Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"What If"- Creativity at Play

I've been told that playing the "what if" game is a waste of ones time, and that we should all be focused on what is. I'm not so sure about that.
To me, "what ifs" are equal to day dreaming. Some people probably think that's a waste of time as well, but ask any creative person and I'll bet you'd have a fun argument on your hands.
Some of my most inspiring moments are when I'm asking myself things like, what if I'd become a traditional, fine artist instead of a children's book illustrator/authorsWould I be having a gallery show right now instead of plunking out a blog entry on my keyboard? At one point (long ago) it could have gone either way. Would I be sipping champagne instead of trying to decide what to scrape up for dinner? What if it's not too late? Should I give it a go? Put my career (ha, ha, ha) as a "professional" children's book illustrator/author on hold?? Hmmmm?

Now here's what I'm talking about! All this contemplating has given me ideas! There could be a character for a story here, or a great illustration. Imagine a bunch of stuffy, stiff rich folk, sipping martini's at a gallery opening for a Picasso-like, overly plump arrrr'-teast! And here's the kicker, we are seeing it from a mouses point of view! I'm sure that's the same sort of brain-storming that made "Ratatouille" come to life!
Back to the game.
What if I'd played it safe, and had become an English teacher? Well, I'd have a steady job, making more money than I ever have as an illustrator. But, I'd also be full-swing into the first semester after a long, un-paid summer. I'd have tests piled high on my desk, waiting to be graded and my check book would be running on empty after shelling out what's left of my savings on supplies that the county couldn't afford to provide for my classroom!

I'm seeing a wild-eyed, exhausted teacher. Her chin is propped up in one hand, elbow on her desk. There's a exaggerated mountain of test papers next to her on one side, and a big stack of books on the other. Now back up. We realize she's in her pajama's and fuzzy slippers. There's a laundry basket piled high with laundry in front of the desk, there's toys everywhere, and the kids are having a pillow fight behind her...feathers are flying. This is probably close to the reality of a teachers life. I'm suddenly glad to be an illustrating the scene instead of living it.

Being a creative person does have it's advantages. We get to play the "what if" game and actually get something out of it besides remorse and regret. There's an up side that not too many people experience, so they avoid it, unaware of it's true potential. The truth is, I wouldn't trade my life for any other and being fully aware of that fact makes playing the "what if" game enjoyable.
Imagine how many wondrous things would not exist if not for the game! There would be no cell phones, (we should all be thanking Gene Roddenberry) microwave ovens, or even computers.
For those who would run from the game because there's a possibility for negativity, I say;
"What if you could learn to see your glass half full?"