Limitations

Blog No. 70

I consider myself a creative person.  As far back as I can remember, I’ve always had a spark of something that has made me able to create things (like stories) without much trouble.  I would tell my friend all the stories I came up with and boast that whatever the newest idea would be my next (or first) great short story or novel or script.  I would never write it of course.  (Not until years later when I bumped into a little writing group and we all started Adventure Worlds).  I still come up with stories on a whim and I still boast about all the great stories I’m going to write, but I’ve always been limited to just stories.  Sure I’d want to write those scripts, and I’d love to do a comic (I have a great idea I’ve been sitting on) but I can’t draw.  (I can’t direct or film either, but those are usually left to experts anyway).

While I have a seemingly limitless supply of creativity, there are a lot of skills I lack, which means I have a limited number of things I can create and one of the biggest creative limitations I have (in my own opinion) is not being able to draw.  You may be saying (or you could say it in the comments) that anyone can learn to draw.  Like most things in life, drawing is a skill, and if you throw enough time and effort at any skill anyone can become reasonably proficient at it.  I could work on the skill but I don’t have any talent for drawing.  Talent is a whole other thing that can be a huge help or a stumbling block.  I see talent as a stepstool.  When you learn a skill that you already have a talent for, you get that extra boost.  But if you have talent and don’t build the skill, you’re going to stall out and those who work on the skill with get much further.

So I fit into that category where I don’t have any natural talent and I haven’t built up any skill.  (People who can’t draw say a lot of things, but I literally have trouble with stick people).  Without any talent the thought of learning to draw is exhausting.  Besides, at this point I’m still putting the effort into becoming a decent writer.  That’s another area where I’m not very talented.  I have more talent for writing that I do for drawing, but most of my writing ability has come from my working at the skill (and from reading and studying literature).  When it comes to writing things other than stories, my lack of talent is a bit more evident.

Thankfully I have that idea machine I call my brain (though I could probably come up with a much cooler name).  I think it comes right from childhood.  I always had a vivid and readily available imagination.  I would make things up and play pretend.  Every movie or TV show I watched I would try to figure out a character for me to join in with.  I still do that.  I’m not saying I’m Calvin, but I still fight invisible ninjas (and flip off the bed) when I get up in the mornings.  It may have had something to do with not having a lot of friends, but, now that I think of it, it may have contributed to me not having a lot of friends.

If my creativity came from my imagination as a child (and my attempt to be a part of the moves I loved) that’s probably where my sci-fi affinity came from too.  Again, it could be that I like sci-fi movies because that’s the stuff I would come up with, but I’m guessing it’s the other way around.  Christian made a good argument for it over on his blog (http://christianlaforet.wordpress.com/).  He is a horror author for the most part and he believes that came from what he watched as a kid.  Horror is another limitation I have. On the other hand I am good at comedy (according to Justin at least).  I think that has to do with confidence and personal appeal.  I don’t think I’m scary (or what I write is scary) but I do think I’m funny (I get a real kick out of myself) and other people agree with me.  It’s attitude and knowing how to play to the audience.  Christian is a horror fan and has the experience, so he knows the audience.  I wasn’t allowed to watch a horror film until I was at least nine or ten (and by then I found it a bit funny) so I have no idea what works in the genre, but I can make fun of it, so I do try to write funny things.

I could work at horror and study it and eventually get good enough to scare a few people, but I’ll never be as good as Christian.  He’s got the talent and he works on the skill.  He can write sci-fi too.  Damn.  Maybe I should just let him do it all?  Or maybe I shouldn’t be telling you about how good he is.  But it’s too late for that.  I’d better just work more on my writing skills and maybe one day I can start knocking things off my list of limitations.  Though for now I’ll have to leave the drawing to others and hope my writing is good enough to entice some artists to come do some drawing for me.  I’m working on it.

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4 thoughts on “Limitations

  1. Just a quick comment (will come back for a longer one in the morning LOL) — Both yourself and Christian are two of the most talented and diversely creative people I have come across. Each of you have so many ideas and concepts and formats you want to explore and I am definitely sure that if you had the right idea come to you no matter what Genre you would blow it out of the park. Just saying and yeah I’m not biased at all 🙂

    1. Where’s that longer comment?
      Thanks, but I think knowing what our limitations are helps us to better attack them when we get up the nerve to do so. Knowing my lack of ability in horror has led me to seek help from others who have more of a connection to it. Hopefully it’ll pay off in the end.

  2. Christian Laforet

    I think we all have those limitations, Ben. I’ve tried several times–very unsuccessfully–to write a drama. No matter how far I get, it just doesn’t gel. In the end I usually throw in a deformed freak and some bloody mayhem and bingo, a horror story lol.
    I think all you can do is keep trying new things and it will come–hopefully 🙂

    1. That’s a good point. I’ve done the same thing before. Just add a space ship and it seems to all come together. But that’s where outside editing and mentoring helps. With the raw talent for writing in general, we can keep pushing the boundaries.

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