The Racket #26 : CHILDHOOD w/ Ingrid Rojas Contreras
Poster by Ryan Tovani.
january 31st - adobe books - 7pm
Sweet childhood of mine.
We want to be honest, right out of the gate here: we had a really nice childhood. The type of gag-inducing suburban upbringing that involved a nuclear family, a fence (chain link not picket), apple trees and (we're not kidding) not one, but two golden retrievers with alliterative names. We mowed lawns or cleared roofs for our elderly neighbors for cash in the summers. We had block parties with the other children on our cul-de-sac that involved red checkered table clothes and fireworks and parents standing in loose circles sipping cold bottles of Bud Light. We went to a decidedly pleasant public high school, and sure you could see a strip club, a porno shop and a gambling establishment from the tennis courts, but the thespian society put on Cinderella and Twelfth Night and people gave their significant others their letterman jackets with not even a whiff of irony. We were, and are, the obnoxious adults at the party who stay awkwardly quiet when everyone talks about how much they hated high school.
Because, well, we liked high school. Hell, we loved our whole damn childhood.
And more often then not as a writer these days, enjoyment of your childhood isn't a fact you're screaming from the rooftops. Childhood, inevitable developmental necessity that it is, helps to build the scrapes and scars and still weeping wounds that fuel your writing as an adult. The emotional traumas of our youth become the backbones of the characters, the themes, the narratives of our older selves. This isn't us proclaiming envy for those who've had fucked up childhoods, nothing could be further from the truth. This us exposing our own insecurities as writers.
For years we've been self-conscious about the smoothness, the happiness of our years as kids because we've wondered: what darkness can we draw from? What pain has festered in us? What story of our youth would anyone give a shit about?
Which is why we chose it as a theme. Which is why we choose all of our themes.
Because childhood (or THE BODY or THE FUTURE or THE WEST or any number of the other 25 topics we've given to our talented writers) are basically just undefined holes in which one can dump their emotions into. Raw blocks of wood to hack at with the dull axe of our minds until something, anything, starts to take shape. Childhood is an uber-theme, a vast bucket that contains every shade of light and dark, encompasses every genre, makes room for the full spectrum of emotion.
Which is what we, bearers of the most enjoyable milquetoast of childhoods, are drawn towards: the chance that a writer can share amazing stories from their own experiences, no matter what they may be.