The Etch A Sketch toy was invented in the late 1950s by André Cassagnes. He somehow put together the clinging properties of aluminum powder, along with rigged styluses and came up with one of the world’s most popular drawing toys. That he did so just in time to capitalize on the baby boom makes me wonder whether the toy is genius enough to survive decades, virtually intact, or if the momentum of innovating a toy at the onset of a population explosion can make what’s simple appear to be lasting genius.
Millions of children all over the world have created aluminum powder masterpieces, only to have them disappear on a whim. Kind of like life, isn’t it?
We twist and turn our desires into creative projects, and sometimes they last for a long time, and sometimes they are gone before we have finished with them. So it goes.
But somewhere within the Etch A Sketch, every creation still exists, and each creation’s fate is only to become fodder for the next one. No two creations are ever identical. Sound familiar?
I have been trying my hand(s) at writing for just over a year. I’ve been in and out of writing classes, everything from yoga based writing classes to hardcore memoir and creative nonfiction classes. I have submitted the same pieces to different groups and have become crestfallen that they were not the best thing to happen to my readers and fellow students. I have submitted newbie pieces that I barely edited to online journals to have them published and reviewed favorably. I have read the pieces that left me crestfallen to audiences and had to stop after each sentence to allow the laughter to subside. I have twisted and turned the dial of my writer’s etch a sketch the same way repeatedly, and gotten different results. I have closed my eyes and twisted it, and gotten the same results.
Sometimes I shake it wildly and just stare at the blank screen too, as if the masterpiece will be freed without my intervention.
I can’t ever predict nor will a creation into being as I intend it, any more than one can draw a straight line by twisting a knob which was engineered to permit the least variation to manifest. But what I can do is show up to create, knowing that the ability to twist the knob and the power to shake are all mine, and by doing so, just by showing up, I have added to the momentum of my genius.