I had it all figured out this week. It was a two-movie weekend and I was going to show you how “Zombieland” and “The Queen” were so similar. What, you may ask, are the similarities between a horror-comedy about a country taken over by zombies and a serious drama about how Tony Blair and Queen Elizabeth II dealt with Great Britain’s trauma upon the tragic death of Princess Di? Well, I can only tell you that my analyses of these two films would have put the “Caine/Hackman Theory” to shame.
But alas, things changed. A day at the LA Times Festival of Books will do that. It surely could be the intellectual’s Disneyland. Books, books, and more books everywhere. And all kinds: mysteries, romance, fantasy, religion, big publishers and independent publishers… (and a great book about networking by my friend, Dr. Bill Saleebey, called “Connecting: Beyond the Name Tag”; go pick it up…)
So what did all of that mean to me? It made me feel, in some respects, unfulfilled. Sure, I have had accomplishments in my life; in fact, everywhere I look I see accomplishments. But being at the Book Festival raised my “awe” factor. I am in awe of people who write, who have the discipline and the creativity to craft stories out of mere words, who can paint pictures and convey emotion by putting letters on paper.
You see, I always loved to read, but I never thought about writing. And I can give you two words why not. They were “creative” and “writing.” Whenever I thought about learning how to write or taking a writing class in school, I was faced with those two words and I would find something else. I was especially scared by that first word… “creative.”
In case you don’t know me well, there are many words that can be used to describe me. Without being conceited, I would say some of those include personable, sarcastic (guilty!), funny, intelligent… but you would never, ever, EVER, say I was creative. And I am ok with that. Look, you come to grips with your lack of talent when you get kicked out of the junior high school Senate because you can’t color inside of the lines. So I always believed… no, I always KNEW that I was not creative. I never really had an interest in it to begin with. Color inside the lines? Forget it; I’ll just scribble/scrabble to finish the stupid project so that I can get on to things that are really important like reading. So I always correlated creative writing with being able to create pictures in my head. And without being able to color, how could I create pictures in my head?
So when the opportunities came up to take creative writing courses, I would say no thank you. And I regret it now. I feel like I missed out. Is it too late for me? No, of course not. But I was meditating on it today, while walking through the Festival, what it would be like to sit in a room all day and just write. (Ok, I didn’t really “meditate,” I just kind of thought about it for like a second or two.) Write whatever comes to mind. Write what I think is funny. Just me and a computer. Me and my thoughts. Me and those 26 letters, with which I could craft my opus, the Great American Novel. And not only to do that, but to be so good at it, so talented, that other people get enjoyment out of it.
That is a talent. And one which I would enjoy learning if I have. But in the meantime, I am going to be supportive of anyone else who wants to explore their talent. When my daughter gets a sticker book and says that she wants to put all of the stickers on one page, who am I to stifle her creativity? There is something liberating about taking your thoughts and putting them down on paper. Of course, then the self-editing comes in and the concern that the words that are on paper won’t mean to other people what it means to me. But it is better to do it and find out, then it is to always wonder if there was ever any talent there at all.
This week, I am going to try to create something… And I will do it with my words, not crayons.