In an effort to show more of the girl behind the computer (who happens to have a really tough time taking pictures of herself for posting and sharing online), instead I’m going to share something rather personal.
I’m afraid that in another raid on my parent’s house, I found this guy, and my first Teddy (broken beyond repair), and his friend (who really is sort of creepy, but also kinda cool as a gadget that connects to the main bear and comes alive to help tell stories). This one still works though. Mostly, anyway. I took his vest off to clean some spots from it and couldn’t leave him naked, so I put the first clean outfit I found– his PJs, haha. Aren’t they actually kinda cute?
I’ve been messing with this bear for a day or two, trying to get him to come out of his hibernation coma. (If you have some sort of electronic device that you love dearly, DON’T let it be stored in a shed for a year. In fact, leaving it with your mother who doesn’t understand why you kept the thing in the first place is probably a bad idea. It’s liable to be tossed. I’m lucky that she didn’t do that and only stuck him in a plastic bin in a shed that leaks and is guarded by humongous mutant spiders.)
Anyway, this brought back a lot of memories of what I was like as a kid. You know, I was pretty much exactly the same as I am now. Shocker, right? Parents out there already know this because they’ve seen it happen with their own kids, and I’ve watched this happen with my niece and nephew. The way you are as a little little kid is generally the way you’re going to be as an adult. Unless something horrible happens to knock you off the rails, and these things do happen to people.
When I was a kid, I was obsessed with stories and books and music. Even though I’m the youngest of four, the age differences between me and my siblings made it so that I was practically an only child, and I used to spend a lot of time by myself creating stories. Before I could read, I was one of those kids making up stories based on the pictures. (I remember one afternoon forcing my dad to listen to the story I crafted based on The Runaway Bunny. I had no ending, and my poor dad had to find a way to politely excuse himself.)
Now as a kid, I remember being told to find what I was meant to do in the world. People used to say it all the time. Everyone has something they like to do, something they’re good at, and they should stick to that and find a way to make it work for them. This is how you get contestants on American Idol who honestly believe they can sing because they have a passion for it and they’ve always done it even when they were little.
Is passion enough though? I write stories because I absolutely love to, but that doesn’t mean I’m great at it. I work on my craft, and I’ll continue to work at it, but will I ever be as good as someone like Margaret Atwood or Neil Gaiman? Isn’t there a limit to what I am capable of?
I’ll be honest. I believe that there is a limit. I also believe that a person is capable of doing whatever they want to do if they really have their heart set on it. Like when I was a kid, I got so inspired by Disney’s The Little Mermaid, I decided I’d learn to draw. And I did in a way. I studied the lines, I copied pictures, I studied techniques, I experimented. But was I ever going to be as good as someone with natural talent and the same desire to work on their craft? Oh hell no. I learned that right away. I still like to draw, but it’s always going to be difficult for me.
I think I’ve found ways around this natural limitation though. We have a tendency to think that “growing” only moves in one direction. In order to get better, I thought that my doodles had to be more more realistic, more amazing, more like someone else’s work. Same with writing. Getting better has generally meant not just writing clearly, but crafting sentences that astound. Writing out the same old in some new fancy way that is halfway poetic.
But you can grow in other directions too. With doodling, I learned my limits and found my strengths. Instead of trying to surpass my limits, I decided to work on my strength– coloring. I still worked on basics like proportion, but I found that I could sometimes dazzle with simple colors that helped my style.
Writing is similar. I’m never going to be as insightful and poetic as Gaiman. But I can work on writing different types of stories, the stories that aren’t told. Instead of following a hero around, I might tell the story of his squire or the story of his wife and how she suffers at home while he’s away.
Rather than trying to scale the wall I’ve decided to stand in front of (writing), I’m going to look for a way around. The wall is pretty long, so I have a lot of walking to do.