Some days, when I’m weary and nearly out of energy, I’ll lay on my back and recall the early days of my life where I began to build worlds from my imagination, and the companions I had who helped flesh them out, give them substance, and populate them with the outlandish and the extreme.
It helps to remember where you came from, I think.
My brothers and I would spend many of our weekends building whole worlds from legos.
We had hospitals. We had jets. Robots. Mechanized suits. Giant cannons. Destroyers. Factories. It was endless. My brothers shared at room, and had a strange closet that was set into the wall six feet up off the floor, and it had a square shaped door that scraped noisily against the ceiling when it opened. The house had come like that, and we were never entirely sure what purpose it had had, or if it had really been a closet.
But it was cool.
And if you looked inside, you’d have been surprised to see how much we’d fit in there. Certainly more than you’d think was possible.
At one point, my brother built a plane with a house on top, and there were strong objections to it’s inclusions in the storyline due to it’s sheer impracticality.
You don’t break the sound barrier with a house on the back of your plane, we told him.
But, ultimately, we didn’t stifle creativity. Everything was welcome. Everything was fair game. And it was exciting. Some days we’d have a “Lego Show”, where we acted out sequences from a long, convoluted storyline I’d written myself. We often had to double up on the roles, or even triple up, in order to cover all the characters.
My brother had a character named “Blade”, who wore yellow. He was also half crazy. He owned the plane with the house on the top, mind you, so it kinda… makes sense.
At the conclusion of one particular story sequence, which included the death of a long-standing “bad guy”, one of my brothers began to sniffle as he attempted to hold back tears.
I was caught off guard, but also intrigued. I asked him what was wrong.
He told me: “It’s… it’s just so sad.”
Decades later, I still remember those words. I had set out to write a story, and although actions sequences, explosions, subterfuge and stealth were all tools I was still trying to leverage successfully, one thing I hadn’t considered was the emotional impact of death.
I had made him feel something.
I’d made him feel sad that a bad guy had died.
A story is many things… all sewn, welded and hacked together. It’s one thing to carve out something awesome, and memorable, and which grants you a sense of victory and accomplishment…
…but it’s another thing entirely to see your work has had an impact on someone.
For me, it’s seeing the emotional impact of my work that’s the true payout, even though I rarely witness it myself.
I create things every day of my life, and their completion is akin to dessert.
But… seeing that I’ve made someone feel something is like seeing a rainbow: it’s a rare, precious thing to behold.
Thus, when people take the time to voice such things, it means a great deal to me. It means everything.