Tuesday, August 3, 2010


All my life I've been a creative person. A lot of that stems from the fact my parents (mom especially) encouraged me to be so. Some of my earliest memories are of a little chalkboard set up in the hallway of our house. On this, I could draw and draw to my heart's content. Though I don't draw nearly as much as I used to, I have made a life out of being creative— working now as an Art Director for an advertising agency. But in my private life I am just as active. I always have projects of one kind or another going- or games I'm running. All of this is 'creative', and all of it requires energy to accomplish.

So how does this relate to Star Wars?

Well, simply put, Star Wars is probably one of the main reasons I am where I am today. It captured my imagination like nothing else had up until that point. Even before I saw the first movie, I was already starting to draw 'star wars inspired' art. I have vivid memories of being the only kid in my first grade class who could draw Stormtroopers. I also recall winning the weekly 'art contest' at school with a rendition of a scene from the movies (It was the heroes shooting it out with stormtroopers, I believe). It was here that I received a 'prize' in the form of a trip to a nearby dairy-queen (literally, across the playground from the school)- and got a FREE chocolate-dipped ice cream cone. It was here that I first equated being able to draw with GETTING STUFF I wanted (Not to mention that the attention and appreciation of my talent felt nice, too).

So I guess any 'real' artists would say that this is the moment I 'sold out'. Because art isn't about getting stuff, it's about expression and angst and.. yadda yadda. Agreed. Art is about that. But why the heck shouldn't you get paid to do something you love? Yes, working in the advertising business can be frustrating at times. Yes, your 'artistic vision' is sometimes compromised by practical or completely subjective concerns. But you know what? I'm okay with that. In my day to day life, I am constantly challenged with new 'problems' to solve and as much as I may gripe sometimes, there is something very rewarding about that. Believe me, I've worked enough crap jobs to know what the alternative is. Mindless slinging burgers or mopping floors isn't inspiring to me.

It was during my time at college, working crappy jobs, that I threw a lot of myself into gaming— particularly my Star Wars campaign. Between lack of inspiration elsewhere and years of energy pent up by isolation in the boonies of South Dakota, Its no wonder I was able to keep up with all-weekend gaming sessions and maybe even a couple during the week. We did this for a couple-three YEARS.

But honestly, as much as I love the campaign- as much as I love gaming in just about any form, there were (and are) times where I felt a bit burnt out. Oh, not in the 'I don't want to do this anymore' way. Honestly? I rarely (if ever) fall out of love with something. So it as never a matter of "I am sick of this game, I want to do something else". Rather, it is more like my batteries just run out after a while and I need time to recharge.

Case in point. I have loved my trips out to South Dakota recently for a gaming weekend. We play short but intense sessions in which a lot happens. It is a complete blast, and in the months leading up to the event (and after it) I am totally jazzed. But at the same time, I am thinking that I'm glad it is only for a couple days a year, because I don't know if I can muster that much creative energy continually.

I've been thinking about this recently, coming to think of myself more and more like a 'battery'. When work is REALLY intense (as it has been all summer this year), my battery never gets a chance to recharge. Hence the sudden slow down in my Star Wars sourcebook project and even my lack of extended preparation for the current small campaign I'm running with a couple friends here (a Firefly/Serenity game using D6). I LOVE running it. Every time I do we have good laughs and fun. And yet some weekends, I am just so drained that I don't think I can do it- until I actually do. Being a GM is work, even when you don't do a lot of preparation beforehand. It is being creative and thinking on your feet and no matter how enjoyable it is still a bit tiring (in a good way). It is also ironic in that there are times when a particularly good session can build up my creative energy- kind of like a Car battery. You need to use some of its energy to get things rolling, but once you do, the engine itself charges up the battery. Weird, isn't it?

Anyway, I think I am wandering off topic (and getting long-winded). What I'm trying to say is that for me, creative energy is definitely a 'real' thing. Sometimes I've got it, sometimes I don't. I just wish sometimes I had the energy of my 'youth'. Just a little bit of it. Oh, and some metabolism of my youth would be nice, too...

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