Sep 7, 2011

oh to be a child once more

Although I've only been out of college for two years (feels like ages longer, sadly), I've actually held down work in the same type of job throughout most of it. Early childhood education. Much of this is complete irony, as I swore up and down that I would never EVER be a teacher (despite my pursuit of a degree in English). This is why I did not pursue the education track at my university. Husband and I decided to move to South Korea, where we could travel and earn a good deal of money. Sadly, the only jobs there we were qualified for was teaching English. I relinquished my vows of teaching chastity for the sake of seeing the world.
Little did I expect I might actually enjoy it. I taught 5 year old boys who, while crazy and wild, are also some of the most imaginative creatures you will ever meet.
I am now back in America and filling my mornings as a preschool teacher. This involves watching 2 year old boys for four hours every morning. I love it. There's something about being around children that's so freeing. You being to remember what it was like to have a boundless imagination. Something can turn into anything. The tile floor becomes and ocean or a boiling pit of lava. Chairs become full blown pirate ships and tables are islands you swim to in order to bury your treasure (plastic food cans).
And I realized this morning, while I was donning a tiny pirate jacket and pink glitter, faery wings, that I needed to be more like them. Much like these children I watch, I too have to immerse myself in a world of imagination every day. In order to write a novel with a convincing world and convincing characters, I have to trust in the power of make-believe. That's really what writing is. Grown-up make believe. With poetic turns of phrase and cool plot lines. We can't afford to lose our imaginations. I think a lot of people do. They sit and wonder why children are so fascinated with sticks and running around in circles in the mud. I like to think that I haven't lost this magic all of the way. I don't fool myself. I know my active imagination isn't quite as wild or strange as it was when I was a wee one (see example below). But I want to think that my younger imaginings were so bizarre that I carried some semblance of originality into my adulthood (which I'm still in slight denial about).
So, writers, want good ideas for stories? Hang out with kids and try to wedge your way into their imagination time. It's refreshing. And it helps you remember how much your brain can flex.

In my effort to revive my childhood imagination, I decided to read back through an essay I wrote in third grade. Do enjoy.

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