Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gleeful Destruction

Something happened to me this past week. I became the mother of a one-year-old. It just sort of happened, which I suppose is how these things work, but I'm still a little stunned. All of a sudden BOOM! One.

I mean, I'm used to a big boss fight before a level up. You gear up and gear up and then fight for your life to earn that level. I know, I earned this badge with every diaper changed and grubby hand cleaned. Still, this particular level up was a bit anti-climactic.

Though that might have been due to the fact that our entire household came down with the cold of doom a day before the birthday. We had to postpone his party and spent the day taking turns passed out on the couch. Maybe I'll feel a little less off-kilter once we're finally all well enough to celebrate properly.

It's been quite the year, and I've done my share of reminiscing this week. Babies change so much in the first year. They're constantly learning--how to walk, how to talk, how to get away with everything under the sun... It's kind of funny the order that they learn things in, though. You'd think "Ow, that hurt. Maybe I should be more careful next time," would be a pretty nifty lesson to have in hand, but apparently it's less important than "I can stick my toes in my mouth!"

Another lesson that has yet to be learned: that things can't always be fixed when they're broken. There's no concept of permanent damage. My son recently picked a flower to play with, and then a few minutes later he tried to return it to its stalk. He was pretty unfazed by the fact that it didn't work. After all, there's a lot he doesn't have the dexterity for yet, and most of the time after a few tries he gets bored and does something else.

One of the results of this knowledge gap is that there's nothing to impede his joy of destruction. Those of us who do know better can't escape a warning going off in our minds before we pick the flower, or put the paper through the shredder, or smash a glass on the concrete. We know that what we're doing can't be undone. And that's a good thing! Can you imagine going through life without that hesitation?

And yet, I think there's something to be learned from the gleeful destruction of a child. My son simply loves knocking down towers of blocks. He approaches his task with abandon and gives it his all. He really goes for the total destruction.

I should be more like that with my work. I mean, obviously not when doing the dishes or driving around doing errands. But my writing could use a little more destruction. I hesitate too much before committing to chaos. The same hesitation that protects me in real life hampers me in my drafts.

But what if I can't put it back the way it was!

That's the beauty of writing, though. It can always be rewritten. So why not try, just to see what happens? Turn up the chaos, see where it goes. Future drafts can always dial down the destruction.

So that's one of my goals this year (you know, in addition to keeping the boy alive all year). Do you have any new writing goals lately?


  1. Believe me, the second year is even more eventful! :-)

    1. I'm looking forward to it! The older he gets, the more fun we have.