This week I am sharing quotes from a book I've been enjoying called Rumors of Water.
Here's the third one:
"My girls have been writing since they were very little. 'You just wrote for two hours,' I would say to them, after they'd been doing what they call playing story. This puzzled them at first. Most kids they knew were writing according to assignments, struggling to put things they didn't care about on paper.
'We didn't do any writing,' my girls would say.
'Yes you did,' I'd say back. 'Playing story is composing. Composing with words is writing, whether or not you put it on paper.'"
I don't think I'll ever think about my kids playtime the same way. My youngest will go upstairs in our bonus room and disappear for hours, playing story. Her stories are long and involved and she hates very much to have them interrupted by pesky things like leaving the house or cleaning up or having dinner. But she knows the story is always there waiting to be told, waiting to be expanded upon when she's done eating or shopping or picking up her shoes.
As a child I played story all the time. I could've cared less about the clothes the dolls had on. I didn't care how their hair was fixed. Those dolls were there to enact the stories that lived inside me. My Barbies had dramas that unfolded for days in multiple settings that might involved my bed, my front porch and my bathroom sink all in one day. Of course I had no idea that I was cutting my writing teeth at the same time, learning the elements of story (plot, turning point, setting, point of view, dialogue) as I played. I got myself to sleep by telling myself bedtime stories, thinking up character names and dreaming up families and the things they would face together.
It's not far off from what I do now. I just don't have dolls on hand anymore. But I'm thinking that might be helpful.
Let your kids play story. And don't shy away from those stories that play out in your own head. Maybe today you compose in your mind and tomorrow you actually put words on paper.
It could happen.