The Little Red Typewriter

Following, is a special memory and story for me, one that makes up the intricate tapestry of my creative self. And I’m wondering if you have any similar memories like this.

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Do you believe that kids often know what they’re supposed to do in the world from a very young age? In my case, I think I did. I have a very strong memory from when I was around three years of age, the timing of which my mother was able to verify based on where I described we were living at the time.

photo-3On this particular day, my parents took my sister and me out shopping and we ended up in a toy store. I wandered around and was interested in many things, including a plaster of Paris kit, with figurines of Paddington Bear. But then, I saw a little red typewriter. I was struck with an all-encompassing need to have that typewriter. Soon after, my parents announced it was time to go. I began to cry, real tears of utter pain that I would be leaving without that typewriter.

‘What’s wrong?’ my mother asked, kindly. But I couldn’t articulate what the problem was. I’m not sure I even had a clear idea of what a typewriter did, yet I knew for some reason I desperately wanted it.

‘Do you want the typewriter?’ Mum asked, clearly confused. Then, ‘Or do you want the Paddington Bear kit?’

Now, here is where it got interesting. I can’t remember for exactly what reason–whether it was because I knew the typewriter was expensive, or whether it was because I didn’t think it was reasonable that a three-year-old should want a typewriter (I remember thinking both of those things, but am not sure which argument won out)–I pointed to the Paddington Bear kit and said yes I wanted that.

We took it home and I remember spending many happy hours out in the backyard under the trees making and painting those plaster moulds. I did love it.

But what my heart and soul really wanted that day was the typewriter.

For some completely inexplicable reason, I knew that I was here to create stories and bring them into the world, and at that time the way you did that was on a typewriter.

I was telling my mother this story on the phone recently and I choked up. The pain of leaving that typewriter behind was a strong as it had been when I was three. So when I hung up the phone, I searched ebay to see if there might be a similar one out there. And there was ONE. Just one. Sitting there for sale in England. So I bought it. And now it sits beside my laptop in my writing room and reminds my inner child (and therefore my inner artist) that I am a writer. That I’ve always been a writer. That I deserve to be a writer. That I hear that calling and I acknowledge it. My mission in life is there as a very real, tangible object–a realised dream.

If you’re a creator of any kind, I’m wondering if you have any memories like this? Or if you have any symbols around you  in your space that affirm your dreams? Or have you noticed something like this in your own children? I’d love to hear these if you do.

Reclaiming Your Inner Artist

Me, in the middle in blue, participating in a public drumming performance, roughly ten years ago.

Me, in the middle in blue, participating in a public drumming performance, roughly ten years ago.

Ever had that moment when you suddenly think, ‘Far out! What happened to me?’

You’re wondering where your ‘life’ went. You’re wondering where the real YOU went?

I’ve had those moments, many times, such as when I realised I couldn’t lead the life in the corporate world any more. And most recently, when I declared to my husband across the kitchen sink, ‘I’m an artist without any art!’ like it was a national crisis.

A tad melodramatic, sure. But this is what our inner artists do. We ALL have an inner artist and if we don’t pay attention to them, they will start shouting at us louder and louder until we listen to them and do what they want… which is to feed, nurture and love them. (Think of your inner artist as a toddler or a dog and you’re pretty much on the money.) To the inner artist, having no art in my life WAS a crisis, akin to a lack of oxygen. My husband (quite used to me by now) merely said, ‘Well you need to go out and find some.’

So I did. I reclaimed a part of myself that’s been sad for more than 9 years, which was when I stopped going to African drumming classes. The reasons I stopped going were all very logical–we moved inland to ‘the bush’ and I simply had no access to a drumming circle. Then we moved to the Sunshine Coast last year (for the very reason of accessing artistic and lifestyle goodness) but now having a toddler and big, conflicting work schedules for both my husband and me, it just didn’t happen.

But finally, it has. And it felt GOOOOOD. Oh man, my soul (my inner artist) was so, so happy and has been all day today and especially so while I was working on my latest manuscript.

I'm in there!

I’m in there!

It is the central tenant of being an artist that we must

FILL THE WELL BEFORE WE DRAW FROM IT.

In other words, we cannot make art (in my case, novels) if we aren’t first nourishing ourselves with the sights, sounds and experiences we need to then be able to draw from.

Our inner artists are constantly telling us what they want; it’s just that we don’t always listen. That moment when you think, where did my life go, is just a call to action to change something, to make a minor adjustment in the course this ship is sailing.

What’s yours saying?

 

Nurturing the Artist Child Within

This weekend, my inner child was horribly disappointed. We’d planned our first party for our eight-month-old baby — a ‘bush welcoming’ under the enormous fig trees on our new property for over forty people. I’d planned a time capsule, face painting, bubbles, rope swings in the trees, a barbecue, play equipment, icy poles and more. My sister had baked cupcakes with wee frog pictures on top and made lanterns for the trees. I’d ordered a helium balloon in the shape of a frog prince.

Children at 'work'

Children at ‘work’

And then it rained. And rained, and rained and rained. Large parts of Queensland are flooded right now. Our new property (still a virtual construction site while we’re renovating) was running rivers of water and mud. We had to cancel. And I was somewhat heartbroken. Wondering why I was teary, it suddenly struck me that my inner child was heartbroken.

If you follow my writing, you’ll know how much I adore Julia Cameron’s wise words from her internationally bestselling book, The Artist’s Way. And you’ll know that her sage observation of we creative types is that our inner artist is a child, and to get the most out of our inner artist child we need to let her play. ‘Our artist child can best be enticed to work by treating work at play,’ she says (The Artist’s Way). Turning up to ‘work’ has ‘more to do with a child’s love of secret adventure than with ironclad discipline’.

So my inner artist was very sad to not have my face painted like a fairy, or to swing from the trees, or blow bubbles through the air.

But the only compensation for an injured heart is to offer more love and fun. So hubby and I packed up our lovely bubba man and drove to an even tinier town than ours (Moore) to visit an art show in the local hall with entry by gold donation. We wandered the many aisles marvelling at people’s creativity (the way someone could get so much expression into a tiger’s face, or the many uses of teabag tags), allowing our brains to stretch and grow while bubba man crawled and shuffled on the timber floor and tried to pull down the temporary display stands. Then we had ice cream. All while the rain drummed and drummed on the roof.

My inner artist was mollified. I’d had fun. I’d had a small adventure. I’d seen totally new things and thought of totally new ideas.

It’s what we must do as artists, to always seek a new adventure.