Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

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February 20, 2013

Creativity -- Opening the Door of the Treasure House

A Quick News Flash! Laura Drake is our local Query Queen. She's shared the knowledge gained from her 15 year stint in the submission wars  in several blogs here over the years. She wanted to let you know that she's teaching a month-long, online class for Margie Lawson's Writer's Academy in March, Submissions that Sell! A submission is much more than just a query -- and you have one shot at a gatekeeper's attention. Make the most of it! You can learn more here.

Now, on to a new guest we're excited to introduce you to!

Today's guest is Kathleen Harrington, is a multi-published, eclectic Historical Avon author. She's written novels set from Regency England, the American West, and Medieval Scotland.  The research alone make me shudder!  But after reading her blog, you'll understand where all her stories came from!  Take it away, Kathy~

There are several fairytales currently playing in our movie theaters. Hansel and Gretel. Jack the Giant Slayer. The Great and Powerful Oz. Along with Beautiful Creatures, a story about Casters, aka witches. (As in the land of Oz, some casters are good and some, not so much.)

Every culture on Earth has its myths. Legends as old as time. Which seems to beg the question: What do we and the cavemen have in common?

Everyone loves a good story!

Those ancient cavemen sat around the fireside spinning yarns to entrance their listeners. As the storytellers of our generation, we sit at our computers instead. But our goal is the same. To captivate our readers.

Where do our own stories come from? They spring from the treasure house within us, that gift of creativity that lies within all human beings.

When I was five years old, my Grandpa Louis built a playhouse for me. A marvelous structure, with a door and windows for light, white siding on the outside, a charmingly arched roof trimmed in red, and a planked wood floor. A house clearly meant for children, for no adult could stand up straight, once inside. A house meant for exploring the world of imagination.

Inside my playhouse, my two cousins and I recreated countless stories of heroes and heroines. Tales of unflinching valor and derring-do, with fire-breathing dragons and that awful green witch from the Wizard of Oz. We took on the roles of pirates, knights, cowgirls, and movie stars. We cooked make-believe meals served on our pint-sized china, dressed in long gowns and high heels that had once been worn by our mothers. We played with our baby dolls, our paper dolls, and our storybook dolls. In endless summer days of pure imaginative delight. Sometimes, we even let our brothers join us, but only if they behaved to our satisfaction. After all, someone had to take on the roles of the villains.

These happy memories bring to mind a quote of Albert Einstein. "If you want your children to be smart, read them fairytales. If you want them to be even smarter, read them more fairytales." (My point is not to infer that I'm smart, because I'm faaar from a genius. Way far!) Rather, it's the vast importance of fairytales in our creative psyches. As Einstein further stated, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." And he, of course, was a genius.

Throughout history, storytellers held exalted positions in their cultures, for they were the keepers of the flame of knowledge of right and wrong, good and evil.


photo credit: Reuben Degiorgio via photopin cc

Today, we writers are the keepers of the flame. Through our stories, we tell of the joys and heartaches of the human experience. We show people who stumble and fall, who recognize and overcome their individual flaws, and succeed, against all odds, in returning with the elixir.

My childhood playhouse is the symbol of the treasure house within me. The place where my heroes and heroines conquer fire-breathing dragons. And prove the value of always carrying a bucket of water. Just in case we meet up with that awful green witch from Oz.

Visualize the treasure house within you. What do you see?

KH-Edit-Small-Kathleen Harrington is a multi-published author of historical romance.LACHLAN'S BRIDE Her latest book, the second in the Highland Lairds Series, Lachlan's Bride, an Avon Impulse, will be released April 30th.    http://kathleenharringtonbooks.com

0 comments on “Creativity -- Opening the Door of the Treasure House”

  1. Kathy, I was a dreamer child. Nothing better than lying in the grass in the summer, thinking as I studied clouds. Or sat high in a tree, listening to the wind.

    Can you guess I was a tomboy?!

    1. Knowing you're a "biker chick," I'm not surprised you were a tomboy. You're far braver than I! But I climbed my share of trees with my brothers and cousins. Where better to play "Tarzar?"

  2. Ah Kathy, to be the dreamer and the teller of tall tales. Like Laura, I was indeed a tomboy. But for the grassy slopes of Sunset Park, my world in Brooklyn was filled with other wonders that spurred my imagination. Blue-collar, dirt poor (although we didn't know it then) we lived in the middle of a giant factory district not far from the Brooklyn docks. The rails from the old frieght lines leading from the docks, the streets, the trolleys, and the incredible mix of people from four continents, provided me with fodder that to this day has never dulled. I may never run out of tall tales and adventures for my characters and consider myself blessed to have had a most unusual childhood of exploration and wonder. Thanks so very much for this post and for being the keeper of the flame. It passes to us to captivate and amuse, to thrill and delight ... and what better job (my last career if you will) could we find? Loved the image of the little house 🙂

  3. Fabulous reminder, Kathy.
    I think sometimes - because we're writers or adults or both? - we forget to listen to our inner treasure house and let our imagination flow. We get so sucked into worrying about what will sell and revising until the manuscript is perfect that we edit our imagination right off the page. I just love the Einstein quote, “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” And with that in mind, I'm going to build a fort in my family room and get to writing! 🙂

      1. You will both get back to new stories soon. We all will. And when we do ... all hell will break loose and those imagination juices will fill us with awe once again 🙂

  4. Lovely post, Kathleen. I envy you the house your grandfather built you, and that you were so close to your grandparents. I moved a lot and in doing that missed out on the relationships my cousins had with them. But in place, I developed my imagination and lived there most of the time. Nice to be reminded of what a gift that is.
    I think your name sounds like it could be for one of your heroines, Kathleen. Perfect for a romance author. 🙂
    While I haven't taken Laura's course, I strongly support anything you can get via Margie Lawson! I credit her (along with a bunch of other people :)) for my getting published this summer. Any time you can take one of her courses, sign right up. Well worth the time and money. I know Laura's will be super.

    1. I suspect most writers may have lived in their imagination during childhood. Your frequent moves must have given you a great sense of independence and self-reliance. A gift also needed to be a writer! Thanks for your comment, Marsha.

  5. Growing up I had full access to the family bookshelf, particularly well-stocked with volumes of history, biography and travel. Even though I didn’t have a playhouse at the bottom of our back yard, I did have a “playhouse” in my mind. The adventures I conjured up as a child, then teen, and finally an adult, fueled my spirit and love of everything creative today!

    1. Yes, Val! I know exactly what you mean. All writers are voracious readers! And everything we read in childhood left its mark. As Dennis Colombo told us in his talk at our Orange County Chapter of RWA: "All writing is autobiographical." Looking forward to hearing what you've been writing lately!

  6. I loved your line about storytellers holding exalted positions! It wasn't just for minstrels and campfires. It's good for today. I'm going to hold that phrase at the front of my mind.

  7. HI Kathleen. Thanks for being here today! Love the Einstein quotes esp. I didn't have a playhouse but my mother always said when I got a toy in a big box, I'd set the toy aside, get in the box and then open the world of my imagination. 🙂 Sometimes I'd color gears and a steering wheel and I'd have a race car; sometimes it was castle. These days I collect dolls from all over the world and the little girl in me creates stories for them. Thanks for this lovely reminder on creativity.

    1. Our creativity is boundless. Although we each bring different memories and experiences, we all have that gift inside us which we want and need to share. I love that you're collecting dolls from all over the world, Sharla Rae! Not only can you picture your heroines in your mind, you actually get to see them in person.

  8. An inspiring article. My dad was a story teller. He kept everyone enthralled. We have a great legacy to follow. Hugs, Naomi

    1. I'm not familiar with "fan fiction" but that doesn't surprise me. Sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland, running as fast as I can just to stay in the same place! Thanks for your intriguing comment, C.K. Now I need to ask my friends, what exactly is fan fiction?

  9. Oh, Kathleen! You brought back fond memories of my own little private haven I'd create out out of an old sheet thrown over the dining room table. I'd crawl under there and become whoever I wanted to be! I loved your Einstein quotes - he's one of my heroes. Your books are magical, so you learned well in your little childhood playhouse.

  10. Kathleen,
    Thanks for sharing the Einstein quote.
    I used to sit in trees and dance across cow pastures; before video games andaffordable computers, my imagination had free rein . I was going to become a writer, but my parents told me I needed to get a "real" job. I took a multi-year left brain detour before rediscovering my right brained-creativity. I am now writing fantasy, complete with dragons. Because, when all is said and done and studied, are lives are so much richer when we embrace the mysterious and magical!

  11. Hi Kathleen,

    In rural Canada, my playmates were pine trees, tall grasses, and tiny cacti. Whenever friends from school or my cousins would come to visit, I'd take them through tours of the fantasy worlds I'd built there--underground caverns, spy escapades, and Shakespearean amphitheaters. Thank you for reminding me of the seeds of the worlds we write about today, and the rich imagination we would do well to cultivate.

    A wonderful post.
    Angela Kyle

    1. Thanks, Angela! I'm glad you enjoyed by blog. It's amazing to me how important and influential our childhood experiences are to our writing. It doesn't surprise me that you were so imaginative in your early years. Your writing is filled with astonishing creativity!

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