I had a dream last night that I was driving a little red speedboat across a big lake. Somehow the wake of my little boat formed the foamy words of a blog. I couldn’t see what I had “written,” but I knew that I liked it and I wanted to save it so I turned my boat around hoping to somehow catch or record the words before they disappeared. But I was too late, and my blog had dispersed and become part of the lake, so I sped off in my boat to write another one.
What does this mean?! I’m not sure. Maybe that I need a vacation? Or that I shouldn’t be so concerned with the ideas that got away, because there will be new ones, forever and always? Or that I sometimes feel quite alone out here on this big lake of the children’s TV industry, driving my red boat around and making my little noise?
A few other parts of the dream are worth mentioning: I had been with some colleagues earlier in the dream, each of whom had their own little speedboat. But we had gotten separated, and now they were nowhere in sight and I was looking for them. And my fuel was running low. I had about a quarter of a tank of gas left and I wasn’t sure if that was enough to get me back to where I had come from.
Meaning? Maybe that, professionally speaking, I’ve gone out on a limb with my whole approach to this industry. As most of you know, I’ve always made only my own shows at Little Airplane. No service work and no book-based shows. And my shows are pretty unusual, even to me. But because they have risen up naturally from an honest place inside me, I’ve had no choice but to trust them, to nurture them into being, to accept that these were the shows I was born to make. Is this any way to run a business? It is for me.
And I’ve been fortunate to have found a few people, past and present, who have supported my ideas and helped my shows find their way, either creatively or through some kind of financial support. But many of these folks have changed over the years, and some have receded into the distance like little boats, and these changes have been hard at times. But I’ve learned how necessary it is to stay loose, to work with new partners and new design styles, and to get to know different broadcasters from all over the world, lest I become a dependent independent.
And my low fuel? I’m not sure, but I think that was about time. I figure I have about a quarter of a tank left in my life. And that sounds just about right to me. I think about how I’d like to spend this remaining time and, at the risk of sounding Pollyanna, I’d like to just keep doing what I’m doing: Watching for whatever bubbles up from the deep, then trying to capture it, gently, in the form of a new character, a new show, a song, or perhaps even a film.
The days when I cared about things like money or awards have long since gone. They just don’t interest me anymore. Not because I’m so secure, I’m not, but because, for me, those things pale in comparison to the joy of actually making the work. I am, and have always been, a worker bee. And my shows are my honey. I leave the rest for others.
So, on this week of Thanksgiving in the U.S., I feel thankful for many things. I’m thankful for my loyal team at Little Airplane and for their ongoing dedication to our projects. I’m thankful that I have the love of Mary and Buffy and my family and a few close friends. And I’m thankful to be a part of an industry that still has the desire to support and appreciate good work for kids.
And, lastly, I’m thankful that you’re out there reading this blog, wherever you are. Because if a tree falls in the forest and no one’s there to hear it, it does make a noise, but it’s a lonely noise. And nobody wants to be lonely. And nobody wants to write words that no one else will read. So thank you for listening to me. I really appreciate it.