My Sandbox –

Author’s  Note:  This was a discussion post written for my Development of Creative Thinking graduate class in response to reading several chapters’ worth of theories on creativity.

I have a sandbox. This is my sandbox. I like my sandbox because I can do anything I like in my sandbox. I don’t really know why I do the things I do, play the games I play, or pretend the things that I pretend in my sandbox. They just seem like really good ideas and I do them; they often end up turning out to be really great. I love my sandbox.  This was the thought that came to me tonight as I spoke to my husband and we worked through how to voice our creative processes.

Freud noted his theory that creativity is the extension of childhood free play and that creative writing, for example, resulted from the writer indulging in the “playing pretend” of his or her childhood in order to create these fantastic worlds within their fiction. With my larping, I have had people say to me, “You and Ben [my husband] didn’t get enough pretend time as children, did you?” And my response has always been: “Oh, on the contrary, I got a lot of pretend time. I just don’t want it to stop with childhood.” My very first larping game, I fell into so deeply the action of playing my character and interacting with the characters that others played, that the six hours of game flew by for me and I found myself very disappointed that it was over, as I still do at the end of a game.

It was quite a similar feeling to when I saw “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring” for the first time. I fell head- and heartlong into that film, into its story, so much so that when a friend leaned over to me and asked, “Did you like it?” as Frodo and Sam crested the hill from which they could see Mordor, I felt my heart sink and I kind of squeaked, “It’s over?!” But I knew I was hooked. I read all three novels in a few weeks’ time, treated my friends to midnight showings of the next two movies over the next two years, wrote nine stories to fill in the gaps where there were things that I wanted to know, and wrote my undergraduate thesis on Tolkien’s language and use of Norse myth, saga, and tradition in the Rohirrim, and my Research Studies paper in graduate school on the Tolkien Hero. I published my papers in Parma Nole, the Journal of the Northeastern Tolkien Society while in graduate school and one of them will be republished in a book by those editors this fall. I worked until I finally exhausted my steam, my flow. I still love Tolkien and his world deeply, though my love doesn’t burn as hotly now as it did then. I still cannot explain what inspired me and drew me into Middle Earth so deeply, but I can tell you that I enjoyed every minute of it.

That’s kind of what my creative process is like. I cannot explain it. I cannot assign it stages of work or lay it out on a linear scale. My mind most definitely has“mysterious happenings”. In grad school, I woke up from a dream one night and had enjoyed it so much that I grabbed my notebook and ran into the bathroom so I wouldn’t disturb my roommate. In there, I sat on the edge of the tub for an hour and scribbled in my notebook until I had the dream down just as I remembered it, what I could remember. Dreams fade quickly for me and, often, I can only hang onto feelings, emotions, or sensations. This one, I remembered plot, causes, and people. It was rare, a white elephant amongst dreams for me. So I hurried to write it down while the “flow” was upon me. I cannot explain to you where the stories come from, where the characters come from, the costuming ideas, or the desire to write letters. “It just came to me” is my staple answer. I had an idea from…somewhere…and I ran with it. I love the process!

I love the writing. I love watching characters and their lives form beneath my pen or by the strokes of my keyboard. I love planning the pieces of a costume, parts from hither, thither, and yon that come together to make up a gorgeous whole with nary a stitch. I am in love with the Process! That doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the Product; I do. And then I want a new idea, a new something to work on. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t. But, from whence it comes, I could never tell you.

A Notion of Fear

Cross-posted from my “academic” blog – The Mind’s Vale

studying-watercolor1The day after tomorrow, my summer courses begin. It has been six years since I have undertaken graduate coursework, and I find myself becoming very nervous. I am in a completely different situation now. When I was in college and graduate school, I could devote my full attention to my studies, without work or anything else that necessarily required my attention. I had my hobbies, friendships, and a romantic relationship, of course, but those were choices. Now I am a wife and a mother and those are high demands on my time, whether I like it or not. School must come second, naturally, but it must also be completed. I have five weeks in these two courses and all the expectations that come with graduate work, which will – most likely – include two 20-page papers at the end of this road. Not to mention that those papers will come due right when I am supposed to leave for my anniversary trip with my husband; so, naturally, I will need to finish them early.

So, altogether, this means that I will have to be focused and hardcore AND dependent on others to help me. That last one is not a trait with which I often like to truck. I am very independent and like to do things myself. However, I KNOW that I cannot amuse a toddler AND pay attention to a lecture on video or read dry academic writing and have it sink in to my brain  and memory satisfactorily. At least, not without losing my sanity. So, for five weeks, I will have to be dependent on my husband, my in-laws, and maybe even my friends to help me carve out the necessary time to myself to get my classes done and even to get ahead on my work. To those wonderful people, I say thank you in advance for your help.

I’d also ask ,though, that you keep me accountable with my studies. This is not an option; it is something that must be done, that I will be graded on, and I want to, if anything, push my GPA ever higher. So it will require attention, focus, and hard work on my part. This will not be easy, I am very nervous about being able to do it well, but I will do it.