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  • Writer's pictureEric Wencel

On Creating

About a week ago I had a really special moment as an artist and storyteller. Jasmine presented to the group the work she had been doing in developing a pipeline that simulated leaf geometry on Mason’s first-pass 3D model of Aldo. '

What I saw was this:

It’s very rough. A rough rig of a rough model - just enough to get rough animation in order to test a rough simulation of leaves across Aldo’s body. But in its roughness is something very, very meaningful. It shows that what we’re making is real. This is Aldo. He is a character that I designed, for a story that I helped create, and he has life.

This is the closest thing I’ve experienced to parenthood. Excuse my tears. This is the first time any of us in the group have done this sort of thing, and may well be the last (since rarely does one handle everything in a film from start to finish). We’ve made something from nothing. Hundreds of hours of work, with thousands more to go, on a thing that really is greater than the sum of its parts. We’re doing it, Peter.

As this semester comes to a close and life starts to slow down for a bit (summer classes start in a month and I’ve gotta finish moving in the next two weeks, so it’s still nuts), there’s been more time for reflection. I’ve been processing through a lot of things I’ve been learning and thinking about over the past few months, so I’d like to bookend this season with some thoughts on creativity and why I’m doing this (spoiler: it’s not for the money).

I’m on a grand journey, pulling the thread on what I believe to be my calling as a storyteller. I believe this calling isn’t an accident, nor is the fact that few things in the human existence are more powerful than a story. I believe that we are made by a Creator who loves us, and tells us so through things that are beautiful and true, and stories are a big part of that. Whether we realize it or not, telling stories and creating something beautiful is a sacred act. Great stories speak truth in ways we don’t know how to say, and connect to deeper places within ourselves than we know how to access. They open our minds, evangelizing our hearts to the idea that existence is so much more than what we see and experience.

I want in on that.

I’ll conclude with an excerpt from a book that I read recently called Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making. It’s written by a guy named Andrew Peterson. He’s a songwriter, fantasy author, and kindred spirit to my own. One of my creative elders, as it were. He says this:

“Those of us who write, who sing, who paint, must remember that to a child a song may glow like a nightlight in a scary bedroom. It may be the only thing holding back the monsters. That story may be the only beautiful, true thing that makes it through all the ugliness of a little girl’s world to rest in her secret heart. It’s our job, it is our ministry, it is the sword we swing in the Kingdom, to remind children that the good guys win, that the stories are true, that the fool’s hope may be the best kind.”

I would say the same is true for adults - we all have the same feelings, and the world is no different for us. Regardless, this is my directive. I have no aspirations to fame or fortune. Forget all that. If one thing that I make brings joy and hope and light to one person, mission accomplished. Anything after that is bonus.

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