Monday, June 16, 2014

The Creativity Issue and Harris Burdick: Guest Post by Kara Reynolds

About a year ago, I decided to dust off an old NaNoWriMo project and consider myself more seriously as a writer. To show his support, my husband gave me a subscription to Writer’s Digest magazine for Christmas. I get excited every time it shows up in my mailbox, and I got especially excited this month.

Yes, that is my excited face. Well, half of it.

The Creativity Issue. I have struggled with being creative throughout my life. Coming up with ideas for anything, be it a novel idea or the perfect Christmas present, has always been difficult for me. As someone who loves to write, this hurts particularly badly. So I loved the idea of an issue of my magazine dedicated to developing creativity. I particularly enjoyed the article “50 Writing Prompts for Every Part of Your Brain,” and plan on using them when I need inspiration.

There was also an excellent article on magical realism, but that’s another post for another day.
When I was in fifth grade, my class was taken to the school computer lab every week for typing lessons. Once we graduated from the keyboarding program we were assigned story prompts for the rest of the year. One week stands out in particular, because that week my teacher introduced us to a book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.

This book was magic. The author, Chris Van Allsburg, explained in a short introduction that a man named Harris Burdick had given fourteen drawings to an editor named Peter Wenders, in the hopes that Mr. Wenders would be interested in the books that went along with those pictures. Mr. Wenders asked Harris Burdick to come back the next day with the stories, but Harris Burdick disappeared…
We were told to pick a picture and write a story for it, and boy was I enchanted. That day the words flowed out of me like never before as I created a story about a basement under siege by tiny creatures.

The title of the picture is Uninvited Guests.

It was years before I realized that Harris Burdick wasn’t real. But the desire to write, to craft words to accompany the feelings and images in my head, that was real, and the imaginary Harris Burdick played a significant role in my love of writing that continues today, seventeen years later. I consider him my muse.

Kara Reynolds is a lapsed genetic counselor who spends her days corralling two small boys and daydreaming about characters in books. Her blog, The Reynolds Tribe (, is updated sporadically with funny stories about her kids and musings on writing. Find her on Twitter: @reynoldstribe


Angelica R. Jackson said...

I love van Allsburg's books! And yes, the Harris Burdick one is good for hours of imaginative fun--for young and old.

Jennifer Jensen said...

I've never heard of Harris Burdick before, but what a marvelous idea! And how delightful when a picture sparks an idea that just keeps flowing. Thanks!

YelenaC said...

That's so great!

Unknown said...

YOU, are awesome! love you!