Writing Romance…Playing Barbie™ for Grownups

August 1, 2011

I was a Barbie™ junkie when I was a kid. Every day, I woke up a few hours before school—when my father woke for work—just to get in some playing time before I met the bus. My Barbie™ dolls had names, family trees, friends, jobs, homes, social schedules, conflict and love lives. (Yes, my dolls engaged in behavior I very definitely hid from their mothers…and my mother too.) In some ways, their lives were everything I wanted my life to be: beautiful, dramatic and happy in the end.

I played with dolls well into my preteen years, but I don’t recall what ultimately happened to my collection. I don’t even remember the last time I played with them before I never pulled them out from their vinyl cases again. I imagine it was a gradual thing, and that as my life became more enriching, their lives couldn’t hold my interest anymore. But I think about those dolls from time to time, and I firmly believe they set me up for an adulthood spent writing romance.

I honed my imagination while I played with dolls. My storytelling ability blossomed between the running storylines of my dolls’ lives and the sound of my mother’s soap operas wafting down the hall. Of course, other experiences influenced and taught me what I needed to know in order to actually sit down and write a romance novel, but Barbie™ was my foundation.

All these years later, I’m reminded that the same thing that kept me popping out of bed before the sun rose to play with my dolls is the most important reason why I write…for fun, to play. It’s easy to forget.

When people ask me why I write, fun doesn’t seem like the practical answer now that I’m approaching forty with three kids and a houseful of laundry. When I do sit to write, my mind is occupied with the desire to get better and be noticed and the dream of publication. I forget about the fun. I forget that regardless of my age, I’m still entitled to personal enjoyment. I forget that whether or not I ever sell a damn thing, the compulsion to write will still be there.
I may have grown up and given away my Barbie™ dolls, but there are stories still waiting to be told.

Did you have a fertile imagination when you were a kid? Can you see areas of your childhood that helped to shape you as a writer?

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5 Responses to “Writing Romance…Playing Barbie™ for Grownups”

  1. Joanne Robinson Says:

    Oh did I ever! I remember setting up lists of famiiies and insurance schemes for each, i can even remember my favorite character was called Claire Thondell…. now thats reaching back a h of a lot of years….
    Writing, dreaming, plotting, is my time, to be pulled out any time, be it for 5 minutes or 5 hours, it’s always there for me. I was an only child, my imagination was my best friend. along with O.H. it still is!


    • Funny! I remember a name too: Adriana. Her father was Grecco. He was in the mafia, so she was a mafia princess. LOL!

      And I can relate to your statement about your imagination being your best friend. Me too!

      E

  2. taristhread Says:

    Yep, me too! I had every kind of doll created at the time, Barbie’s, Mary Poppins, Pebbles, Giggles….my favorites were the Little Kiddles!! They came in lockets and were like 2 or 3 inches tall. I played with my dolls for hours and hours making up stories for their lives. I never really thought about that as a training ground for writing romance, but without a doubt it was. Most of my dolls are long gone, but it’s funny, my mother has started replacing them for me as birthday gifts. She’s given me Pebbles and Mary Poppins, some Barbies, but no Little Kiddles…I may have to see if I can find any on ebay!!

    Well, heck, now I want to go play dolls, but I guess I’ll settle for writing!!!

  3. amberautry Says:

    I wrote church plays and songs when I was a preteen. I also made musical numbers to christian songs that I listened too. Now that I’m grown, I find myself writing and loving romance. I even started a serialzed romance fiction story. I love it. I wish I got that into barbies when I was younger, but I was more of an outdoorsy person. Creating fun games and worlds outside. I love making houses or hideouts. I hope the best to you and that you will be published soon.

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