This week on of my regular readers, whose blog you should check out, asked me an interesting question.
What got you into writing, anyway?
Specifically, she wanted to know because writing fiction is not something typically looked upon fondly by others in “my profession 1.” This got me thinking, and led me to begin with one simple sentence in response.
I see things.
Most kids grow up making up stories for their toys or environment, it’s part of how we learn as human beings. On the other hand, we have a societal system which expects kids to “grow up” and leave imaginative narrative behind so “real” learning can take place.
I guess in some ways I never “grew up.” I need to create narratives in order to form connections, and when I’m confronted with an object I often find myself envisioning it as something else entirely.
Aside from Legos 2, perhaps my earliest remembrance of this part of my psyche is the TV remote we had in the 80’s. It was a Zenith TV 3, and the remote was extra thick and twice as wide as any remote I’d ever seen. It took four double-a batteries and had more buttons than I’d ever seen on a remote control. The right side had the typical numbers and input switching with which we are all familiar with today. The left side, however, had a grid of buttons designed to control just about any media device on the market 4. It was probably the first universal remote I ever held.
The grid of buttons on the left reminded me of city streets, and the shape of the remote looked to me like a starship. So I began to wonder, “What type of ship would have city streets across it’s face?” Rather quickly I came to a conclusion, it was a colony ship, meant to land and become the basis for a new city on some distant world. To this day I can’t see a TV remote control which doesn’t make me wonder what class of starship it is, and what factors give it its unique shape.
To be honest, this happens with more than TV remotes. Quite a few everyday items trigger my imagination this way. Razors, pens, even mobile phones all evoke a sense of design which begs to have a story told.
This spark of imagination is also why Welcome to the Valleys is based off a Minecraft world. As I explored further and further from my starting point, and built settlement after settlement, I began to wonder about the culture of this expansive realm — so I wrote it.
And that is why I’m compelled to write, because when I see things in the world they call me to tell a story. For years I did this all in my head, but now I’m distilling my thoughts down for others to see. I don’t claim to be a skilled writer, but my works are my contribution to the continuance of imagination and narrative. Because without stories, life becomes greatly dismissed.
- I’m a pastor. And, sadly, fiction does have a rather unsavory reputation among clergy from across a wide swatch of denominations. It’s by no means universal, but it’s also not uncommon ↩
- Which are awesome and is something of which every adult should have an abundance. ↩
- I think. ↩
- It was the first time I’d seen “laserdisc” as an option. ↩