Milestones and Playing for an Audience

I bumped into myself the other day–the child me that is.

On Tuesday I went to a concert in the park with my wife and her parents. It was a typical small town affair held at our bandshell with a bunch of enthusiastic amateur musicians sharing their joy and talents. The audience paid intermittent attention to the music while they ate pie and ice cream sold by one of the local community groups. The reason I mention it here is the little girl.

A tiny blonde, maybe 5 years old, she was standing on the grass between audience and band and very obviously pretending that the former were there to watch her and the latter to provide her with background music while she performed a silent play. At the end of the first number when the audience clapped she made a big show of bowing to everyone there. I remember being that little girl–okay, so I was a boy, but the intent was the same.

Sometime when I was very young, call it 5, I started telling stories to anyone who would listen, mostly myself in those days. I don’t remember a time where I didn’t love the stories or having an audience. Somewhere along the line I learned that there were people who got to do it for a career and I never looked back. That led me into theater at the ripe old age of 11 where I stayed until I got my first computer and wrote a novel at 22—right after finishing a BA in theater.

I’ll be turning 40 on Sunday and yet in so many ways I’m still that kid playing make believe at the concert. The business side of the business can be a royal pain, but the storytelling and playing for an audience are still a blast 35 years on. So, to that little girl–go for it, kid! You never know where it might lead. Someday someone might even pay you to entertain yourself. Oh, and the audience too.

2013 Update: With my 46th birthday coming up in a bit over a month and having just started writing my 20th novel. This. Still, and always.

(Published on the Wyrdsmiths blog August 20th 2007, and before that at SFnovelists. Original comments may be found at both sites. Reposted and reedited as part of the reblogging project and getting all of these in one place.)