Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Harnessing My Inner Child

One of my favorite things about writing middle grade is that my characters are kids. So as I tell my stories, I get to channel that carefree innocence children are blessed with, and live in a world where everything seems magical and anything is possible.

I miss those feelings as a grown-up. I miss loving a dress--not because it makes me feel thin or is a designer brand--but because the skirt flares when I twirl. And I miss being unselfconscious enough to twirl my dress in public. I miss being fascinated by the simple things in life, like rainbows and ladybugs and bubbles. I miss running just because it feels right, not because I'm worried about how much cardio I need to do. And I miss feeling like the world is a happy, safe place, and that anything that's wrong can be fixed by my parents.

That's not to say that kids don't still have problems--especially now-a-days. But even still, when you really watch kids (and I do. I always keep my eye on the kids I see, trying to learn their mannerisms and figure out what they're thinking) there's just this...youthful enthusiasm, this, zeal for life you don't see very often with adults. And when I write, I get to channel that enthusiasm on the page.

It isn't easy. I have a hard time turning off the cynical parts of my brain that have developed as I grew up. But fortunately I've found some ways to help me escape. I daydream. I listen to music. I surround myself with kid's stuff (my desk in the loft looks like Disneyland threw up all over it =D). And I feed off memories. I'm fortunate that my own memories are fairly vivid, especially from about age seven on. But I love hearing from others too.

So what about you guys. What do you remember about being a kid? Anything you miss? Anything you want to share? I'd love to read all about it in the comments.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

26 comments:

  1. Oh sure. To sum it up as you have: freedom. There was no worry what the other kid thought. There was no need to out do someone else. There was no need to push myself beyond my limits...because this just came naturally out of fun and joy. I (children) yearn. It's inspiring and so healthy. It's good to look back and remember those free times.

    In a household of four kids, I have plenty of opportunity to 'remember'.

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  2. OMG, I loved skirts that twirled when I was little. I took dancing too. I was always excited when I got a new pair of dancing shoes. Especially sparkling ones. :)

    Now I get to relive the joy of childhood through my nieces. Only this time, I get to buy them the pretty stuff. :)

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  3. I'm actually still very little kid-ish. :) What I really miss, I guess, is that eagerness about each new day. That 'sun's up, I'm out of bed, yay!' feeling. I can't imagine jumping out of bed anymore, I just kind of roll over until I'm on the floor, then scramble up. :)

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  4. "I miss loving a dress--not because it makes me feel thin or is a designer brand--but because the skirt flares when I twirl. And I miss being unselfconscious enough to twirl my dress in public."

    Just last weekend, I wore a dress to my cousin's wedding that I'd bought especially for the swirl in the skirt. At the wedding, my husband (who can't dance) ended up having to take the kids home early leaving me alone with my extended family. I ended up dancing with a cousin who actually twirled me around the dance floor (b/c he's that good), and I was accutely aware of how pretty my dress looked ;-)

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  5. I love that kind of feeling.

    I remember the first time I heard that Owl City Firefly song I had to hurry home from work, grab my kids and take them to go do whatever they wanted.

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  6. I wish there was a way to hold onto that feeling - that every day is a new adventure, that all things are possible because you've not yet learned that they're not, that summer is a time for playing outside with your friends and not sweating days away in an office.

    Although, I admit that the hubs and I are very in touch with our innner children, as evidenced by our purchases at Wal-Mart last night: Two plastic cups with crazy straw handles. Sometimes we're really only five years old.

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  7. I miss the innocence of childhood. I ran the neighborhood with my siblings and friends without any threats or worries about sex offenders or kidnappers waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

    As a parent, that is always on the forefront of my mind. What kind of danger is lurking where I can't see it. How can I protect my children when I'm not with them?

    I didn't mean to sound so morbid...I just wish that I could let my guard down just a little...like the way things were when I was a kid and the world didn't seem so cruel.

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  8. Awwww - what a lovely post! I guess my overwhelming memory of being a child is feeling complete and uninhibited freedom to be.

    :-)
    Take care
    x

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  9. Also, it helps to have kids of your own. My 3 and 4 year olds were playing with an old snowboard in the backyard yesterday. They were pretending it was a car or magic carpet or some such, and traveled to Candyland on it. :)

    So, like, make with the baby-making, hon. It'll help your writing, I promise.

    (BWAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!!!)

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  10. What I miss most is the time to play. Imagination was key and we had hours of free time to get lost in our made-up worlds. It's probably the reason I write. Now, if only I had that much free time on my hands.

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  11. OH, I miss someone else taking care of ME for a change:)- making my meals, carting me to and from, buying me everything I need. Then again, my parents are probably glad I grew up:)

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  12. I still get a kick out of twirling a dress in public or in my house or wherever I deem it needs to be done. I've kept a little bit of that kid with me but the world seems to be throwing curve balls more than I can dodge them latley. What I miss...I miss all the neighborhood kids and playing in a world that didn't exist but so obviously did. I miss the trouble I got in for being "a kid" because that meant I was doing something fun and awesome in my mind. I miss recess and teather ball championships!!!!

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  13. I love writing about children too. One of the things I love about watching my kid's play sessions is that they are SO creative. They don't limit themselves to playing what they know, they make up new ways to play.

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  14. I miss those things, too. Fortunately I have a daughter, so I can watch her enjoy those moments . . . especially the skirt twirling one. Even when it's -30C, she wants to wear a dress. I want to wear a ski suit. ;)

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  15. I was never a girly-girl as a child, but since having only boys I have become more of one. If I buy pencils and things taht are glittery or pink or jeweled, they don't try and steal it from me. Makes me feel like a little kid all over again.

    Also, Bubble Gum flavored Lip Smacker really makes me feel young again. That smell brings back so many memories!

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  16. Like Jana I have a house full of boys and my only "thing" is to buy purple things, pink/sparkley things. But of course, they steal those things too. And skirts this summer instead of shorts. It took them a while to get used to seeing me in them.

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  17. Favorite memory was always going fishing with Dad. We always had a blast. I loved being a kid, it was a great time. Adolescence was the hard part. Great post. Have a great day.

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  18. I remember chasing fireflies and roasting marshmallows. I remember writing a letter to the Pink Panther (this was before he talked) and being so thrilled that he actually wrote me back and sent me some swag. ;)
    Btw, gorgeous picture of the little girl with bubbles. Who doesn't love bubbles too?

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  19. Being barefoot ALL summer long and lemonade stands with my sisters.

    I miss that.

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  20. The beautiful thing about being mommy to a toddler is that I get to relive childhood over and over, unearthing all of my buried childishness. So fun!

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  21. Another great, great post, #1! I love this. As children's writers it is so important to stay in touch with what's important to kids and YA's. :-)

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  22. Oh, what a great post! Skirt swirling, that was the best!

    I miss waking up on a summer morning, knowing you have no school, throwing on shorts and a T-shirt and running across the dewy grass in bare feet. Ahhhhhhh!

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  23. I miss the flower tiaras, necklaces, and bracelets. I miss the mud pies. I miss the freedom to run without your shoes on. I miss log rolling down hills. I miss gossiping with the girls over the cutest boy at camp. I miss thinking I know absolutely everything. I miss looking forward to getting older!

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  24. This is beautiful and made me long for a childhood I never had. I grew up way too quickly. Circumstances at home were pretty bad. I don't remember ever having that freedom. I always felt too wise for the kids my age, I hated everybody - I was bitter and cynical and miserable.

    It took me hitting absolute rock bottom when I was eighteen and sitting in the same spot for a year with severe depression to finally realize a lot of things about myself and sort out the circumstances and emotions inside of me. How did I do this? I got a bunch of annoying characters in my head who never shut up.

    Eight different parts of my personality became my eight main characters and they didn't leave me alone until I started writing them.

    I pulled myself out of it all by writing, and the last two and a bit years have been amazing. I capture that freedom in my writing, in my characters and it feels so real, it feels like I finally get to experience it.

    And now, that feeling bleeds into my Real Life. I feel free because I'm comfortable with myself. I do silly things, that other people are afraid to do, that seem childish - the funny thing about this? Is that people, who know me, call me crazy. But it's not in a mean way, they say it with a smile and ask me how I can be so free about those types of things.

    ....

    Okay wow. I didn't really mean to dump on you or anything, your post just really made me think. So thank you. And sorry for this ridiculously long comment!

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  25. Sadly I have a pretty terrible memory of my childhood. And the childhood was wonderful so it would be nice to remember more.

    Thankfully I'm surrounded by kids on a daily basis at my job :)

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  26. Hi Shannon. I found you from Query Tracker and "they" told me I was crazy not to follow your blog, so here I am. Congrats on Laura. I met her and she seems like a nice person and a great agent.
    ps:love the bubble pic

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Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Friendly debate is fine, but always be kind to each other). <3