The Child Within

By Marisa Orton. Marisa, 17, is a young writer from Fayence, France

Imagine diving into an epitome of colourful creativity, dwelling in the refreshing sensation of liberty which fills your body with a hope that many people abandon in this world of monotony and reaching out your arms to swim further into the bejewelled depths; you lose yourself in what could have been, only to find that the beauty of your artistic imagination may be the key to it all becoming real. In my opinion, being a true artist is about more than just painting a picture or tapping meaningless words on a keyboard and calling it a novel. Art comes from the capacity to enter into a new dimension of the universe, searching beyond the public’s wildest dreams to extract wonders. Pablo Picasso, known for being undoubtedly one of history’s most remarkable artists, once said that, ‘every child is born an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ I find this idea fascinating, because although it may sound absurd that a young child could be capable of creating unprecedented miracles, I believe Picasso managed to put into words what the world has long been screaming out to us.

For as far back as I can recall, writing has been my passion, because for me, writing a story is like creating the brightest and most beautiful piece of artwork possible. When I was younger, I loved playing with the words as if they were floating objects and putting them together to form little glimpses of perfection. Every day, I would run home from school and start scribbling stories on battered pieces of paper, endlessly producing tales of cats or witches or my friends and all the wonderful adventures I imagined us embarking on together. I used the society I know today simply as an experiment – a place to visit to see what was happening there – because I spent most of my time in the world I had created around myself. Only there could I dance on shooting stars and race through jungle tree tops, for my imagination took me everywhere I wished to go.

I never knew I was a terrible writer until I turned ten. Heading into secondary school, I began to enter short story contests and ask the people around me to read what I wrote, because I was sure I was a great writer. However, when I started entering more competitions I didn’t ever hear back from, I was heart-broken and it made me re-read the stories I had written. Meanwhile, it seemed as if society had begun moving on without me; I had been so caught up in my imaginary world that when I stepped back into reality, I didn’t know what to do, how to act or who I was meant to be. It felt like I was nobody at all, because the only place I had ever truly existed was in my own world. When I tried to write again, every sentence seemed wrong, as if the stars I used to see dancing above my bed-side table had become no more than specks of dust. I was terrified that what I wrote was a disaster, as if reality had not only made me question society, but also myself; I could barely write a word anymore.

Effectively, I do believe that children have a rare artistic talent. Strangers to the world and all it entails, only young children are truly apt to take a step back from Reality and create their own fantasies. Most children have few cares in the world, so aren’t worried about critics, sadness or the evil grin of the torturous despair that keeps us all up at night. They want to express themselves no matter what, whether it is on their feet or their parents’ newly-plastered wall. I mean, as young adults, how many of us can look at a plastic dinosaur and imagine not only its personality, but also its thoughts, weaknesses and interactions with others of its species? Yet, a child does this effortlessly. When was the last time you had a riveting conversation with a stuffed animal? Writing and designing come from this same openness and the excitement that comes with the discovery of the world. When children begin to grow up, they are taught, by their peers and also by society in general, that toys don’t have feelings. Santa and all those other magically omniscient figures they spent their childhood adoring are no more than myths. Cats and dogs don’t talk. Love at first sight is just a concept to allow us to pretend love is easy.

As Picasso said, ‘the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.’ How can you keep your creativity and imagination when you realize that everything you believe in is a spider web of white lies? However, I believe that those who are destined to be artists are artists for life. Although you may never quite retrieve the creative curiosity you had a child, growing up is a matter of becoming a different type of artist. We all have a fantasy world; the difference between ours and a child’s is that ours is screaming to be let out, while a child’s is plain to see. We generally have more experience than children, which is why we can either hide our imagination behind it, or chose to embrace it and let it guide us in our creativity. Sure, I no longer write about cats with magical powers or underwater television and maybe I do worry about what other people think of my writing, but that doesn’t mean I’m not a writer. Writing is still the universe I adore- I just chose when to dive into it. Now, despite having turned seventeen and being well and truly in the real world, I love to live through my stories. All my hopes and dreams are reflected through my plots and characters, as if they are microcosms what could potentially be. Their secrets are my secrets and their lives somehow give mine meaning.

In conclusion, I think Picasso was right to say that every child is an artist, for they seem to be born with the desire to express what they think in an often loud and remarkable way. Children are what make our world magical, for, without them, we would all be consumed by reality. Perhaps creativity comes more naturally to children, but true artists are capable of miracles when they let the child inside them speak. It is important for an artist to let their craft develop and evolve in each new stage of their life. Ironically, Picasso painted realistic portraits at the beginning of his career, as if he saw the world for exactly what it was, while in his later years he oriented his work around cubism and masterpieces characterized by the incompleteness of his shapes and the seemingly infantile pallet he used; Picasso’s creativity blossomed as he grew older and I believe this makes him a marvellous artist. Personally, I’m still chasing my dream, because even though it may be for nothing, I don’t want to grow old saying I missed my chance to become an incredible person like Picasso.

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