You know what the great thing is about being an adult? You don’t have to ask anyone else’s permission to play. You know what one of the worst things is about being an adult? You feel like you have to give yourself permission to play.
Let me help you.
You have permission to play!
There. Now if your underwear catches on fire, or your house sinks into the ocean, you can blame it on me. If it means that you got to spend a few moments with a mind free of worry, and an imagination free to soar, then I count it a victory!
First, an examination:
Let’s look at a word. This is a really great word if you look at it from the write angle (no I didn’t perform a grammatical sin just now. That was called a “play” on words). The word I am speaking of is “silly.” Just how are we accustomed to using the word silly? I suppose we probably use it how the dictionary defines it. Here is the ugly un-playful definition to the word silly:
Having or showing a lack of common sense or judgment; absurd and foolish.
That definition, I imagine, was thought up in a dark and musty, old and dusty sitting room full of leather chairs, and straight-backed gentlemen who nod their heads at one another gravely while drinking hundred-year-old cognac.
I propose a different definition to silly:
Representing thinking that is outside of the norm. See also, fresh, beautiful, innovative, fun.
Therefore, you have permission not only to play, but you must also be silly.
Let us practice.
Imagine you are on a lonely rural highway right around dusk. Up ahead, in the distance, a large and foreboding silhouette rises ominously from the horizon. Now the straight-backed cognac man would assume that this silhouette is simply that of a mountain, or a copse of trees.
He would be wrong.
In fact, what this silhouette is, is a ship. Not a space ship, or a cargo ship. It is an airship. Made entirely of the remains of partly eaten doughnuts. Sentient doughnuts. Who have taken it upon themselves to travel the world in search of the individuals that discarded them, to make them finish the job. But they need a navigator. You (the protagonist) are the only person in the world who could navigate such a ship. Why? Because you, sir or madame, have embraced the true meaning of “silly.”
The dusty straight-backed men would see such a ship and say “poppycock!” or “Flibbertigibbet!” or whatever it is that rigid and rusty men are inclined to say at such moments.
You, however, are not such a person, and when a long faced and defeated half-eaten doughnut man sidles up to you as you gas up your car, you don’t question your sanity. When said doughnut man pleads with you to navigate their airship, you don’t need REASONS. You simply say, “Let’s ride!”
Suppose for a moment that someone has the following idea for a story:
What if a middle-aged man who is obsessed with the chivalrous ideals written about in his favorite books, decides to take up his lance and sword to defend the helpless and destroy the wicked? What if sometimes he tilts at (jousts with) windmills?
What if the writer rejected that idea as silly? Then we would have been denied one of the most influential works of fiction ever written in Don Quixote.
How about another:
What if a 200-year-old human is recruited by a two-headed alien named Nessus to join him, a catlike alien named Speaker, and a lucky human named Teela Brown to explore an alien artifact? What if they find a Ringworld, a ribbon millions of miles long built around a distant star?
Say What?! That’s just too crazy! It will never work! Well, it did work. It was the first of a spectacular and beloved Sci-fi series by Larry Niven.
Ok. How about this last one. This one happens to be my favorite book:
What if a Fireman’s job is not to put out fires, but to start them? What if their job was to burn books, because books are illegal? What if one fireman keeps a book in secret? What if another Fireman finds out?
That is the plot to Fahrenheit 451, a classic novel that I have read three times, and that I will continue to revisit throughout my life because I love it so much!
All of these authors gave themselves permission to play. They formed their “silly” ideas, and then explored them to their conclusions. Guess what? You can do that too! You want to know why? Because the blank screen in front of you is actually the gateway to a world populated with anything and everything you can think of. You can go there. You can experiment. You can play. You can throw paint and see what sticks.
The only thing judging the inhabitants of the world you create is your inner critic. It’s good to look at your stories with a critical eye…once they have been drafted. But in the moments of pure creation, I challenge you to silence the judge. Don’t even invite them to the party. Let him or her stay home and drink their cognac. Tilt at windmills my friends! You have been given an imagination. Take it out of its box, blow off the dust, wipe off the rust, kick it around if you must. Press the cherry red button that says in big bold letters (probably in Times New Roman font), “ADULTS: DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCE PRESS THIS BUTTON! KIDS ONLY!”
I think some people have the tendency to characterize this as something it isn’t. This isn’t letting the “kid” in you out to play. You are an adult. You have an electric bill after all. No. This is reminding the adult in you, that to play is good. To play is healthy. To play, is joy. So, are you ready?
Hey! I have a great idea! You made it this far, so you must love to read! You should check out my novel Descendants of Hope. It is available here. I promise that it has nothing to do with sentient doughnuts.