Why I Create

I like stories.

When I was a kid, I didn’t have a whole lot of video games or other toys. I did have a whole lot of books, though. I read everything I could on the shelves at my house (including my dad’s computer programming manuals) and those days when my parents agreed to buy me a new book was Christmas come early.

I also liked to make up stories. I’d spend hours with the odds and ends and spare parts in my toy bucket and I’d create. I’d build an imaginary world, weave in characters from various cartoons and video games, and create fantastic scenarios. In my 10 year old mind, it made sense that characters from Street Fighter II can coexist in the same universe with characters from Tale Spin.

As I got older, I moved from stories to music. I was a ten year old with less than 2 years of piano lessons when I threw some notes on a piece of lined paper and then took it to the piano in hopes that it would be a masterpiece. Alas, it wasn’t to be… but that didn’t stop me from trying over and over again. I wrote instrumentals in 10th grade and I was mocked by my friends over the titles for my some of my pieces. I wrote songs for church, played them during worship time, and received an overly polite response for my efforts.

When I hit college, I moved from music to stories again, studying screenwriting and novel writing in between classes. I participate in NaNoWriMo for three years, completed the 50,000 word limit twice, and the one story that I didn’t finish ended up becoming my first full-length novel attempt four years later.

After college, I went from stories to music again and stayed here ever since.

At one point, I strongly considered throwing in the towel and giving up on my dreams of making it in music. I looked back at the years of money, sweat, and tears that I had invested into writing and improving as a musician and the only thing I had to show for it was a miniscule audience who liked my stuff but wasn’t willing to invest in it.

And yet, I can’t help it. Every time I wanted to give up, I’d discover a new riff, a new piece of melody, something that would speak to me and before I knew it, I was back in the studio again.

I create because I’m compelled to create. I can’t help it.

Song and instrumental ideas pop into my head at all hours of the day. New riffs and melodies come as I’m waking up, in the shower, when I’m driving, when I’m reading, when I’m eating, when I’m watching a movie. If I’m waiting in line for anything, my mind is in overdrive thinking about how I should structure a piece or how I can refine the drumming on a song. I’ll rewatch certain movie over and over again not because of the story but because I want to absorb as much as I can from the score.

I sit down with my guitar to learn a song that someone else wrote or to just noodle and I’ll accidentally stumble upon a riff or melody idea. If that happens, then forget the song that I was learning; I have to capture and develop my idea first.

I can’t begin to count the number of times that I went to Guitar Center to try out an amp or a guitar and I ended up spending an hour there because my noodling led me to an interesting riff that I memorized and then rushed home to immortalize on paper.

The time from when I was about five until now is marked by one creative effort after another. I wrote stories, wrote songs, assembled computer programs, created screenplays, and composed instrumentals. There wasn’t a single period of my life where I wasn’t creating something.

At some point, I realized that I can’t give up. I’ve devoted so much time to this endeavor that I will see it to the end or die trying. This compulsion to create is what drove me back here… and this compulsion is the thing that’s going to keep me going.

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