Thursday, June 30, 2011

Writer Pryde

The other day I walked into the living room to find my six year old son Harrison walking repeatedly into a wall.
“Harry,” I said, “What are you doing?”
“Oh,” he said (BANG!) “Nothing.”
“Really?” I said, “Because it looks like you are walking straight into that wall and then bouncing off it and walking straight into it again.”
He sighed tolerantly. “Mama,” he said, “I’m not walking into a wall. I’m trying to walk through it.”

Then he explained that he had been thinking about the X-Men, and in particular about the character Kitty Pryde, whose power is to be able to walk through solid objects. “I figure,” he said, “If I hold my breath and just keep trying, I’ll be able to do it, too.”
Now, this is when a more responsible mom would probably have told him to stop. After all, if he kept walking straight into walls he was likely to break his nose—and if he kept believing that he would have superpowers some day, he was likely to break his heart. But, try as I might, I couldn’t bring myself to say it.

See, being a writer is a lot like this. We believe that, if we keep walking into that wall—banging ourselves against that creative block, that hard part of the story, that closed publisher’s door—we will eventually develop the superpower of walking through it.

Impossible? Maybe. Except that I have known mutants who did it before, mutants who got good, got published, got through. I have even been that mutant myself and felt the giddy moment when the thing that was a solid block turns suddenly passable and I step through it as easily as a kid walking through the cool mist of a sprinkler on a long, hot summer day.

So I patted Harry on the head. “Carry on,” I said, “Just tell me when you break through.”
He gave me a thumbs up. “I will.” (BANG!)

You tell me, too, and I promise I’ll do the same.

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