I used to worry a lot about my daughter’s outlook on life. So pessimistic, I thought! Unrealistic expectations. Frustrated with the “inadequacies of life.” People, to put it plainly, disappointed her.
I worried that she would grow to find her life filled with unhappiness. I tried to persuade her to look for the proverbial silver lining in her days, to find a spark of joy in boredom, to habitually seek out the positive. She resisted. Or, so I thought.
This morning, all my fear for what I believed to be her inevitable misery-filled life vanished.
We were at our local coffee shop sharing a private half-hour before school (enhanced by hot chocolate with extra whipped cream.)
She was at ease. Happy for the surprise date that I invited her on. Positively giddy about the whipped cream dangling from her nose.
We spoke about school, books, writing, poetry, and, ultimately, the creative process.
I have always admired hers. She is fearless when it comes to her writing. Words pour from her. She does not worry about the consequences of her sentences. Perhaps she is unaware of them. For such a tiny, little girl, her stories are deep and, well, big.
When she writes, she is immersed in her mind’s world. She pays no mind to the goings-on about her. She has found her rabbit hole. When she emerges, she carries with her a creation that she is, surprisingly, unattached to. Dropping her pages on the table, or maybe even on the floor, she skips off to play with her Barbies. Her writing is done. It is in the past. She rambles forward, waiting, confidently, for inspiration’s lightening bolt to strike again. She does not worry that it will not come.
My writing process is the polar opposite. Ideas flow, yet I struggle to surpass the fear that my words won’t adequately convey my message. I conjure, ponder, fret, and procrastinate. I think, study, research, and doubt. I spend hours, weeks, sometimes months, crafting my story in my mind, refusing to commit it to paper until it’s fully cooked. Even then, I torture my work with endless revisions and edits. I feel guilty about all the paper I’m wasting. Forests of trees sacrificed for my fledgling sentences.
We talked about how different each artist’s creative process can be.
“A blank page frightens me,” I admit. “All those possibilities.”
“All those possibilities!!!” she exclaims, eyes sparkling.
“The first word is always the hardest for me,” I say.
For her, writing that first word is akin to being the person lucky enough to step in the snow before anyone else.
“Blank pages make me shiver,” I continue.
“I love blank pages!” she laughs.
Perhaps she’s not the one I should have been worrying about.