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.

Some time 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.

What about you, gentle reader? What did you want to be when you grew up? Are you doing something that the five year old you would approve of? If not is that a good thing or a bad one?

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  1. 1. Rose Fox

    My young self wanted to be a detective, and would probably be disappointed that I’m not one… until I started talking to her about the detective work called “research” that is one of my foremost joys in life. I think she’d get why that was cool.

    Not sure I’d have as much luck explaining why I’m a journalist rather than a novelist, though.

  2. 2. Kelly McCullough

    Yeah, I’m entirely sure the young me would think being a writer was as cool as being in theater, but I think it’s pretty close. I don’t know what my five year old would say about research, but the adult me (who married an academic) thinks it’s pretty cool stuff whether you call it journalism, novel research, or academic.

Author Information

Kelly McCullough

Kelly McCullough is a fantasy and science fiction author. He lives in Wisconsin with his physics professor wife and a small herd of cats. His novels include the WebMage and Fallen Blade series—Penguin/ACE. His short fiction has appeared in numerous venues including Writers of the Future and Weird Tales. He also dabbles in science fiction as science education with The Chronicles of the Wandering Star—part of an NSF-funded science curriculum—and the science comic Hanny & the Mystery of the Voorwerp, which he co-authored and co-edited—funding provided by NASA and the Hubble Space Telescope. Visit site.

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