The Director

Time for another confession (a thousand thanks, dear readers, for being my mental dumping ground): Unlike many writers, I haven’t always wanted to be one.

*A girl in the back row faints* 

Allow me to explain.

Growing up, I devoured books, but I LOVED movies. Star Wars, Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, Indiana Jones, The Neverending Story (which I watched so many times, my parents dubbed it ‘The Neverending Movie’). I couldn’t get enough. Most young film-o-philes aspire to be movie stars. Not me. Sure, you get to be rich and famous, but you were at the mercy of someone else’s creative vision (even back then, I had control issues). I wanted to be at the helm. I wanted to be The Director.

I clung to this dream throughout elementary and middle school. Of course, I had no concept of what a director did, but I knew they were respected just by listening to how people said “Steven Spielberg” or “George Lucas” (remember, it was pre-Episode 1). By high school, I swam too many hours of the day to direct anything, but I still had it in my head as a passion. Finally, my senior year rolled around and I took it as my final shot. I submitted an original play (don’t ask) for the student directed show series and – somehow – got selected (really, don’t ask). Suddenly, I actually was The Director.

We don’t need to discuss how the play went because, honestly, I was too nervous to watch any of the performances (btw, my mom still raves about its brilliance). Regardless of the quality, I confirmed what I already knew: I had to be The Director. Except, the next autumn, I went to college – for engineering. And the grueling nature of Thermodynamics, P-Chem, and Differential Equations combined with lack of directing experience/training kept me from my calling. After graduating…well, it’s hard figure out how to make directing a hobby when you have a serious girlfriend (soon to be wife) and spend most your time designing medical devices. Plus, there’s a lot of people deeply involved in the community theater who are far, far more qualified. I gave up the dream. My days of being The Director were over.  

But, as with most artists who’ve gotten their first hit, I still needed to create. And, like Talia and Donna, I dabbled in the fine arts. However, I stopped dabbling in them a few hours later, more frustrated than fulfilled.

Then I started to write. And it blew my mind.

Not only could I be The Director, but an all-controlling god. I created worlds. Characters had to do what I told them. I conjured sights, sounds, and smells – even tastes – from nothing. It went beyond mere story because I knew once I got good enough, I could make my audience laugh or cry or get their hearts pumping. My writing opened up that same primal facet that The Director longed for, but with a force I never thought possible.

The more I write, the more I realize how close it is to directing. All the same rules apply: If there’s a gun on stage, then somebody shoot it; no character is truly minor and even the walk-on bellman needs a motive; trick the audience into thinking the set pieces are bigger than they truly are…I could keep going, but you get the idea.

After finally coming up with my angle on this blog topic, I got re-inspired.  I unpacked my old how-to-direct textbooks in hopes they’ll enrich my storytelling skills. I think it’ll be a gold mine of ways to construct better plots, tighter structures, and fuller characters with unconventional methods.

Turns out, I am pursuing my childhood dream, after all – just in a different permutation than little-Bret imagined. Who knew that my quest to be The Director would lead me to what I really am: The Writer. 


Looove this one, Bret...I'm glad you found your true calling...and I'm not just saying that so you'll cast me in your next "movie" although while we're on the subject....

As much as I love other creative pursuits, it always comes back to writing for me. Writing's great for people with control issues. :)

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