In a garden, two little girls play. Draped in towels, and sheets and tablecloths mirroring some foreign garb – they sneak around the corners of the building, avoiding the rabbit warren, and choosing instead the grass. Speaking hurriedly to one another, they share their secrets, before taking turns swinging on a long rope, hanging from a tall tree. From one end of the yard they swing, but if you were to ask them, the rope took them past the confines of time itself, into another world, just waiting for their adventures.
Somewhere, in the middle of the game, one girl turns to the other and says, ‘this would make a great story!’ And just like that they leave the yard in pursuit of pen and paper and start to jot down the story of an imaginary world where time travel exists, and everyone has a name with an X in. (They don’t notice that. One of their mothers points it out later when she is told excitedly about their tale.)
From then on they spend the rest of the day slipping in and out of their game to write their ideas. They fix their garb, and focus on important details. They both talk of writing this story, and one of them feels that the other will win, but holds on dearly to the hope that she can join in too.
Her friend says that she can.
They talk about their writing dreams.
‘We could make this a book!’
‘We could! I’m going to be a writer when I grow up.’
‘We will be different writers though; you’re more of a children’s writer. I’ll write adult books.’
It’s said in kind; she doubts any harm was meant, but the girl is crestfallen. In her childish mind writing for children is not really writing at all. And in that moment, she questions if she can really do it.
That little story has been slipping in and out of my memory this past week. Since my post about woodland creatures, a few people said I should write for children. It’s not the insult it was when I was eleven. Now it’s more of a compliment. No longer a begrudging second place, but a lovely acknowledgement of my writing.
Thank you. 🙂
It’s also more than that. Sometimes when life is busy (as last week was), and you find yourself going through the motions, it’s easy to get lost. You can forget why you’re doing things in the midst of the what.
The kids become a to-do list rather than a blessing.
Your partner becomes another person to try to keep happy.
Work becomes the thing that stops you having fun.
Your writing is just a means to an end; publish a blog post, finish an essay, submit the article.
There’s no time or energy to remember that in amid the craziness are the people and the things you love, and that they are so much more than items on a checklist.
Until I think about two little girls, dressed in sheets, in a green, Darwin, garden. Swinging on ropes into imaginary lands as real as the yard around them. I see the dreams and the excitement, and yes, the slight. The moment of hurt when my friend deemed me not quite good enough, and I couldn’t understand why.
Now I see that the insult was never about the type of writing; it was the significance. Even then, as a little girl I don’t think I cared what I wrote, just so long as it mattered. I wanted purpose above all else. Purpose in parenting. Purpose in working. Purpose in marriage.
Purpose in a children’s story.
Sometimes in the busyness and the rush, you can lose the why of the what, and in doing so, you somehow lose yourself.
But little girls in a garden play, and I am reminded that who we are is more important than what we do; it’s the reason that we do it.