When I was in second grade, my teacher had a weekly writing assignment. She would give us a piece of paper with a scribble of some sort on the page, and she asked us to draw a picture using the “squiggle”. Then, we had to write a story about the picture.
She would give us something like this:
Then, we would have to draw a picture that included the squiggle (you couldn’t erase the squiggle; my teacher would make copies of a single squiggle that she drew with a thick, black marker). My teacher never gave us any limits; we were free to do anything we wanted to. It was hard to decide what to draw, but I had to make up my mind eventually. Here’s an example of a finished squiggle:
After that, we moved onto my favorite part: writing a story to go along with the squiggle. I remember I would never finish in class and would have to take my squiggle home to finish my story, a good two hours at the kitchen table. It was hard work, but writing stories made me happy because I could say a lot without having to speak. They were the best form of personal expression for stubbornly mute 7 year-old Maggie. I was so painfully shy, in fact, that whenever my teacher would read my squiggle stories out loud, I would ask my teacher to go to my backpack or the bathroom and hide until she was done reading. I also liked to hide from my second grade play practice. Though I only had a couple of lines, I couldn’t handle speaking in front of my classmates. I’m kind of embarrassed by how embarrassed I was back then, but that was me.
The squiggle drawing above illustrates one of my main modes of self-expression: music. When I first play pieces, I read notes and interpret mood on my own, no input from anywhere. Though it creates problems that I have to fix later, I play the piece according to what I feel the piece means, which generally entails playing the piano with reckless, error-laden abandon. No worries about tempo yet, no worries about all the right notes, my feelings only.
When it came to squiggle stories, I just let everything I was thinking seep out of my brain and manifest itself in pencil. Artistic talent was no requirement, but imagination? Oh that was mandatory.