by Kristi Parker Johnson
I’ve always been a very creative person, but lately I feel like my creativity is lost. I have no idea where it could be. I’m sure I put it somewhere for safe-keeping but, as is my usual with keys, Christmas gifts and passwords, I can’t remember where.
My creativity first emerged when I was young girl. I started writing poetry and short stories when I was 6 and won some children’s poetry contests when I was 7. When I was 9, I started a neighborhood newspaper — The Yucca Trail News. My newsroom was my parents’ bedroom; my desk was a folding card table where I banged out news tidbits on my mom’s old black Underwood typewriter. The news stories consisted of mostly gossip from the ’hood, such as this breaking news report from June 1973: “Derek and Joey rode their bikes to 7-11 yesterday. The Slurpee was good, said Derek. Kathleen and Kristi asked them to bring back some candy but they didn’t.”
In junior high, I was chosen for the school’s annual staff. The selection process was arduous. Applicants had to maintain A averages, have good writing skills and submit several recommendation letters from teachers and other adults. I was honored to be chosen because I felt I had really earned my place on the staff. As a socially awkward, perpetually shy teenager who never won any sort of “popularity contest,” I learned the value of my talent and passion for writing.
Even after I married and started a family, I continued writing and being creative. I wrote poetry mostly and created arts and crafts projects with inexpensive supplies like white men’s handkerchiefs and paint pens. I also took great pride in creatively decorating our homes using garage sale finds, hand-me-downs and antiques of questionable quality. I like to think I was the first to have a country-themed decorating scheme. My homes were country before country was cool.
In the early 1990s, I was offered my first newspaper job based on some short essays I sent in to the local newspaper. I didn’t think I wanted to be a journalist, but I did like to write. So I took the job.
Fast forward 20 years, and here I am, still working in the newspaper business. Over the years, I advanced from beat reporter to investigative reporter to editor. I even started my own weekly newspaper in the Hill Country.
See, I enjoy creating things, through writing, artistic endeavors and businesses. I love making something out of nothing. My creativity has taken me far in life and given me so many wonderful and interesting experiences.
But the older I get, the harder it is to tap into that creativity. I believe several things are to blame, mainly age and experience. When I was younger, I had bright stars in my eyes and was not yet touched by the realities of life. I believed in romance and fairy tales and thought everything was grand and wonderful. If it wasn’t, I thought it could be if only I wished and prayed hard enough.
As I grew older, I lost my youthful optimism. The cool stars in my eyes slowly dimmed and faded away, replaced by the warm, comfortable voice of reason. My life now is steady and stable, for the first time, and I’m married to a wonderful, loving, hard-working man. My romantic angst-ridden days are over and, it seems, so are my poetry writing days.
Maybe my creativity is not so much lost, but redirected. I just need to figure out what path it decided to take. As with other aspects of getting older, such as not being able to do the things I used to do, I’ve got to adapt and make the best of what I’ve got.
Now if I could just find those Christmas presents I bought last summer for the grandkids, I’d be good.