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C. Derick Miller
Your Stories On Video
I remember vividly being a teenager, spending all my after-school time in our local mall’s video game arcade pumping quarter after quarter into a random machine for a couple of minutes worth of electronic fun. As time progressed and those video games evolved, some developer had the bright idea of making them to where you could continue where you left off for an additional twenty-five cents. The machine would even ask you aloud:
Then, the countdown began.
You get the idea. My anxiety would increase as the numbers decreased. “What do I do?” I’d ask myself frantically. I was a horrible decision maker back then, freezing up when stressful situations would arise. The army changed all that. Now, I’m still a horrible decision maker, but only because I jump to the nearest conclusion and fight my way to victory. Life would probably be a lot easier if I chose correctly. Just thought about the right thing to do for a second or two and react accordingly. Nope, I normally take the hard way and battle to the death.
Have you ever heard the legend of “The Crossroads” that the old blues musicians sing about? There’s a great movie around that legend from the 80’s starring The Karate Kid (Ralph Macchio) titled Crossroads. It’s about risking it all to be the person you want to be or fighting for your soul to get back to who you once were. Depend on your point of view.
Every aspect of my life has been this way for as far as I can remember. Careers, relationships, restaurant menus, etc. I HATE making decisions, especially those that will somehow affect my life drastically. I think this is why I enjoyed my school years and the military so much. Granted, I’m not a fan of people telling me what to do (at least I wasn’t when that’s what those in authority were doing) but I loved it when my life was laid out for me. Day after day, I knew exactly what I was doing. Minimal surprises.
Here lately, I’ve been having some issues in my fiction writing career when it comes to creativity. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the toxic fandom within my selected genre or perhaps some of the negative reviews I’ve received on my latest work by those who judge the entire novel by the first chapter. It’s a rather harsh way to interpret art, especially by those who are incapable of expressing themselves artistically. Still, it’s (modern) human nature to find fault, exploit it, and destroy the above mentioned art with a group of like-minded critics. Those who can’t create, criticize. Those who can’t play, coach. Those who can’t live, encourage melancholy. I could go on and on, but you already know this.
Anyway, I was sincerely thinking about throwing in the towel (creatively) for a while just to see where it led me. After all, a mental break is just as important as a physical break, isn’t it? The brain can sometimes rival the strongest muscles when it comes to fatigue. Let’s face it, for us creative types, the pandemic has wiped us out. No, I can’t speak for everyone, but I gladly speak for some. It’s affecting most artists I know in one way or another. Some are like me and can’t spit out an interesting story to save their life! Others have been driven into high gear and can’t stop. I wish I was the latter of the two, but I’m not.
Then, you have situations like the one I encountered this morning. I awoke to this little blurb of encouragement from a fellow writer on one of my social media pages. I’ll paraphrase:
“For me (this book) felt like a book that could be only written by one person once. It is no small feat to make me genuinely feel so many mixed emotions along the ride and man, that catharsis at the end! That is some serious storytelling!! I just loved every bit of it and, as a writer, I was just inspired by the fact that ‘you can do that’. Works like (this) just epitomize the fact that we all have our special interests, our faults, and our passions as artists, and we should really embrace them 110% to make the art only we can make…and forget the rest. That fire is not felt by everyone, but the few who do will have the time of their life with your stuff.”
This author was absolutely right! By not writing fiction or creating, I was choosing to live a passionless life…and what kind of a life is that? Sure, we’re all living in some of the darkest times we’ve ever encountered in our own lifetime, or in the lifetime of our parents, but should we negate who we are as people because of it?
We’re all unique individuals. Every single one of us. Yet, over the last 18 months, we’ve all been grouped into the lone category of “survivors”. Most of us can’t seem to think about much else and I’m no different. At the end of the day, I have a wife, children, and grandchildren to think about. Creative writing should be the very last thing rattling around in my brain but it’s the one thing I can’t seem to stop thinking about! Is prioritizing my life the same as living in fear? Is it paranoia?
In the end, the author’s words won me over, but it wasn’t until I’d pondered the possibilities for eight hours or so. Ultimately, he’s right. I am C. Derick Miller, and I am a writer. Writers write. Without writing, I’m someone else, and that’s something I never wanted to be. I like me. I like most things about me and I’m working on the ones I don’t. It’s a tough time to be alive on the planet Earth right now but thank the powers-that-be I’m alive. Since I am, I might as well make the best of it to be the best ‘me’ I can be!
What about you? Have you ever been at “The Crossroads”? Have you ever sat there with your head in your hands, your heart racing, praying to the heavens that someone would intervene to make this life altering decision for you? Have you ever truly been at the end of the proverbial rope, only to be saved at the last minute by the kind words of a complete stranger? These are the conundrums of the true artist, the sleepless nights that celebrities rarely speak of on their way to success.
What is it that got you through to where you are today? Was it the kind words of a friend or family member who boosted you up and made you realize your potential? Was it someone you didn’t even know who accidentally stumbled upon your time of need and gave you the one hint you needed to pull yourself out of your own despair? Was it faith in a higher power who gave you the sign you were looking for to make it to the next level?
Yes, I ask a lot of questions, but this is my job! Here at Your Stories On Video, we want to know! This is your life’s story and there are others who may need to hear it! Future generations of your family might one day face the same problem you did and only your words of wisdom could encourage them to reach their full potential!
This is where we come in!
You’re at the crossroads.
Do you continue?