When I was little, the thing I enjoy doing most of all was creating worlds with my older sister and younger brothers. Our building blocks were made of wood, plastic, and pretty much anything else we could get our hands on. We made pirate ships out of Tinker Toys, and cities out of blocks and plastic tracks for toy cars. We populated them with plastic soldiers and plastic animals. But these weren’t just toys in my mind. Assembling these worlds was only the first step. When everything was ready, the stories began. A zebra could be a queen, a soldier a king. And the stories that could grow out of them were as endless as childhood days.
Already back then, I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up: I wanted to create worlds.
Of course, I soon discovered that THAT job was already taken. (And what a fine job the Creator doing, too. I particularly love the Many World theory. If I could, I would also create an infinite number of worlds.)
The next best thing in my mind then was to create worlds by making movies or TV shows. After all, filmmakers get to create worlds that have a physical reality. You can see a movie. You can hear it. And what you see and what you hear are determined by the creators of that movie. I wanted to be one of those creators.
And then I grew up.
I discovered that to the most part filmmaking is a collaborative process. I might have a vision of this world that I want to create, but if I try to turn that into a movie I’ll have to deal with many other people who will want to impose their vision of what this world should be. And I didn’t want to have to deal with people like that. Sure, collaborating was fun when my sister and my brothers generally agreed about the rules of the stories we were creating. But it wouldn’t have been at all fun if someone had grabbed the toy zebra and said, “Don’t be ridiculous. A zebra can’t be a queen!
So for a while, I locked the part of myself that wanted to create worlds away. It’s not that I stopped creating stories; I could no more do that than a singer could give up singing or a dancer could give up dancing. Creating stories is a part of who I am. I do it from the time I wake up to time I fall asleep. But I gave up on the idea of sharing my stories with others. I watched them play on the little screen in my mind. My characters made me laugh and cry and smile, and that was enough.
Life went on. Writing and drawing turned into things I did for newspapers and magazines, things I did for a living. And I loved it, until I had to quit when we moved back to the USA so that we could find a better school for my autistic son.
Without a job, I had to ask myself what I wanted to do.
And then I remembered how I felt when I was a little kid building worlds out of wooden blocks and plastic toys. I remembered wanting to create worlds. And I thought about all those worlds that were already a part of me. Those characters had given me so much. What if there were others who needed these stories and these characters as much as I did? So I decided to write those stories down and share them with the world.
I love writing stories. It makes me happy. I love spending time with Toren the Teller, Gilbert and Amber from the Legend of Gilbert the Fixer, and most of my other characters. I also love sharing them with you. When Gilbert says something that makes me laugh, I get a second smile on my face, just thinking about how it’s going to make you laugh, too. There’s no way I’m giving that up.
But lately, I’ve been thinking about that dream that I gave up on, my dream of being a filmmaker.
Times have changed.
When I was a teenager, there was no such thing as YouTube. My sister, my younger brothers and I sometimes made short videos. We lip-synched “We Are the World.” (My sister did a great Bob Dylan.) We played with perspective, so my brother could stand on my hand. We used stop motion to make a Play-Doh snake swallow a plastic tank after the tank ran over it. I remember one stop-motion piece I made on my own with scissors dancing in what looked like a ballet. These videos were so much fun to make, but probably not more than a dozen people got to see any of them, and I have no idea where they are now.
Nowadays, though, anyone can make a video and share it with the world. I couldn’t make my dream come true back then, but is there really anything stopping me now?
So I went out and bought the equipment. I’ve got a brand-new video camera, and even a teleprompter. And I’m excited! I’m going to be making videos, and I have so many ideas for them.
I plan to create a channel where I talk about the things I love: movies, tech, TV shows, books, games, and more. Too often great things disappear because not enough people hear about them. I want to try to make a difference, and I want to use video to do it.
I know it’s not the same thing as creating worlds, but the worlds I create are still too big for the kind of budget an amateur like me can afford to produce on video. That’s okay, though. Like I said, there’s no limit to how big a world I can create on paper, and I plan to continue doing just that.
Is there something you loved doing when you were little or something you wanted to do when you grew up? If so, what’s stopping you from doing it now?
It doesn’t have to be big. Just take a small step in the right direction.
Make a video and post it on YouTube. Publish a short book with CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. Go to one of those studios that let you take home a painting you’ve made yourself. (I’ve done that, and it’s fun.)
|The painting I made at Make Me, Take Me. It's not a fine work of art, but it was fun to make and I like it.|
If you have the chance to rediscover something that once brought you so much joy, why wouldn’t you take it?