I’ve wrapped up my first semester of graduate school, and now I’ve got a month until the next round of classes. I’m left to ponder what ways I could fill in the gap previously taken by studies.
Sure, I could play more video games. I could watch a TV show that I’ve been meaning to. I could read more. Those are things I usually wind up doing with the “me” time between home life, work life and sleeping.
Or, I could go to the creative outlet that’s been with me my whole life, yet gets neglected the most. Writing.
When I was a kid, I wrote stories all the time. Before computers, I’d scribble them out on paper, complete with stick figure-quality illustrations. Then, on some fateful day in about 1987, my family purchased our first computer – an Apple Macintosh (the first model).
For a lot of reasons, that led to an explosion of creativity for me. I’d play games that absolutely absorbed me – many of them text adventures from the likes of Infocom (you know, the Zork series, etcetera). Those text games alone are responsible for a significant percentage of my vocabulary.
I also drew stuff in MacPaint, but more importantly, with MacWrite and its successors, I was exposed to the world of word processing. With ideas spawned after playing hours of fantasy role playing games like Wizardry and Ultima III or text games like Infidel, Enchanter and Zork I, I’d fire up MacWrite and start coming up with adventures of my own.
The vast majority of those stories are long gone. A tiny few I have now, thanks to my brother. Bless her heart, my grandma had read and kept every single one of them, but those too are gone.
However, a whole lot of them still live on in my head. I have dozens upon dozens of stories or story fragments up there. I still think about them. Sometimes on a bike ride to work, I’ll mentally dust one off and conjure ways it could evolve.
Sadly, that’s where it ends. I haven’t really written anything in years. Even then, I’d usually start something up, then abandon it. There are maybe over a hundred unfinished works on my computer, Dropbox, Google Drive and elsewhere.
Why? The usual reasons go like this. It’s not “good enough”, or even worse “it’d never get published.” I know – not writing at all is better and gets published.
So why did I write so much as a kid and not so much as an adult? I’ve boiled it down to one big difference. I was fearless back then. I’d fire up the word processor and crank out a story. Some were 10 pages, single spaced with about a 12-point font. Some were 20. I think I wrote a couple that were over 50 pages.
I’d barely proofread or edit them. Maybe I’d go through once to catch terrible typos. Then, I’d make a cover through some graphics software, sometimes hand drawn, sometimes with clip art. Finally, I’d print it out on the dot matrix printer (and later, a fancy Apple Laserwriter), make a bunch of copies at my dad’s office, and share them with the family.
I didn’t care about how silly they might be, or if there was poor grammar. When I look at the few I have now, they are kind of embarrassing. But hell, I was a kid, and I had fun doing it.
That’s the point. Somewhere, I lost that swagger and now I’m tripped up worrying what others will think. Who cares? There’s a reason that so many of these stories still live in my head. Because they helped make me who I am today, and they are all bestsellers to me.
This post is the first of a series about creativity. Next time, I’m going to delve into the 1980’s a bit more, and share story ideas that up until that post only have lived in my brain….and what inspired them.
All of this has a purpose – I’m hoping by sharing my thoughts I actually get back into writing. Nothing else has worked – so wish me luck!
(And you know what, I know this post is long, rambling, and probably has typos, but I’m publishing it without proofreading, to get myself back into the spontaneity of it all!)
- Creativity – Me & the ’70s and ’80s
- Creativity – More Fun in the ’80s
- Creativity – The Late 80’s and 90’s
- Creativity – Then and Now