When life lands you up in situations where it is impossible to express your emotions, what do you do? When thousands of insane ideas tumble around in your mind, gasping to be let out, what do you do? When a streak of sudden, unintentional creativity serves you up with a beautiful story, what do you do?
My mind muddles up when I think about all the wonderful ways in which people can express their feelings. Tell their story. Or someone else’s. Create something of their own. From nothing. To everything.
I was nine years old when I read my first story book. At least the one I distinctly remember. I vaguely recall losing myself in my fairy tale books before that. Mostly Little Red Riding Hood. Of which I had at least three different versions. In one version, the Big Bad Wolf eats Grandma and then Red Riding Hood and then the Hunter cuts open the Wolf’s belly and the grandmother and granddaughter tumble out alive. In another version, the hunter kills the Wolf but no one tumbles out alive. In the third version, the Grandma runs away before the Wolf can kill her and remembering the fact that Red Riding Hood was on her way to the cottage and was, hence, in danger, Grandma grabs a stick and runs back just in time to save her granddaughter by beating the Wolf up quite heroically.
These different versions of the same tale made me ponder on the art of storytelling. How wonderful would it be, I thought, if I could come up with my own version of Little Red Riding Hood? I believe I did come up with my take on the famous tale but if I did, I don’t recall it since I never wrote it down.
When I turned nine, I lost myself to the bone chilling world of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. Those books are still my most prized possessions. Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, haunted houses, haunted masks, demonic dummies. They refused to let me sleep at night. I used to snuggle up deep under the covers, clutching my favorite stuffed toy as if holding on to life itself. In the darkness of my room at night, I would imagine spirits, evil clowns and demonic polar bears creeping around my room. Yes. Demonic polar bears. I was a crazy child.
With such an overactive imagination, it should not have been a surprise to people when, at age 11, I wrote my first horror story. With bad handwriting, awful spelling and horrendous grammar. But no one seemed to mind all that. Whoever read my story liked it enough to encourage me to continue writing. Maybe they were just being polite. Maybe they didn’t want to hurt my feelings. But then, again, maybe it wasn’t so bad after all.
I started writing fan fiction that very same year. And I’m not ashamed to admit that it was a melodramatic, soppy take on Twilight. I used to be very conscious of my story a few years ago because of all the criticism the original books and movies got, but nothing can put down an 11-year-old’s innocent attempt at writing a story, no matter how strange the inspiration for it may be. And after all, even Twilight’s weirdness can’t beat evil polar bears.
After that, I surrendered myself to the world of books, movies and TV shows, each of which inspired another story in my mind. Notebooks upon notebooks of incomplete fan fiction later, here I am. Finally attempting to share my stories with the world. And I promise not to leave these incomplete. I think I’m past that stage now.
For I have realized the importance of indulging your creative side. I have stopped trying to make my stories more realistic and less dramatic because where’s the fun in that? I love exaggeration. I love how it can provide comic relief in some places and break a reader’s heart in others.
Yes, I am a melodramatic person. But I’m sure I’m not the only one. And even if I am, oh well, let me be the first. My creative side listens to a lot of sentimental songs, reads a lot of typical romances and writes a lot of unbelievable stories. That side dances on top of tables in crowded classrooms, sings tone-deaf at the top of her lungs and is never afraid to laugh at herself. I may be crazy, sure. But at least I make my friends laugh.
I don’t have any great advice to give to you all. And neither do I believe in ‘A story with a moral’. But I would like to urge you not to resist your creative streaks. And most importantly, not to compare yourself with anyone else. Everyone is creative. What makes us all unique is the way we express that creativity. You may mesmerize people with a tidal wave of your emotions by dancing, singing, writing or painting. You may create buildings from your imagination, experiment with different flavors that have never been used together until now or design new kinds of clothes. You may be a doctor, an engineer, a lawyer or maybe just a stay-at-home Mom or Dad.
But no matter what your profession or status, you ARE creative. In your own way. It does not matter if others can see that creativity or not. What really matters is that YOU appreciate it. Don’t be afraid of being yourself. Don’t be afraid of standing out from everyone else. Don’t be afraid to shine. Because when you do let that inner craziness out into the open, when you embrace your own uniqueness, that’s when you will emerge as the star of your own world. A star who will continue to emanate light long after the fight is over.
And then, who knows, maybe even the idea of demonic polar bears or a vampire and human having a happily ever after with their half human-half vampire child will not seem all that strange to you.