Every creative passion—as a hobby or full-time profession—has a beginning. An origin. The point of inception. And my work is no different. So, to shed light on how I got to where I am today, I invite you to read my creation story: a tale that delves deep into my passion for all things writing.
Toward the end of 2016, a colleague told me he was returning to his roots regarding his freelance business. That prompted me to ponder my own beginning, to inspect where I came from and what guided me to present day. As with all mysteries I began with the facts, or at least the version I remember.
CONNECTING THE DOTS
As someone who has worked as a graphic designer and fine art digital photographer, I naturally began the thought process by making a huge assumption: that my roots of creativity were tightly wrapped around visual design. In 2002, I developed a hobby-level interest in photography that quickly turned into a creative passion. Consequently, it took my sporadic work in graphic design and transformed it into a more effective effort since I developed a means by which I could produce my own imagery. Also, it refined my skills for creative thought and visual composition, which are two critical areas of expertise that graphic design needs to be successful. My rationale for this assumption seemed airtight. Since I floundered prior to that point, in all aspects of creativity, I felt as if photography was the pivot point that gave my career a new direction and a fresh chance at success.
As I continued to sit with my perceived origin story, I felt its validity evaporate before my mind’s eye. The idea of roots wasn’t compatible with a beginning that occurred less than two decades ago (at the time of this writing). It seemed as if I was simply inspecting the base of the trunk instead of digging below the surface to reveal the true depths of my career’s first chapter. So, I became more curious.
I thought, and I puzzled, and I puzzled some more. I dug deep. What I found shocked me. My roots descended quite a bit into my past, much deeper than I realized: they reached all the way back to elementary school. At that point, long lost memories were found and as I dusted off a few select moments, a foundation emerged.
MY FIRST MENTOR
During the second half of my elementary school years, maybe fourth or fifth grade, a woman visited our class once a week to mentor a short story project. I don’t recall most of the details but I do remember that my story was about Superman. It was a ton of fun to create and I remember how entertained the class was when I read it aloud. If memory serves, that year only saw the one workshop but after the project ended, I began writing another story in my free time (which, sadly, I know for certain didn’t go anywhere). Fast-forward a year and once again, my class was writing. It must have been a structured activity as well because at least a few of my classmates wrote a short story and as usual, there was one tale that achieved great laughter and applause from the class.
GORY STORY, BY JEFF MORRIS
It was such a hit! Although I don’t remember what my story was about, I do recall writing my own version of a gory story after the fact, pages and pages of thrilling kid narrative crafted in my spare time. I’m not sure if I read it to the class, but I do know that my neighbor entertained a public reading. And I wrote a sequel.
There were other instances of writing in my life—experiences that contributed to my creative development during middle school, college, and even after—but truthfully, none of them compare to the short stories from elementary school. I now understand how those worn pages from my black and white marble notebook defined me long before I officially chose a career path. They stuck with me, collecting dust in the deep recesses of my mind until life could build upon what was started. Everything else…design, photography, illustration, art…they kept my brain occupied and broadened my expertise so that when the time was right, my writing could flourish.
I now see that my roots don’t matter. Instead, it’s the seed planted long ago that is important. It all began in elementary school: that’s when I became a writer.