Returning to Childish Things

Before I get into the subject of today’s post, let me just say my thoughts and prayers are with and for those affected by Hurricane Irma. And of course I think about 9/11 so many years ago, when terrorist attacks here in the States changed our world in so many ways.

😦

You know how you’re told to “put away childish things” when you become an adult? That’s good advice, especially when it comes to relating to people. It encourages us to actually talk to people we’re in conflict with, instead of rolling our eyes and sticking our tongues out at them, like we did when we were kids, or making up a song about them and taunting them with it.

Oh wait . . .

Moving on (though you probably have the song “Bad Blood” going through your head), I went against the advice to put childish things away and returned to a childhood pastime—making paper rooms.

Why would you do that? I hear you asking. Well, fiction writing has been difficult for me lately. I freeze up whenever I attempt to put words on a page in any of the stories I’ve been working on. Whenever I ran low on inspiration when I was a kid, I made what I called a chain house. First, I would make furniture by folding notebook paper and taping or gluing it so that it would stand up. Second, I would arrange the furniture of each room to fit on one sheet of paper. When I finished two rooms, I would tape them together in a chain before moving on to the next set of two, until the house was complete. The chain houses could be rolled up and stored away.

But these days, instead of using notebook paper, I use the paper you find in the paper crafting section of Michaels or Jo-Ann. Yeah. The good stuff.

Here’s my first attempt at a living room, bedroom, and kitchen.

    

This room is my crafter’s room:

When I was a kid, I never revised anything. Stories remained as they were first written. Same with drawings and chain house rooms.

Now that I’m an adult, revision is second nature. Whatever I write, I revise. And now I’ve begun revising the paper rooms. Here is the revision of the bedroom above. Instead of just a generic bedroom, I positioned it as the ultimate girl’s room. I’m picturing a kid who isn’t the neatest kid on earth living in this room and having sleepovers here.

Instead of a generic living room-like space as before, I’m going for a cozy family room in this revision. Obviously, I have a lot more to do in this room to add more character. Like maybe adding more furniture.

What I realized through this paper room exercise is the value of having specific goals for each space, as well as having characters in mind. When I made the first rooms (the living room and bedroom), I didn’t put much thought into the rooms. I just made them, because they were fun to make. But during the revision phase, I realized I needed to have goals for the space, as well as character marks to show what the person or people who occupy that space is/are like.

When I made the crafter’s room, I had a specific person in mind—myself. I don’t really have a craft room like this. This room reflects my crafting style and the tools I often use. But the reason why you don’t see a revised version of this room, is because I knew when I started it what the goal was and who it was for. I’m happy with how it turned out.

Maybe what I learned while making paper rooms will help me when I return to fiction writing. So many times, I’ve leaped into a story without giving much thought to goals and without really knowing the characters I wanted to write about. But now I know I can give more thought to both and have fun during the journey.

Sometimes it’s good to return to childish things.

Have you returned to an activity you loved when you were a kid? How has this activity helped you in your adult life?

The start of the next room . . .

Girl sticking her tongue out image from imgrcade.com. All other photos by L. Marie.

52 thoughts on “Returning to Childish Things

  1. I adore your paper rooms and like the analogy you make to writing, revising, recreating…It’s good to leave the writing for a while if stuck and do something different – I hope this helped you! 😃

  2. Never heard of paper rooms before, but the look really cool and well done. How long does it typically take to make a room? As far as childish things go, I keep thinking about how you have adult coloring books, video games, and other activities that people are quick to push away as ‘immature’. I’ve found that people who indulge in childish things tend to be happier and easier to interact with. Maybe there’s a big psychological and social benefit to retaining some aspect of your childhood.

    • One room can take two or three days. I like to tinker with the rooms a bit.

      Yes, I agree that people who indulge in so-called childish things are happier. I think about graphic novels, which I really enjoy. Some people feel these are just “for kids”–particularly 8-12 year olds. I wouldn’t hand anyone less than 15 years old some of the graphic novels on my shelf.

      • I get that a lot because I’ve gone back to reading a lot of manga. Getting harder and harder to find the stuff too. Seems it’s easier to judge than relax, doesn’t it?

      • Yes it does. I would like to read more of the Full-metal Alchemist manga. So hard to find those at my library. I bought some at Half Price Bookstore.

      • I love that one and have the entire collection. If your library has a borrowing system then it should be easier. Mine connects to all of them in the county and even has another one to connect to the next county over. Definitely helps with the more obscure ones. Manga seems more popular in the next one over than here. I always have to go there for the last 1-3 volumes of a series.

      • Good advice. Nothing is more irksome than finding volume 2 but no volume 1 of a series. Years ago, I read a manga called Once in a Blue Moon. Loved it. But the library never carried another volume. Didn’t even mention another one!

      • I’ve read two series that were missing the last few ones. Negima and Shaman King, which I had to read spoilers of out of desperation. One of my favorites only goes halfway too, so I’ll have to wait until I can afford all 43 volumes. 😦 Far too expensive on eBay.

  3. I’m so impressed with your paper rooms, L. Marie! I’m loving the fireplace. 🙂 You know me, when I get stuck in my story, I head to my jigsaw puzzle. This weekend, I finished one 500 piece puzzle and started a new one. I got on a roll and I’m about half way finished. 🙂

    • I saw some good ones at Target, Jill. What images do you like on puzzles? I love jigsaw puzzles, especially those with colorful images–like a field of flowers. I just wish I had room to work on one. I have so little space in my apartment.

      • Most of the puzzle we do are photographs of scenery, etc. The one I just finished was a country store. I started a fun one, it’s a photo of a 1960’s VW bus that’s covered in bright colored flowers. The Dollar Tree sells nice 500 piece puzzles. You don’t really need a lot of space. Maybe you can get a folding card table. When I get overly hyper, the puzzle always settles me down. 🙂

  4. I adore your paper rooms and your tie-in to revising writing, and I suppose, revising anything you might want to revise. My childish escape was, still is, kiddie lit. A winter storm hereabouts will have me pulling out Wilder’s “The Long Winter”. Hurricane Harvey had me looking for, and ending up at Amazon for Lenski’s “Flood Friday”.

  5. L. Marie, these are amazing! Angus would go crazy over these, so I’m thinking I might have to steal this idea from you, if you don’t mind. 😉

    So far as childish things, I guess the one thing I’m returning to is trusting in my imagination. Everything was a possibility as a child and I think it needs to be that way with us as grown-ups, too. That line of thinking has made the writing much more fun for me again.

    I hope this creative outlet you’ve returned to fires up your typing fingers again.

  6. I love those rooms and how you’ve connected them to the revision process. I’m sure a teacher could incorporate your practice into a lesson on revision. I’m currently looking at the back side of a Lego house I just built and wondering if I should put a window downstairs so the cook can look out from the kitchen.

  7. I love your rooms! There’s something so satisfying about crafting something, isn’t there? Ha! I thought about your question, but then realised I haven’t much changed the things I did as a child – bookish child, bookish adult. Loved my pets, love my pets. Big tennis fan, big tennis fan. Knitted and sewed – you get the picture. Admittedly, it’s been a while since I played on a spacehopper… 😉 But I do find any kind of crafting calms and “centres” me in times of stress or when I need to have a break from whatever is obsessing me.

    • Thank you! I haven’t changed much either. Still love to read, write stories (though I have been failing in that department), crochet, draw, etc. I definitely feel calmer whenever I’m working on something. I can’t help remembering how my dad used to smoke a pipe while working on wooden things. He did that a lot when I was a kid.

  8. I used to love to color. Last year (I think it was) I bought some adult coloring books. As it turned out, it wasn’t the same experience. For one thing the adult coloring books are very detailed, so instead of being a relaxing few minutes, coloring one page is a large undertaking. I’ve still enjoyed it, but I haven’t colored many pages.

    You said, “So many times, I’ve leaped into a story without giving much thought to goals and without really knowing the characters I wanted to write about.” Me too. And I would like to have goals and characters all figured out before I start, but I’m not very good at it. I seem to need to start writing first. On the other hand, I think it’s time to go back and take some time working on understanding my goals, characters and ending before I go much farther.

    • Hi, Nicki
      I think you mentioned on your blog that you bought some coloring books. I have some too. But as you mentioned, they take a long time to work on. I feel overwhelmed just looking at one page. So I’ve done a few, then put the book away.

      I’m going to try harder to know my characters, and the ways their goals dovetail with or hinder someone else’s goals.

  9. In regard to returning to things we liked when we were kids, I was reminded of, in my example, the reverse: when, as a child (around ten), my schoolteacher was expressing her concern about the books that I read. Where the kids in my class were reading Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton, etc, I was reading James Herbert. I don’t think it did me any harm, though my wife would beg to differ!

  10. Sweet rooms . . . Especially since we haven’t gone home yet. Everything looks good in our ‘hood, but no power yet so we’re still at our friend’s home since she has power AND a/c.

  11. WOW! When you first mentioned paper rooms, I’m thinking elementary school dioramas…nothing like these gems! Remember the doll house at the Field Museum (I think it’s that one)…they remind me of those. You’re so artistic, Linda!
    🙂
    You’ll be back to churning out copy for those writing projects in no time!

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