The same side of two coins?

He said, “I’ve never written anything just for fun.

I wish I could show you the look of absolute incredulity on his face as he said it.  I’m sure it was identical to my own expression at the time.  You see, he was responding to my remark that my writing group “gets me writing things I wouldn’t normally, just for fun.”

Fun.

I could see it in his eyes.  Did Not Compute.  Whereas I couldn’t process the idea of writing not being fun.

He has a message to deliver to the world, and his writing life is geared towards developing the right voice to broadcast his message.  I am the kid playing in the corner with coloured pens and strings of words while the grown-ups do the Important Stuff.

Good for him.  And good for me too.  Both approaches are equally valid.  We all have our own ways of being and our own ways of writing – not to mention our own reasons for doing it in the first place.  There’s no one Right Way.  Your way, his way, my way: they’re all right.  And one day, for a time, I might adopt his way, or he might try mine, or we might both discover yours.  If it works, do it.  If it doesn’t, try something new.

I have to end with one of my favourite quotes.  I’m not sure I fully understand it (I am, after all, a child at heart), but I love the playful use of words, and it seems appropriate to so many things.  It’s from Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead:

For some of us it is performance, for others patronage. They are two sides of the same coin, or, let us say, being as there are so many of us, the same side of two coins.”
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An invitation to play

Open up an imaginary bag in front of you. Just for a while, put into it your judgement and self-criticism; the mental to-do list you’re continually adding to; your ticking inner clock; your need to be right and sensible and useful. Add anything else that feels heavy. Then zip up the invisible bag and put it to one side.

Grab a pen – any pen – and paper, nothing fancy.

Lie down on your belly on the floor, pen in hand and paper in front of you. Kicking your heels in the air is optional, but it helps release the child inside.

(I appreciate that getting down to floor level may not be as easy as it once was, but there are alternatives: sitting on a beanbag; curling up in a corner of the sofa; even sitting on a cushion and leaning against the wall. But do try the floor if you possibly can. Your child-mind will respond.)

Write.

Write words you like; write a story about goblins and fairies; write something that makes you laugh; write a poem where the first letter of every line spells your favourite rude word. It doesn’t matter what you write. It only matters that you do it. It’s not work, it’s play.

Enjoy your playing, and when you’ve finished, go and bake chocolate chip fairy cakes.

Autumn leaves: playtime

I watch a small blonde girl playing.  She picks up a fallen leaf in each hand and studies them.  She waves them over her head.  She shreds one to see how small she can make the pieces.  She skips and she laughs.

I was a small blonde girl once.  I’m going out to play in the leaves.  All work and no play is no good for anyone.  It’s playtime.