Monday, February 25, 2008


"He felt that his whole life was some kind of dream and he sometimes wondered whose it was and whether they were enjoying it." ~~Douglas Adams from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

Writers are an odd breed. We spend our lives immersed in a dream world, a universe where we call the shots. Real life can seem like a pesky intrusion, and often, as the writing fervor grips us, we may lose track of exactly who is writing whom.

"Dreams are . . . illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you." --Marsha Norman

We become fascinated with the mundane. Curious about the craziest things. Our lives are dominated by two words: What If? As a result, our minds are prone to wander and eyes may glaze as we turn away from what non-writers call Real Life and enter the world we know so well.

"I dream for a living." -- Steven Spielberg

Truly, such a venture sounds heavenly. Which is why so many strangers sigh and comment, "I've always wanted to write."

It is a dream come true. Except even writers must awaken now and again. Truth is, as much fun as it is (yes, it IS like living in our own personal Disneyland), the work involved and the pressure we put on ourselves can make blood vessels burst.

"A writer's problem does not change. He himself changes and the world he lives in changes but his problem remains the same. It is always how to write truly and having found what is true, to project it in such a way that it becomes a part of the experience of the person who reads it." --Ernest Hemingway

The pictures in our head are so vivid and clear. Yet the process of wrangling them into words is as easy as tossing a rope around a bolt of lightning and dragging it down to earth.

Dream-wranglers is what we are. Herding those crazy ideas onto the paper and with patience and persistence, coaxing out the story we know to be there. Easy, right?

"The profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid and stable business." --John Steinbeck.

True enough, this is one crazy business. While most non-writers see writing as doing nothing but playing with words all day (and even as I type this, a grin sneaks up my face because it is damn fun), the work can be draining. Add to that the pressure of trying to get published, trying to stay published, pleasing an audience or hoping for a good review, meeting deadlines and tackling promotional duties, and the "fun" gets overwhelmed by the work. Hey, even chocolate-tasters need a break!

"The ability to play is essential to being a creative artist." --Dewitt Jones

Writers need to play. Without that childlike ability, we're doomed to a life of dull prose so dry that our readers will be in serious need of hydration. However, it's not just the ability to play that matters. There's a serious need here to incorporate R&R into our routine. Why?

The first is the "Duh Factor." If you're too burnt out to work, your writing will suffer. The second is less obvious but just as vital. Playing refuels the flame, which in turn inspires us with new ideas and devious plot twists.

Just today, I thought to myself that maybe I should spend the weekend writing, instead of delving into music with dear hubby as we planned. Which is when my muse whispered a contrary opinion. *heh-heh* The playful times inspire me. I feel more refreshed, more energized, and infinitely more ready to jump back into my writing as a result.

"Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn't taste good." --Lucia Capocchione

Ah, yes. We do want life to "taste" like chocolate all the time, right? And especially our writing. Yum-yum. We can be so driven that we feel guilty for those occasional moments when we yearn to break free of the routine. Then again… who knows what ideas might spring up while playing a game with your child or catching the latest flick with a dear chum? What troublesome plot point might be resolved when you give your weary brain a rest and let the muse step forth once more? Do remember to bring your handy purse-sized notebook along to jot down those lightning bolts when they strike!

Play keeps us revitalized and helps us to remember we are truly alive, and awake. How better to make those stories come to life than to remind ourselves now and then to wake up out of our dream world and jump feet first into real life?

"Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake." –Edgar Allen Poe

So, along with our constant desire to keep writing, let's also encourage a slightly different angle:

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." --George Bernard Shaw

"The world is your playground. Why aren't you playing?" --Ellie Katz

And one of my all-time favorites, from a man who demonstrated the fine art of playing throughout his life:

"Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana." –Groucho Marx

Let's embrace the dream and reap the benefits of play. Here's wishing us all a playful and productive week!



Anonymous said...

Hi Chiron,

I love to play, and you're so right that you have to get out and live life in order to write.


Chiron O'Keefe said...

Hey Sandy!

Play is like fuel for the inner fire, eh?

Thanks for stopping by...


Anonymous said...

I love the way you intersperse quotations with your writing. I feel more light hearted after reading your blog, and I appreciate the reminder to play.
thanks for sharing your writing.
love, Cathy

Chiron O'Keefe said...

Wonderful Cathy,

What a lovely comment. Thanks so very much! You make my heart sing...

Smiles to you,