distinctly wonderful as the great J. M. Barrie's, I can only hope to capture some of the creativity a child, so effortlessly, has.

I'm going to share a little bit of my personal life with you, I hope you don't mind. :)

Before I started school, my family was living in a large house in Iowa. I remember that it had a gigantic basement and it was for the soul purpose of my brother and sisters to play in. Jealousy consumed me because my siblings could write and I could not. Pulling out a piece of paper and pencil, I sat down and tried to write a "magical potion" with letters and words that only I would understand. Who cares if I didn't know their way to read and write? A few hours later, I went back to my paper and became so upset that I couldn't remember what I had wrote! It crushed me that I couldn't read or write! Quite some time down the road, my family was sitting in a restaurant that had paper place mats that we use to turn over and write on the back. It was there that I wrote my very first word: Kalina. I was so proud! (Is it normal that I remember all this?)

By the second grade we lived in Illinois and I was fully literate. What a blessing education is! However, I was behind on my reading and was pulled out of class to practice reading with a teacher one-on-one. It was then that I began finding the joy in books.

When I was in fourth grade I lived in California. My friends and I sat down during countless recesses and wrote a play to perform to the Kindergarten class. Much to my teacher's dismay (this had nothing to do with her lesson plan!) the Kindergarten teacher accepted our offer to perform to her students during school. So we did. Our play was much like the tale of Cinderella and I remember acting out a cruel part. Perhaps I was an evil step-sister or the step-mother. The part that was most memorable to me was the writing of the script.

By the sixth grade my family was living in Missouri. My English teacher gave us a creative writing assignment and I decided to write a screenplay of my very own. It was about a teenager who was babysitting and took the child to the park one day. While she was there, she started talking to her friends and the child was kidnapped! She called the parents and cried to the police about how sorry she was. The kidnapper asked for ransom and in the end the child was returned safely and the babysitter was forgiven. What an imagination I had at such an early age!

In Eighth grade my family was now living in Arizona. I was very involved in the youth group at my church. For one of our activities, we had to perform something for our parents. What a coincidence! It just so happened that I had written a play a few years ago that we could act out. With just a little bit of script tweaking, we performed it in front of a large audience and we received rave reviews.

I never thought that I would be a writer. It's not what I wanted to be when I grew up. Instead my head was filled with visions of becoming an actress, a teacher, a professional shopper, or perhaps a CIA Agent. My imagination was so far ahead of me there was no way I could keep up. Looking back, there is no surprise to me that I became a writer. I had become one the first day I tried to write that "magical potion" with words that only I could understand.

The imagination and innocence of a child is something no one can duplicate but I believe if I can even get a little tiny piece of that creativity written down, I may have a chance at writing something magical.

Do you believe children can inspire your writing? I'm curious, how many writing moms are out there? Or if you aren't a parent and weren't around a lot of children growing up, what inspired you to write? Was it a surprise that you became a writer or was it what you always wanted to be?
Kalina Kay