Friday, February 27, 2009

Hill Kemp on Creativity after 60

I have been intrigued by how different my years as an older person are from what I expected. I think of Prill Boyle's blog "Defying Gravity" as I say that. When Hill Kemp, a former politician and fellow contributor to the anthology Secrets II sent me an e-mail on his experiences as a writer and other creative pursuits, I felt compelled to share it with you.


By Hill Kemp

I have been exploring the subject of creativity lately. That’s a topic dear to authors. Creativity and perseverance are two keys to successful novel writing.

It seems now that I’m in my 60's, I am compulsive about creativity and I’m wondering why. I'm working on three book projects, written verses to the Bach melody to which Sir Walter Scott penned "Ave Maria," and obtained patent on a process addressing a dilemma with which Aristotle struggled. I have developed method to increase the fleet gas mileage of the entire country 10 - 15%. I’ve even conceived a new bullet.

So, why, I ask, is this all coming up now? To that end, I began to muse over the lyrics to “Puff the Magic Dragon”. Odd, I know. Peter, Paul and Mary have never assigned a meaning of the song. They say it’s just a “children’s story”.

When I revisited those words, I came up with a meaning of my own. Perhaps that’s what the lyricists wanted by not being specific. That playful, creative, frolicking and mischievous aspect seen in so many 3-year-olds seemed important to me in terms of my new-found approach to joy.

Our system of socialization affects a huge percent of the population by killing that "Puff" quality that occurs naturally in children. Parents, teachers--our culture in general--do it with a death of a thousand tiny cuts. They say,

"Don't act like a baby."

"When are you going to grow up?"

"That's not the way a young lady/gentleman acts."

“Behave yourself!”

The death of a thousand cuts tends to be permanent, closing Puff into the cave brick by brick (to mix the metaphor).

My metaphorical Puff was flung violently into his cave at age 4 by a father who was “Don’t spare the rod.” on steroids. My amateur theory is that while my Puff/playful nature was violently tossed into its cave, it went in there WHOLE. Now that my life has freed me sufficiently, my Puff is available to me closer to how it was in the full, powerful state I was born with. After all “a dragon lives forever.” I can’t seem to turn it off.

So instead of Puff having something to do with marijuana, it may point to a societal tragedy. Note Puff and Jackie are the same age or nearly so. Puff is very powerful but is completely vulnerable to abandonment from Jackie. The fun and fantasy of childhood “make way for other toys.” etc.

This point of view has been extremely helpful to me. I hope you gain from it too. It’s a message for authors, but maybe more importantly for parents and grandparents. I would love to include the lyrics for you here but more of culture’s rules won’t allow that, even attributed. But you may review the famous words (and story) at

Hill Kemp is an author and inventor. He wrote:

A Lone Star Special, UPC 9781935137450

Capitol Offense, ISBN 1-878096-70-2

Lucky Penny, UPC 9781933090870

He contributed to:

Secrets, Fact or Fiction?, UPC 9780973728255

Secrets, Fact or Fiction?, II, UPC 9781595940629

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor blog.

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