Play Time

I read Stephen King's On Writing three years ago for AP Language & Composition. Although I'm not a fan of his books (life is scary enough), this one was written "on writing"- something I can connect with. It's probably the single most important advice I've been given in regards to the art, but recently I've taken something else from it.

In Writing the Short Story class, my teacher has referenced sections for us to ponder and apply to our stories. Although I remember (and use) much of King's advice, it's only the advice on grammar and the way of writing that has stayed with me. During my last class, my teacher read a section on talent- and from that I had an epiphany.

"There was never going to be any play-time; it was all going to be rehearsal" (144).

Wow. This hit me. The section was on his son's failed attempt in learning to play the saxophone, which reminded me of my own trials trying to develop a skill I was not meant to have. (I recalled trying to sing, paint, draw, etc.) These thoughts led my mind to the image of a guitar sitting in the corner of my room. Before entering high school I purchased a super nice Big Baby Taylor acoustic guitar, because- for some reason- I wanted to be like my brother (go figure). He drooled over my it, the first purchase I made with my new income from Polly's.

I was so excited to learn how to play. I watched and listened to his improvements over the years, and was asked to photograph his bands. It all seemed so glamorous to me. When I began taking lessons it was difficult to find the time to practice. And when I did, that's all I was doing. Rehearsing. When I began high school and decided to graduate early, there was even less. Therefore I quit my lessons and loaned the guitar to DD (yep, my brother- real name is Dave but I've managed to have every one of his friends refer to him as DD, so don't ruin this for me!). Overall, he's played it more than I. What I discovered from this incident is that I was never going to take off and play.

That there is DD. With my guitar.

It's different when I write. It's also different when I take pictures. Although I've improved much over the years, I have that predisposition- that talent- for writing and photography. Because of that, when I write it is play-time. It's different with my brother. His play-time- and talent- is guitar. King writes, "Talent renders the whole idea of rehearsal meaningless; when you find something at which you are talented, you do it (whatever it is)..." (145). This leaves more time for fun. So I followed his advice and "[went] on to some other area, where the deposits of talent may be richer and the fun quotient higher" (144-145). Thus I've been spending more time typing and behind the lens.

Much better!
(Rodeo & Co Photography)

But it wasn't until my teacher read this excerpt that I was able to fully move on from the experience. The guitar was still sitting in my corner, waiting to play music. The paints were in my drawer, waiting to create a masterpiece. Therefore, I decided to change that. (Also because I love to clean-out.) I donated my paints and sheet music to the thrift store and offered to sell my guitar to DD. Someone with talent in these areas should be using the tools I've been hoarding.

And so I have been released from the thoughts of "in the future, I'll try again" with "in the now, I'm going to do what I love, what I am good at". And as King wrote, "Even if no one is listening (or reading, or watching), every outing is a bravura performance, because you as the creator are happy" (145). I don't know if anyone reads this blog, but when I add to it, I'm happy.

Maybe he's trying to be like me?

My mom e-mailed me a quote (we maintain the best of correspondence when we're at work) and it couldn't have come at a better time: "If you have a talent, use it in every which way possible. Don't hoard it. Don't dole it out like a miser. Spend it lavishly like a millionaire intent on going broke." ~Brendan Francis

From this day forth, I intent to play.