Quick! To the Memory Machine!

November 6, 2010

I was a very strange child.

So I guess it makes sense that I grew up to be… well, very strange. In hindsight, I can pick out tendencies towards my present situation, an inclination to the world of Speculation Fiction.

Basically, I liked to pretend I was a whole lot of different aliens.

Not only that, I would make up cultures, planets, and biologies for all the different species I came up with. Mostly these were free-floating thoughts that I muttered under my breath as I charged around the playground, but occasionally I did a drawing or two illustrating a particular feature of a distant planet, or an alien’s musculoskeletal structure (I swear, I am not joking about that last one).

Here’s a “glidesmar” (a “smart glider,” get it?).

They lived in treetop towns, and were highly intelligent, but were not capable of space travel because their planet lacked sufficient “resources.”

Here’s a Maruk:

They were pack animals used by alien explorers to carry supplies across the frozen tundra. Notice how its special adaptations roughly correspond to the winter gear worn by small Canadians.

And last for today, a Cirikan:

In short: Swim, swim, NOM, NOM!

Sharp-eyed readers may notice that my aliens tend to resemble dinosaurs. There’s a simple explanation for that. I regularly pretended I was a dinosaur, too. And a wolf. And an eagle, whale, gazelle (I had a long-running game in which I “turned into a gazelle” whenever I stepped outside), unicorn, dragon, horse, seagull, ferret, pterodactyl, fox, mountain goat, and probably a whole menagerie that will come to mind later.

And the funny thing was, it felt really… real. I could have sworn that I was seconds from flight, that my moaning in the swimming pool was the mournful tones of  whalesong, that there clearly was a wooly white alien bounding over the snow-covered soccer field.

I am Arvik. Hear me ROAR!

In a lot of ways, it set me up well for writing. I got comfortable spending time in my own head, stomping aimlessly in circles, utterly entertained by my thoughts. Though I didn’t know it at the time, it was great practice for worldbuilding. But more importantly, it was fun. I could go somewhere else, be someone or something else. It was, and remains, an amazing feeling.
Sometimes I still catch myself, on long boring walks, shifting ever-so-slightly into the “hands tucked in, shoulders raised” posture of the T. Rex. Or musing on the long journey this particular Maruk has to make. Old habits die hard. Sometimes they don’t die at all.
But if it’s the habit of imagination, that’s fine with me.

One comment

  1. These are awesome! I did the same thing, creating picture books and stories as soon as I learned to write. Later it was comic books with my own poorly-drawn superheroes. Never let your childhood dreams go! Most of what Lucas and Spielburg have accomplished is due to their strong drive to bring those earliest fantasies to life.

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