I’ve always dreamed very vividly, and in story. As a child, I was an insomniac, mid-cycle onset. I’d wake at two or three in the morning and rehearse my dreams until I went back to sleep. Either that, or tell myself new stories if it wasn’t a dream that woke me. I told my dream-stories and nightdreams (as opposed to daydreams) to my best friend, Margaret, at lunch and recess. I dreamed about characters and settings from my favourite television shows and movies: G-Force and Star Wars mostly.
Resources for dreaming and creativity:
I was also big into comics at the time. Not the typical ones. I wasn’t fond of the male heroes, and instinctively disliked the groups, in which the women were neither strong, nor independent. I gravitated toward Wonder Woman, Huntress, Batgirl, and other solo heroines.
Unfortunately, my waking daydreams were also populated by Greg Evigan from “BJ and the Bear,” and Shawn Cassidy from “The Hardy Boys Mysteries.” For better or worse, Margaret shared in all of that too, and was a regular reader of my stories.
Though I was a huge “Doctor Who” fan, Tom Baker never made it into my dreams, go figure. More recently though, David Tenant’s made the short-list 🙂
I read C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Madeline L’Engle, Zylpha Keatley Snider, and even checked out Pierre Burton‘s The World of Og. Joan Aiken, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, Lois Duncan, and Joan Lowery Nixon joined the list soon after.
Grade six was a rough patch. Though I’d auditioned and made it into the choir, which was great because I liked to sing, the practices were after school, and one day, I was in an unfortunate situation. **Those of delicate constitution may want to skip this next part.** I’d gotten my period, always painful and heavy, even then. Feeling like crap, and on the verge of bleeding through my clothes, I needed to go home.
My teacher came out into the hall where I was at my locker, preparing to leave, while other students walked the halls and the rest of the choir waited in the room, right next to me, and asked me what I was doing. “Going home,” I said. With increased volume, she asked me why. I tried to tell her that my mom needed me at home. I wasn’t about to tell her, and everyone else, the real reason. She berated me for my fickle loyalties and tried to bully me into staying. I committed to the choir and that meant that I had to be at every practice. Did I want to be a part of the choir, or not? Cornered like that, I had no choice. I quit. Once again, I was left out of the performance, and the choir, for the rest of the year.
Though I was terribly upset, there was no going back. I would not be allowed to explain the situation in private. That wasn’t my teacher’s style. I wasn’t about to reveal my shame to the class, and wasn’t going to ask my parents to intervene for the same reason. So I remained embittered for the year. It was my own fault. I hadn’t learned the trick of standing up for myself yet. At the time though, it felt like persecution.
It was another low point on the teacher graph for me.
That same year, someone I thought of as a friend asked to read my stories, and flattered, I consented. She used an entire bottle of Liquid Paper to obliterate my words.
Another guardian, another lesson: even your friends can’t be trusted.
As you can see, I identify with the hero/heroine’s journey, writer’s journey, or whatever else you’d like to call it. My guardians have been the defining, or crisis, moments in my creative development. In that respect, I’m a slow learner. It took me years to realize that what these people did to me, or to my work, had nothing to do with its value or my own. I let those formative lessons inform my inner critic (the worst guardian of them all) and it told me that I was worthless. I believed it for far too long.
So again, I will ask you to share guardian experiences. Who has put a roadblock in your creative path? What lessons did you learn? Did you find a way to overcome your guardians?