What’s Fun Got to Do with It?

“Let’s play Pokemon,” Alex said, when he realized dinner wouldn’t be ready for a few minutes.

“No!” I said, dramatically, “I don’t want to play Pokemon. Not unless I can have the Pokemon with the most power because I never win.”

“Well, you can’t have the Pokemon with the most power, because I have that one, but you can have the second most powerful Pokemon,” he explained, as though these were the rules.

In fact, these were the rules. These seem to be the ever-changing rules in the made up game of Pokemon cards which allows Alex to always win and me to always lose. Even though I’m 40 and he’s eight, sometimes it irks me.

“I don’t know if I can play. Let me ask your mom if she needs help with dinner,” I said, hoping with all hope that maybe dinner was very complicated and my friend Kelly would need my help.

“No, I think I pretty much have it covered. You can just play with the boys,” she said, sticking very close to the kitchen herself.

“But it’s Pokemon,” I said, desperately. “And I never win Pokemon.”

“Yep, that sounds about right,” she said, stirring away nonchalantly. I had said that I would come early for dinner so I could play with the boys. But if I had known they would choose Pokemon . . .

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I headed back to the living room plotting to play Alex in his own game. Every time he would offer me a Pokemon character, I would pronounce boldly that it had the most power and would definitely win. I was changing the rules back.

“Huh uh,” six-year-old Jensen chimed in after my first such pronouncement. “Mewto only has 200 power.”

“Well, I think it has 200,00 power. I’m going to be Mewto.”

“Huh uh,” Alex said.

Our play time was becoming increasingly hostile, and we hadn’t even started playing the card game.

“Where are the cards?” I asked, bewildered.

“We’re not playing Pokemon cards; we’re just playing Pokemon,” he said. “You be Tepig. I’m the trainer. Jensen is Sewaddle.”

I wanted to resist. How was I ever going to win if I didn’t even know what game we were playing. And why were the rules, and now the game itself, always changing?

Then, it hit me. Pokemon is not a job to these boys; it’s not politics or government. Pokemon is not a religion or a philosophical system. It’s not a sports league or the military.

Pokemon is just playing.

And the boys just wanted me to play with them, not argue about the rules.

::

Sometimes, I have the same irksome feelings toward myself as a writer.

The rules seem to change, the power seems negotiable, and often, I’m not even sure what game I am playing. When I start to dread writing, I know it’s because I have made it into a job or a philosophical system and have forgot what it means to just play with words.

L.L. Barkat talks about this in her book, Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity and Writing.

When we are engaged in what feels like the serious business of writing, we may be reticent about regularly incorporating play into our writing habits. It might seem too childish, too outside our familiar routines, too unpredictable concerning its potential impact on our writing.

Playing in my writing is what happens when I write poetry, when I look at a piece of art and try to describe what it does to me, when I watch a movie and write a review. These aren’t things I’m necessarily good at; they don’t always meet the needs of my target audience or create opportunities for publication. But I like doing them; they’re fun to me.

And hey, if I can’t have fun writing at my own blog, then what’s the point?

Becoming a master writer requires that I work at my craft. I can’t play all the time or my writing will never improve, my calling will never achieve clarity. L.L. talks about this, too.

When we possess a little natural talent for writing, we might be tempted to coast along. Why try to master these things called words? Isn’t writing an art? Doesn’t that mean we just let things pour out as they will? I know a lot of writers who don’t work very hard, thinking this is no disaster. They set down the first thing that comes to mind, and they want that to be the end of it.

So, I don’t just play here.

But what if in feeling around in the dark I discover a new doorway? What if in my playing I find a new direction to become masterful? What if I was meant to be a poet who writes about art and occasionally reviews movies?

Maybe.

But in the meantime, at least I will have a little fun.

::

Joining me to become a master writer yourself? Considering what it means to be masterful in another area of life? Does it all feel too serious at times?

Photo by Song_sing, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License.

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Charity Singleton Craig

Charity Singleton Craig is a writer, author, and speaker, helping readers grow in their faith and experience true hope in the middle of life’s joys and sorrows. She is the author of My Year in Words: what I learned from choosing one word a week for one year and coauthor of On Being a Writer: 12 Simple Habits for a Writing Life That Lasts.


  • Sheri L. Swift ,

    Thanks Charity, for reminding us that sometimes we need to think as little children & view the world through their eyes! ; )

    • shrinkingthecamel.com ,

      Oh, how we need fun. Especially when it comes to blogging. I mean, come on. This is not serious business!

      I love how you used the analogy of the pokemon game with no rules, compared to religion, politics, etc. Sometimes we need rules to get along, but other times we need to just let go and have fun. There’s a freedom in that, don’t you think?
      🙂

      • Carolyn Counterman ,

        Charity, I have been inspired. Thank you (and L.L.)! Well, I was mostly inspired. My post title, “Word Fun”, could have used a little help, but the post itself was entertaining to me as I put it together. That counts, right? I told my readers it was your fault, so we’ll see if that becomes a good thing or a bad thing! 😉

        You can check it out at http://whoivealwaysbeen.blogspot.com/2011/10/word-fun.html

        • Susan DiMickele ,

          I love this — probably because I love to have fun. I need to pick up this book!

          • Sheila ,

            Play, yes. We need it, don’t we? I grew up in a household where I didn’t see play as a valued adult activity–it was undertaken to indulge us kids.

            Though looking back now, I do see more playfulness than I noticed growing up. And after my sibs and I were reared and launched, I saw still more.

            My husband has a very fun-loving mother (even today!) and my attachment to that family has helped me embrace fun for its own sake. It’s been a blessing.

            Things like Pokeman evade me. My brain doesn’t go that way. But with the grandchild count standing at 5-2 boys, I do blunder in when it’s the thing to do.

            Thanks for the links, Charity. I’m going to read them.

            • Connie@raise your eyes ,

              I just got caught up on your posts and a bit of play is going ’round my head as my excuse for not staying current.

              Remembering Gandalf’s statement to Frodo, “Oh I’m sorry Frodo, I was…delayed.” Hmmm…maybe there’s a post in this. See what creativity you spark? Just know that while I couldn’t keep up…I was praying, and am praying for you.

              • Marilyn ,

                Ooo. Feeling for what Nancy’s day was. 🙁 May the right toys for you present themselves!

                I have quite a few times gotten caught up in the work of it too much. Overboard. The inner writer has suffered, drained, not just forgetting to ease off but forgetting HOW to ease off. I think it might stem from early years of wanting to be taken seriously and knowing others won’t take me seriously if I don’t. I produced a small body of work that gained acceptance, but my inner writer was drained, lost resilience and wandered off into the “IF ONLY I WAS MORE DISCIPLINED” line of thinking. I was already a very disciplined writer. What I needed was to be disciplined in my not writing, in my play times, to make sure they happened.

                I have grown better at this, I am happy to say. The words that must be gathered lie everywhere, even in play time. This is one of the very freeing thoughts I gained from Rumors of Water.

                Love reading your master artist series, Charity!

                • Nancy ,

                  I didn’t have any fun writing yesterday. It was all hard work, and I didn’t like any of it. Maybe I need to keep some toys near my desk? The rules thing–it just keeps tripping me up.

                  • Sandra Heska King ,

                    Oh, they’d have fun with me. I know nothing about Pokemon. So I’d never know enough to argue with rules.

                    • Lyla Lindquist ,

                      Totally impressed that you know all those goofy characters’ names… Tells me you’ve done your share of playing. I was a little alarmed when my 14yo suddenly took new interest in Pokemon a few months ago. (It didn’t last.)

                      This would be one of my greater challenges… Letting myself just dork around with a thing for a bit and see what happens. You and L.L. make a good case for it.

                      Good to be with you tonight!

                      • Megan Willome ,

                        Play on, Charity. I need a little play at the moment (just finished the magazine). Maybe–thanks to you–I’ll be brave enough to post it.