The advent of today's post was triggered by two short quotations I came across over the past couple of weeks. The first was a quote by an author, whom I'm ashamed to say I can't remember his name. Basically, he lamented the fact that his parents gave him a wonderful childhood, therefore he could never be a writer. The second, was from an article my sister read, proclaiming that it was good and in fact quite healthy, for kids to be bored once in a while.
Now, I know you're wondering how I'm going to connect these two thoughts, but don't worry, I shall. My first reaction when I read the first quote was an internal, "oh no! I had a great childhood. I'm screwed!" Then, of course I realized that the author in question was being funny. Being a writer doesn't mean you need to have had a horrible childhood. It's perfectly acceptable to have grown up in a loving home with great parents. Your success as a writer does not depend on misery, but sometimes, it can depend on boredom.
(You see? I didn't lie. There is a connection). I have to admit, if it weren't for boredom, most of my writing wouldn't exist. The book I'm currently editing started life as a short story. But it didn't end there. At the end of the day, when my husband was fast asleep beside me in bed, I would turn over the plot in my mind. Cut off from my phone, the computer, the television, even a good book because noise or light of any kind drives my husband crazy when he's trying to sleep, I would have nothing to do while I waited for my own sandman to visit. So, to pass the time I told myself stories, visualized scenes and kept building on the plot of the short story until I had an idea that was novel length and begging to be written.
I'm not saying that if you deprive your kids (or yourself) of all forms of entertainment they'll become writers. Nor am I saying that you should give them a miserable childhood so they'll be artistic. But I am saying that boredom can be useful. Just like a wonderful childhood can be useful. It shapes us and informs our imagination. Not to mention, boredom seems to be the magic elixir to getting things done. Who's ever heard of someone tackling a brutal, tedious project without boredom being a key factor in the inspiration? All I'm saying is that if you give yourself room to be bored once in a while, you might be surprised what you come up with.