Today – I’m going to respond to a question that I’ve been asked by a couple of people.  The question is this:

“I thought this was supposed to be a children’s book.  Why have you created an illustrated poem for adults?”

Well… the short answer is:  why not?

But I actually have a number of thoughts on this topic.

Why do we only have storybooks, illustrated books and poetry… for children?  Why are these things not created for adults too?  Why do most of us assume that illustrations… and illustrated books are “for kids”…?

I actually think it’s a big part of the problem.  This idea that we (“grown-up’s”) have about the arts as a whole.  Most of us have been raised in societies and schools that devalue the arts… poetry… storytelling.  We’re told from a young age to “grow-up”.  We’re instructed to be sensible, obedient, practical, dutiful and responsible.  And, in many ways, we’re told and taught (and especially as we get older)… that we need to pack away the whimsy, the beauty, the playtimes, the stories, the dreams, imagination, adventure, wonder and art… and we need to store it all in a little box called “Childish Things”.

That little box gets padlocked… and filed away in the deep, dark recesses of our minds where it gathers dust and lies dormant – like an undiscovered treasure.  And many of us NEVER open it up again.

We replace the beautiful, whimsical things with practical things.  Sensible things.

We replace the play with work.  Because that’s what we grown-up’s do.  We work.  Play is for children.

We replace the fables and the stories with “truth”.  When somebody tells us a story, we – as grown-up’s – immediately respond:  “Yes, that’s very nice.  But is it true?

We replace our big, beautiful dreams with “realism”.  We say things like:  “I’m just being realistic“.  We tell ourselves that our dreams are “pipe dreams”… or “fantasies”.  We scold ourselves for dreaming.  We tell ourselves that it’s time-wasting, childish nonsense.  That we need to grow-up and “get real”.

We replace imagination and ideas with systems, structures and 3-step-plans.  We’ve been so programmed to think this way… to Answer-the-Questions (instead of QUESTION the answers)… to Obey-The-Rules… and Pass-The-Tests… and Do-What-We’re-Told… and to be compliant and obedient… and, as a result, many of us have lost the ability to think for ourselves… to initiative NEW ideas… NEW concepts… NEW solutions.

Many adults believe that they need other people to govern their lives and tell them what to do – and without those people;  the parent… the teacher… the pastor… the husband… the boss… the “expert”… the government official… they feel unsafe and adrift.

And… as for the WONDER.  Whatever happened to that?

Most adults can’t even get their brains around the idea of “wonder”.  We believe we must have The Answers.  We must know The Truth.  There seems to be little room for questioning… pondering… or even a willingness to embrace uncertainty.  Few of us (grown-up’s) are content to embrace the wonder of the unknown… the divine mysteries of life… to be perfectly comfortable admitting:  “You know what?  I don’t know.  And I’m okay with not knowing.  But… ah… isn’t it wonderful simply to ponder on all the possibilities??”

And as for art… and colour… the creative expression of our longings, thoughts and imaginings…

For many adults, “ART” is the domain of The Arty-Farty’sThose people.  Those other people.

“I’m not creative”, people say (I’ve heard this so many times… I’ve lost count).

And yet – as children – we ALL created art.  We ALL were involved in painting, drawing, dancing, drama and poetry.  As kids, we were ALL encouraged to express ourselves in a creative way.  Nobody pigeon-holed us then.  Nobody said:  “You five kids over there!  You are the arty-farty’s.  You are ALLOWED to create art.  The rest of you?  You’ve got NO creativity or talent.  Go and kick a ball or do some sums”.

As children – we were ALL encouraged to express ourselves through art.

What happened?

What changed?  Why were the paints, the poetry, the crafts and the music all packed away?

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One of the reasons why I’ve created my book as an illustrated poem… is because I believe that ADULTS… could do with a nice, healthy dose of ART, stories, poetry, colourful imaginings… and whimsy… injected back into their lives!

By telling my story (which is, at times, dark and difficult)… using ART and POETRY… it’s my small attempt to debunk this crazy myth that illustrated-books-are-just-for-children.

THIS illustrated book is… for grown-up’s.  Yes – I’ll create another one for children (a lite version).  But – this FIRST version… this FIRST edition… is for all the adults.

And ESPECIALLY for the adults who have told themselves the bullshit lie that they are “not creative”… or “not particularly talented at anything”… or “not enough”.

ESPECIALLY those adults.

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I have 19 more days to raise the full $5000 that I need to print and distribute my book.  If you would like a signed, first-edition copy of my illustrated-poem-for-grown’up’s… (along with other goodies and perks that I’ll be posting to backers) – I’d be HUGELY grateful if you click on THIS LINK.  Thank-you!  Thank-you!

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PS:  Now… go and paint a picture, take a photo, climb a tree, do a cartwheel, scrape Nutella out of a jar with your fingers, have a bubble bath (preferably with bath-toys), compose a limerick, sing a song, daydream, pick some wild flowers and stick them in your hair, mould something out of polymer clay, wear something outrageously bright and sparkly, play dress-up… (well – you get the picture)…. X

PPS:  Quick disclaimer (added after reading a few comments and suddenly feeling horrified that I might not be making myself crystal-clear with this post).  To all the mathematicians, scientists, engineers (and people generally brilliant at all the stuff I suck at).  Please… please… don’t see this post as a *diss* on your particular craft or skill.  I truly believe that we are ALL creative… that creativity shows itself in ways as diverse as the stars in the sky.  Although I DO believe that the arts (like painting, poetry, drama, dance, music, etc) have been marginalized and generally devalued by society and school and viewed as hobbies and not as *important* as maths or science…  I am *NOT* saying that *I* think that maths or science (or anything – really) – is a “lesser” pursuit.  I see ALL our talents and gifts as equal… and ALL of these things can be expressed through creative means.  There is creativity in business… there is creativity in maths… there is creativity in engineering.  I’m sorry if anyone has misunderstood my stance on this!  Pleeeeeease know that I hold these 4 values close to my heart:

  1. I believe that we are ALL creative.
  2. I believe there is no such thing as a “lesser” or “less worthy” gift / calling / talent / career.
  3. My deep desire – for everyone – is that they learn to truly embrace their beautiful uniqueness and be the best version of THEM-selves.
  4. I have never-ever-ever wanted other people to be more like “me”.  God forbid.  I want YOU to just be… more like… YOU! – and not to let anyone tell you how to live or who to be.  Just be YOU.  Be… YOU!!

*phew!* (Hope that’s cleared up?)…