The What Ifs and How Tos: History in the Making

Yesterday I said I’ve had the creative process on my mind and this has been due to the season and some recent discoveries made online. For reasons unknown to me, yet evident every year, the coming of fall and winter puts me into a mood and mindset that needs projects to focus on. I suppose I do this seasonally anyway–perhaps we all do, thus things like “Spring Cleaning!” “Summer Plans!” and let’s not forget, “New Year’s Resolutions!” Oh the lofty things we conjure up and seldom fully realize, and yet without these goals to serve as catalysts for action, too much time on the couch can become down right depressing.

For whatever reason, I feel the intensity for needed ideas in this season–perhaps it is because the sun and warm temperatures aren’t there to energize me, so a sort of desperation to focus on things I enjoy and aspire toward sets in. Some people need Vitamin D; I need projects; whatever works I guess.

The truth is, I’ve always been a goal-oriented kind of girl. The problem is I haven’t stuck with many of my goals along the way due to being pulled in myriad different directions of, “That would be so great! I’m doing it!” In retrospect, all of my ideas have been good ones–it’s just that the number of their rises and falls rivals that of empires throughout history.

Today, I’d like to share a little of this history as a way to get the conversation going about my current feelings on goals and creativity. The first part of this that needs mentioning is that a personal platform actually exists for this purpose of sharing such things: I have this blog! While it is still in its baby stages, the fact that this blog has become a part of my daily routine is, in a word, rad. Here’s why…

Having successfully started and launched this blog last summer (July 2014), it’s been a break-through time for me to stick with it on a daily basis. I have to take a moment to brag–I haven’t missed a day yet! Archived today, November 18, 2014, there are 126 posts, 127 when this one goes up–wow! I’d had 70 as a goal based on my reading about getting started with blogging and marketing strategies. The recommendation was to get a solid start first and then begin the task of exploring expansion/editing ideas for one’s blog. So, a month past my target base number, here I am still posting and feeling like I finally have a specific something to do every day which I’ve miraculously kept up with. I’m hoping this 100+ has indeed made a habit!

I say this because I’ve always had a wandering spirit–that sounds much more poetic and figurative than I’d intended, because I really just mean that I’ve always been a person with a lot of ideas. Though inspiring for a time, due to their vast number and diverse natures, these ideas were transient. My history of ideas goes something like this:

maps

(Not my map actually, but similar to ones I made…If only I’d known about the Terra Verita Magica.)

As a child, I loved map-making–at 8 years old, this entailed cutting maps out of National Geographic magazines I found at thrift stores or stole from the Dentist’s office and using them as models for my own geographic renditions. Pretty soon, maps covered half of my bedside wall. Was cartography in my future? No. My young tastes turned to science endeavors instead, making me a sort of reincarnated, tiny version of Magellan + Galileo, with a sex change (21st century possibilities…).

A microscope one Christmas morning at about 10 years old elicited SCREAMS. Sorry, Mom & Dad, but you really outdid yourselves and I had to show it. Hours spent studying the fine details of my eyelashes and dead skin cells resulted in me imagining biology as a career–I did enjoy the life science unit of 5th grade science class and also thought living among animals would also be cool. The storyline of the 1989 Disney film, “Cheetah,” seemed like a real possibility for my life abroad. Goals at this time included collecting as many fact sheets as humanly possible for my Wildlife Fact File and even keeping duplicates.

factfile

Drawing the animals was part of the routine and two summers ago while sifting through the boxes of “Anika’s Annals” delivered to me by my relieved parents, finally free of these cardboard burdens after years of care taking, I rediscovered folders full of feathers, fins, and fur. In fact, I’d taken a summer art course with this title and had gotten into it, apparently. Maybe I would be a…draw-er! Is that a thing? Pencil lead covered my left hand from dragging it across the page, south-paw style. When looking at my old pieces, I noted the originally white paper was grayed beyond the reach of any eraser. There was also a oversized, puffy clown fish I’d painted with two mirrored sides, “stuffed” with scrap paper. Such ingenuity if I do say…

clownfish

In 6th grade, a new teacher joined my private school’s staff and she changed the name of English class to “Writing Workshop.” She was off to a good start! I was intrigued by the both the class title and her face, somewhat shiny with scarring. Rumor had it she had lived through a horrific car accident and had formerly been gorgeous. In reality, she didn’t look that bad and I have no idea whether there was any credence to be had in this gossip spread around the 5 & 6th grade classrooms. It added to the mystery though, which as we all know, is essential to middle school life along with other unsolved mysteries including do we still get recess? Does Kris like me? And, when will my boobs grow in?

I adored Writing Workshop, featuring short story writing and various kinds of poetry. Limericks and haikus were so entertaining (and short! I wrote like, 50!) and it gave me a chance to memorize pieces from my favorite poet at that time, Shel Silverstein, for extra credit. This piece was and is an excellent sample:

overdue

 

If poetry was liberating, my short story attempted to take it to the next level, telling of the epic journey of one bunny into an enchanted forest filled with perils. It bore an uncanny resemblance to Beatrice Potter’s tales, mixed with a little Disney. I also illustrated my story which added a personal touch to go along with at least 10 pages of smeared, handwritten, lead lettering. The story still managed to shimmer. My teacher loved it, which made me love her more. It was then and there that a I realized a new career was definitely my calling: author & illustrator.

Other dreams and goals have come and gone through the years but this one in particular has stuck tenaciously with me like trailing toilet paper or my dislike of ketchup or my penchant for cheap jewelry or laughing at inappropriate times. Writing became an outlet, a way to express rather embarrassing existential reflections–the majority of my philosophical musings from 12-15 years old don’t ever need to be published, though it is a relief to see the growth in preoccupations between then and now. Transitioning from worrying through words about never finding love in the entirety of my 13-year-old life to greater works expressing fears over emerging wrinkle lines shows progress, right? Or at least the progression of time?

Loftier topics do exist alongside social cares in my old journals. I suppose wondering if one’s soul is “darkening into a black as deep as midnight and darker still” is a worthy pursuit shared by the likes of Macbeth and Joseph Conrad, and me in 7th grade.

(My journals, in both large and microscopic font, and blurred slightly so you can’t actually read them)

journals

Writing took a distinctly scholarly shape in college and unfortunately, I have to admit I was not confident enough in my work to apply for the creative writing program, opting instead to study literature and learn something from the greats. Without a doubt, this was incredibly enriching, but post Bachelor’s, my mind still itched to write down ideas and transform them into splendid works on paper. And that’s what I’m working on now!

I still have A LOT of ideas–too many! This is likely very evident from my topical acrobatics on this site. For now, let me say Thank You for allowing me a moment to reflect upon and share a bit of myself today. All bright futures have points of origin in history, do they not? Here’s to hoping that these diverse details are merely puzzle pieces of a bigger, focused picture–one that somehow includes as many of my LIKES as possible.

Perhaps I ask for too much, but you never know until you ask…

So as you can see, there continue to be many What Ifs in my life and I’m still working on the How Tos, but right now I’m finding joy in the journey and that’s a reward I am cherishing.

 

*Images from www.handmaps.org, www.pinterest.com, infopeake.org, and my personal archives (very personal)

 

 

 

 

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