I have to be honest with you.
I think the word “idea” is a little grand.
And by grand, I mean daunting.
An idea is a huge thing, right?
It requires freshness and originality, it encompasses possibility, it is—not to get all god-like here, but—the beginning of everything!
Meanwhile, we’re always being told, “There are no new ideas!”
Poet Audre Lord said, “There are no new ideas. There are only new ways of making them felt.” And there are all those books and lectures that tell us there are only about seven plots available on the whole entire planet. And you guys. There is even a web site called “no new ideas” and it is just a blank page!
So. Phew. That’s out of the way.
No new ideas.
We can’t find what isn’t there.
But, this puts us PiBoIdMo folks in a bit of bind, doesn’t it?
What are we supposed to do for the rest of the month?
Well, personally, I think we should try for something smaller.
Not a whole new idea everyday—just a new perspective.
(And, guess what? The Greek origin of the word idea is idein, which means “to see”! Which means I’ve got support from ancient sages here, so let’s go with it.)
What if all we need is a new way of looking at things?
And what if that way is a child-like way?
A child, said author Olive Schreiner, “sees everything, looks straight at it, examines it, without any preconceived idea.”
Have you ever noticed what kids want to do when they’re riding a down escalator? They want to run up it!
Kids don’t look at things as if they’re static or rule-based or already defined. Surprise and experimentation are everyday affairs. Freshness and originality and possibility—all those things I found so daunting above? Ha. Child’s play.
And children, you’ll remember, are our audience.
So, what if we look straight at life today and examine it?
What if we let our preconceptions slip away and see things as children see things?
What if we imagine that socks are pockets (A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes) or that the whole wide world could fit in a book (All the World) or that a worm and a bird could be best friends (Noodle & Lou)?
What if look around, each of us, at the animals in our houses and yards, the food on our tables, the books on our bedside tables, and we just plain see them in a new way? That’s all I’m going to do today, and you should join me. We’ll leave the grand and daunting to someone else…
(And now for the party favors!)
And then this fine bit of musing by artist Austin Kleon:
(Scroll and read all the way through it. It’s worth it. Especially that very last section. I think he might’ve stuck it in just for picture book authors, don’t you?)
Liz Garton Scanlon is the author of the highly-acclaimed, Caldecott-honored picture book ALL THE WORLD, illustrated by Marla Frazee, as well as NOODLE & LOU, illustrated by Arthur Howard, and A SOCK IS A POCKET FOR YOUR TOES, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. Forthcoming books include THINK BIG, illustrated by Vanessa Newton; HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BUNNY, illustrated by Stephanie Graegin; and others. Liz is an assistant professor of creative writing at Austin Community College and the mother of two daughters. To learn more, visit her web site at LizGartonScanlon.com.
Liz is giving away a signed copy of the award-winning ALL THE WORLD! Leave a comment to enter and a winner will be randomly selected one week from today.