Appease the Beast

"It doesn't matter how long it takes, I will never give up."

That's what I told myself on a daily basis after I graduated high school back in '95.  I wanted to tell stories.  It was that simple.  There are lots of ways to do that, but I almost didn't care.  I started up a company with my older brother at 19 years old.  This company involved creating dyanimic, live action, puzzle driven story adventures that people could act out and experience.  It was the perfect platform for brings stories to life, but I quickly realized it wasn't for me, even though I loved it.  What did I know about starting a business?  Nothing.  I wasn't ready.

So, I partnered up with my best friend shortly after.  We had similar interests in comic books and animation.  He was extremely talented, but it eventually fell apart after I realized he enjoyed the idea of being an animator infinitely more than he enjoyed actually doing it.  I didn't have his talent, so it was difficult to continue the direction of telling stories the way I wanted to tell them, simply because my skills weren't there.

Good news!  There's a solution to that.  I just needed to acquire those skills, right?
So, how did I do it?

I went and got a job as a software engineer and started a career that took me in the opposite direction of where my dreams were.  I had a knack for programming back when the Internet first boomed in the late 90's and, instantly, I had high-paying career in web development.  I was on the fast-track for a healthy and prosperous life, and off-track for a truly happy one.

The storytelling beast inside of me has been cranky for a very long time.  Through my off-track career, I poked at storytelling in many ways.  I've written countless unpublished short stories in an attempt to "appease the beast", but it was never enough.  I made a short feature-length, micro-budget film in 2009 that was arguably the greatest learning experience of my life, however it didn't end up being what I originally set out to create.  Like I said, "learning experience".  I've studied art, digital and traditional.  I've educated myself in 3D graphics and animation dating back to the first versions of command line utilities like POV-ray and eventually progressing to software studios like Lightwave, 3D Studio Max and Blender.  I spent 5 years spending my lunch breaks at book stores reading about guerilla film making, story formatting and development, traditional animations, graphic novel production, and on and on and on.  The keyword to take away from this is "educated".  I didn't actually "do".  Instead of picking a direction and running with it, I simply moved on to the next topic and learned more about that.  Whereas the knowledge has proven useful over and over again, I was never able to find a path that was even semi-permanent.

I turned 41 this year.  My life is probably at least half over and I have not even begun to put into the world that thing that I was meant to put in.  You know... that "thing" that you know in your heart you were put here to do?  It's different for all of us, but I believe everyone has a calling, whether they choose to listen or not.

Mine is storytelling.  I have to do it.  I have to.  I am miserable if I don't.  Am I good at it?  Do I suck at it?  That has nothing to do with it.  I simply have to.  

I've tried the filmmaking avenue and it's awesome.  I can't say I'm done with it, but one of the things that I took away from it is, although you have opportunities to redo things that need correcting, it is usually at the expense of someone else's time and/or money.  If you don't get the shot right and have to reshoot it, it usually requires calling the actors back and the crew back that helped you get the shot in the first place.  Maybe it's a normal and accepted thing in the industry, but only if you have a budget to be able to cover such mistakes.  At this time, since I don't have much of a budget, I need something that I don't have to get right the first time.  It needs to be something that can be fixed 100%, not patched and be 75% of what I originally wanted.  When all is said and done, it needs to end up being exactly what I have in my head.  I won't settle for anything less this time.

I just reread everything I wrote in the post.  There is the kind of "desperate confidence" to it.  Don't you think?  It needs to be rewritten, but you know what?  I'm going to leave it.  It's real and this is a turning point for me.

So, let's tell some stories.

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