This is the internet. It is a playground. Play.

Anything you write here will disappear within a day or two.

The very very best words here have the shelf life expectancy of cottage cheese.

Write what you want to. Write something stupid. Write something ugly. Say what you think. Nobody cares, except maybe your mother, and she isn’t here. Or maybe she is, with a fake name. Maybe your mother is Chi Chi, and named after her favorite drink.

Some people will like your words, some will not.

It only matters if they buy your book. Then, your publisher will give you thirty cents. You may buy a candy bar. If this happens a few thousand times, you may buy a new pair of Jimmy Choos. Mine are silver brocade, with little filigree buckles on the ankle straps. They don’t match anything.

Don’t tell me I’m being silly and wasting my time. You have been overruled by my shoes.

In Spoon River Anthology, a dead person says this:

Suppose I have seen and heard

what you have never heard

and have no words for?

Then I must talk nonsense

when you ask me what it is I see.

The stupidest and most damaging thing you can do to your voice is to be afraid, and to frown at playing.

Play play play. If you don’t, you will never discover new things. Children learn by playing. Children know many things. They see everything with new eyes. This is also the first and most important task of writing. Everyone has looked at the stars. Stars twinkle. Boring. Trite.

Children look at the stars, and see something new. They think that perhaps stars might fall into their hands, or into the sea, and what would that look like. They wonder if they could replace a light bulb with a star. They wonder if they can fall up, and take a closer look.

These are all real questions children have asked me. I’m a good mother. The answer I gave to all these questions was Yes. Yes, close your eyes and fall up.

A child can learn an entire new language, and all the structure and subtleties in about a year and a half. Fact. Truth. We can’t.

Sean is seven years old. Do you think he is being silly when he says this? Do you think this is meaningless nonsense or pifflepaffle or gobbledygook, or any of the other condescending words that have been thrown around here? I don’t.

Do you think playing and silliness is a waste of time? I don’t. It is liberating. It is part of the process of becoming a child. It will free your voice. It will free your mind.

I live with a seven year old. He is writing a comic book. There is a character in it named Evil Shark. Whenever he enters a frame, he waves his fin, and says, “hello. i am evil,” and I fall down laughing.

I will not tell him that sharks don’t do this.

Don’t tell me that I am wasting my time, or yours. Don’t tell me that this is not how to learn to write. Mr. Simon and Schuster bought my new shoes. Fact.

I like to play dress up. I like to color. I like to jump rope. A lot.

Play.

Amy
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