Wednesday, October 8, 2014

You Gotta Play

Zestful Blog Post #74

Recently I was talking with a few other authors about inspiration. Everybody slung some bullshit about being inspired by heroic others, and I came away dissatisfied. Thinking about it, I realized that inspiration really means stimulation. I tried to go back in time, or basically to find some origin or place it can all be reduced to, and TOYS kept coming up.

Toys are the original stimulators, aren't they? The original inspirers.

The first toy I remember really loving was a fist-sized red rubber ball that came free in a Tide detergent box. (The original Tide graphic featured a red ball in the center.) My mom fished out the ball and tossed it to me, age probably three or four. I loved that ball. Other than its being bouncy, the main thing about it was its aroma. It smelled like Tide, and it stayed smelling like clean laundry for years, until I lost it on somebody's roof. The associations we make.

My point is this:

The sight or sound of a toy inspires us to act on it. A button on a string, a tricycle, an Etch-A-Sketch, a stick and an empty can, blocks, a cardboard boat. Point #2: As adults we don't stop needing toys, and we don’t stop needing play, no matter what we try to tell ourselves.

Lots of times we call the stuff we play with 'equipment,' but it amounts to the same thing. (A golf club by any other name, you know?)

I keep trying to decide if my writing instruments, my pens and pencils and papers, are tools or toys. Well, they're both, of course.

Don't spend every minute of today doing something productive, or feeling you OUGHT to be doing something productive. Play, dammit. Grab that banjo and tune it up. Run outside and pretend to be a secret agent. Sneak around. Go to the woods and find a cool stick. Leave the tree book at home.
You know you'll be better for it.

Next week I'll share some good news from writing friends.

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[photo of boat and physio instructor by ES] 


  1. Hmm, I think the blogosphere is trying to tell me something - this is the second post I've read about "play" in the last two days. I'd better get going - there are Legos waiting. :)

  2. Every morning, rattling window glass with my doumbek. Riding horses. Rock'n Roll on the treadmill while 'plotting.' Don't forget snagging the one you love and making them crazy happy.

    1. Looks like you got it, Morgyn. (I think riding must be one of the most wonderful things a person can do.)

  3. I never thought about it, but you're exactly right. My story telling roots probably go back to toys too. When I was a kid, I had a Christopher Reeve Superman doll -- I mean, action figure -- and I would come up with elaborate stories for the Man of Steel and his Super Friends. I'm still coming up with stories about good guys fighting bad guys, only I call it writing a murder mystery, rather than playing with toys. Great article.

  4. I had this life size doll I called Wendy when I was a kid. I always played dressed up and acted out scenarios with her. One scenario I remember the most was when I created a wedding hall of stuffed animals and action figures as friends of the bride and groom. And waiting at the alter was my younger brother as I marched my Wendy doll down the aisle.

    But when I entered 1st grade, my aunt threw out all our toys (think I cried). So my "toys" over the years developed into manga and manhwa (graphic novels), anime and Asian dramas (watched on my Chromebook).

    1. That's interesting: from toys to reading and absorbing art.


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