As if last week's riches weren't enough, here is the conclusion of Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich's wildly inspiring and moving blog piece. Read it... and then go out and play! -Anne
Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich: Playing Ourselves into Wide Open Spaces - part two
A few years ago, I left myself with a week to write about 200 pages (don't ask) of 8th Grade Superzero, then called Long Time No Me. The only way that I got out of that one was through play. I came up with the silliest, wackiest, most ridiculous things -- and I threw them in. Even though much of the text didn't stay, the anything goes sensibility freed me to get it done, to laugh at myself amidst the frenzy. And one of the characters made up during that week remains, and is one of my favourites.
• Let go of rigid definitions of ‘writing’ and ‘creativity’. Celebrate the notes you write to yourself, the doodles, the scratches and sketches.
• Read something from a new-to-you cultural tradition. There's more to life than the Western Bildungsroman, and Aristotle isn't the end.
• Write a Top Secret note to a friend, and fold it up till it’s tiny and tight. Pass it to them as a surprise.
• Make up your own words. Invent your own language.
• Make a book, like an accordion book, or a craftzine for kids. I use Ruth McNally Barshaw’s technique of making an 8-page booklet out of one piece of paper constantly. Mail your book art to yourself.
• Write a song, and sing yourself to sleep.
• Take opportunities to be multiliterate. Many of us already fool around and mess about in digital spaces. We write differently on Twitter, Facebook, on our blogs, and in articles. Embrace the opportunities for playful writing with digital tools.
• Make a glog!
• Make an audio recording of your story. What additional texture does your voice add, the surrounding sounds, the silent spaces?
Play allows us to “think, wonder, learn, and explore without worrying about skill" writes Ginger Carlson in Wonder Child. Ask why, and why not. I'm often asked where I get my ideas from, and usually my answer hovers between sarcasm and embarrassed incoherence. Edi at Crazy Quilts opened up so many new stories and worlds and creative opportunities for me just by asking Why Do You Write?. Jenn at Book Lovers Inc. asked authors "If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?". My answer was one of the more mundane (I had two, either "Overthinker and Underdone" or "Wholly Hybrid"); other authors played freely, coming up with hilarious and delightful results.
• Do Nothing. Chances are, 90% of the people around you already think that you do nothing all day, and then a fully-formed book and a giant check pop out of your mouth just before bed -- so don't worry about it. Sit. Lie down. Sit on a stoop, on the grass, in the bathroom. Just be. Do not try to think of something. Or anything. Or that thing. Or this thing. Let the thoughts that have been tiptoeing around the perimeters of your soul, waiting patiently to be welcomed in, waiting for you to give them leave to speak above a whisper. Two wonderful pieces on the importance of that kind of meaningful rest were include Jim Burke's Holding A Space for Oneself, and Sister Diane's treatise on relentless input and the creative mind. Read them, and then don't do anything.
On the night before my mommy died, we played together. My sister and I read aloud from the back issues of Readers Digest that were as plentiful at the hospital as the beeping machines. I read the corny jokes and kids-say-the-darndest-things anecdotes. I got to an article about the benefits of bananas, and my mother, a former nurse, hospital administrator, community health center director, teacher, and author who could no longer speak aloud, mouthed that my sister and I should always eat bananas.
The next morning, we went to the hospital and up to her room; we were the first to discover that she had died.
We spent the day in a hospital lounge; friends drifted in slowly, shocked and proffering food. I refused, and refused, until finally I barked "Bananas. I'll eat a banana." And I had one, and then another a bit later. And when one of my other mothers was unsuccessful in getting me to eat anything else, and I'd said "only a banana" for the umpteenth time, like a stubborn two-year-old, she laughed. A short laugh that was filled with so much love, kindness, sorrow, and gentle playfulness, it almost breaks me to remember it.
But the memory of that almost playful moment on that terrible, horrible Day is precious. I can smile when I remember that that particular other mother and mine sat through those endless shows and story plays, boring baton routines and costume changes; even the one where we charged extra for a cake that was made crunchy by the inadvertent addition of eggshells. I can remember to put my whole self into every moment of my life, to play with my story, to be all that I am. So much of my creative spirit was lit by the stories my mother told, of when-she-was-a-little-girl, and Anansi, by singing and dancing to Boney M.'s "Brown Girl in the Ring" -- I fantasized more about being that girl than I did about being a princess. I smile and remember to play to celebrate the myth and magic of life. I play to remember why I believe in Brown Girls in the Ring, burning bushes, magic wardrobes, fairies, Voldemort, and Heaven. We can play to, as author Amanda Blake Soule writes “fully know, love, and embrace our creative selves". I play to write all of my stories, the funny parts and the sad ones. I play to take my work seriously, and myself less so. Play for a while. Play as if your life depends on it. I think, sometimes, it does.