Monday, August 16, 2010

The Binky Fairy

Max, my four-year-old son, dictated a note to the Binky Fairy, imagining the places she (or he, I don’t know) might take his binkies, now that he was a big boy and no longer needed them. Babies in the jungle. Clown babies. His note was specific and far-reaching and troubling. Every time I see one of my children exhibit creative skills – every time someone shows me a great piece of writing from any young person – I get a tiny ping of dread. For them.
Yes, unbridled imagination is great. But, you know, doesn’t every parent want the easiest possible path for their children? A strong imagination never leads to the downhill-all-the-way road. There are easier ways to make a living than by thinking things up. I know. I’ve tried them. I’m not complaining about being a writer. It’s kind of a choice I’ve made (kind of a compulsive disorder) so I never curry condolences. In fact, because I enjoy writing, it took me a while to pinpoint the source of my ping of dread.

Rejection. Nobody wants to subject anybody they like to the waves of rejection that crash against any creative process in a constant cold and salty assault. You face those that don’t like your stuff because it’s not that good, those that hate it because it is, others for whom you are simply not their cup of tea and still others with no taste at all. It’s daunting and I wish for my kids to escape it all, in whatever they choose to do. I wish for them a life of fair exchange. A binky for a plastic robot. Straight up and done while they’re asleep. Of course, that kind of fairy-filled world takes a tremendous leap of imagination . . . and I’m back where I started. Crap.

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