What Does Childhood Taste Like?
Way back in the days of yesteryear when big hair bands ruled the rock scene, and stirrup pants, legwarmers and neon jelly bracelets were a popular part of women’s fashion, I was browsing in my local Newscenter and happened upon a creativity workbook called “What Does Childhood Taste Like?” The title intrigued me and, when the author, Jack Maguire, promised “mental workouts that will stretch, bend, and energize the way you think, respond, dream and create,” I knew I couldn’t leave without purchasing it. Three decades later, I still pull out that book and engage in an exercise or two.
I know many writers (including myself) who have tricks and rituals they employ for stimulating their muse. As silly as it sounds, I keep a dozen polished stones strewn under my computer screen that I fiddle with when I’m stuck on a sentence. Remember rock tumblers? There’s something about a rainbow of smooth, colorful stones that resonates with my creative side. Other times, I play an instrumental CD in the background (usually lilting flutes, strings or piano) and, still other times, my muse requires complete silence. I’ve come to recognize what she needs when she needs it, and react accordingly. When I do, and we’re in sync, good things happen. There are, however, occasions when I degenerate into a hissy fit because a particular scene or story isn’t flowing. During those times, I picture my muse as a pouting prima donna who needs to be coaxed. Thankfully, those moments are fairly rare.
Like me, my muse has a fondness for the past – - old photos, fond memories and long-ago dreams conjured from summer afternoons when childhood tasted like bubblegum, smelled of sweet clover, and felt like the splash of cool pool water on sun-warmed skin.
Looking back, I realize much about my writing life has remained the same. I’m still crafting stories, characters and worlds. I still poke around in that old workbook, and I still love recalling the tastes, sights, scents and feel of childhood. My muse has matured with me, my partner through the journey, but there’s a part of me (undoubtedly, of all writers) that never grew up. It thrives on make-believe and what-if possibilities. The only way to appease that part is to create worlds and characters who populate them. The same as I did in childhood.
So . . . I ask you . . . what DOES childhood taste like? Even if you’re not a writer, take a moment to associate an abstract idea and share your comment. If you prefer, you can choose to answer what does childhood sound like? Smell like? Feel like? The idea is to close your eyes, forget the present, and recall the magic you felt as a child. What made you happy? What made you smile or gave you the shivers?
I’m toying with the idea of posting a similar exercise each Monday or Tuesday for those interested in giving it a try. Even non-writers can benefit from mental stimulation, creative thinking and, heck – - some out-of-the-box fun!