one family's yearlong dare to live their dreams

Sparking the Creative Fire


Fireworks in Woodstock. Yes, they do them in August here, just to be different.

When I was a kid, I frequently had the urge to “make something cool.” But my model airplanes and ships never came out right. The glue smeared, the paint showed finger prints, the masts and propellers tilted at crazy angles.

There was a kid at my school who made his own tusken raider costume, inspired by the just-released first Star Wars movie. The mask was a rendition of the buck-toothed beast done in papier mache, complete with red light-up eyes. It was beautiful, flawless, untouchable.

I wasn’t a maker, I realized. People who were seemed like magicians to me. Still do, and that’s why I’ve made a career of writing about them.

But what to do with that urge to create? As a boy I read constantly, while walking to and from school, in bed at night, every chance I got. Novels, comic books, nonfiction books, it was all cool. Entire worlds held together with stables and glue between colorful covers. I wanted to make my own worlds, and to my great satisfaction, I found that I could. I taught myself to touch type on an old manual typewriter when I was eight. One of my first stories was a humorous alien invasion tale called “The Coming of the Goozer.”

Now, as an adult, even though I’ve made writing my living, there lingers still that urge to make something cool. I love writing about other people’s cool projects. But I still want to make one of my own.

This month, Wendy and I are focusing on creativity as part of our live-for-our-dreams project. I’ve picked up the threads of a kid’s science fiction series I started years ago and haven’t found the time to finish in the midst of big people’s deadlines. Yesterday, while immersed in my story of time-traveling trains, I had a breakthrough when starship appeared on the outer fringes of the solar system and homed in on our rocky little planet. It all makes sense now, who built the time traveling trains, and why. Wendy’s been working on the poetry that she loves and that has similarly been pushed aside over the years.

I believe we all need our own cool projects to work on. Something to lose ourselves in, something no one else need even know about. Maybe its a garden. Perhaps some metal and wood contraption in the basement. Or a knitted sweater or just a perfectly executed vacation. Don’t call it a hobby; that’s an ugly, demeaning word. Instead call it soul work, as opposed to money work. The creative spark resides within all of us. The only question is, what to do about it.

What’s your cool project? If you don’t have one going, what would you like to start, and what excites you about it? Post a comment to share.

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