By Evan Weppler
Over the years, I have been blessed to be encouraged and led to be creative by so many wonderful souls and activities. Here are a few thanks to a few–
1. TASIS England Book Making– In my school in England, a common activity (which we enjoyed from Pre-K onward) was book making. In Pre-K, an older student came in and helped us make our books. I was lucky to have an older family friend help me and spark an interest. I have been telling stories since I was young, and writing stories before I knew how to write (using word pictures), but I believe that seeing my work between two fabric hard-covers, with my name on the front and picture in the back, made the possibility of being a writer seem to be an attainable yet pleasurable goal.
2. Mrs. Prebish and Mr. Graham– In fifth grade, in Norway, at my school, the International School of Stavanger, I had a teacher who gave us the assignment of writing a story on the computer. This was back when computers were still a big deal and to be trusted to use the school computers was an honor. I started my story and found it growing beyond my control. While most others saw their stories end on page 4, 5, 6 or so, mine continued past page 30. I had written many stories before, but none as extensive as “THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER.” Mrs. Prebish commended my work and eventually I found myself meeting with the Principal, Mr. Graham. And soon I found myself on stage during an assembly, receiving a ribbon for my creative writing. Such small things really meant a lot. Both Mrs. Prebish and Mr. Graham read to our class numerous times, showing the wonder of good story-telling. I still have that ribbon.
3. Gordon Korman– He has recently gained much acclaim for various series, such as 39 Clues or Kidnapped, but I first fell in love with his writing because of his writing from the 80s and 90s: The Bruno and Boots series, Son of Interflux, Don’t Care High, and more. He created fun characters, unbelievable (yet believable) action, and stories that made me keep reading way past my bedtime, even if I had already read the story before. What really stood out to me, however, was that his first book was published when he was in 7th grade. That gave me hope as a young writer, that he did it and so could I. I’ve now fallen far behind his record, but I’m glad that he created such an inspiring body of work. And of course, there are many more authors to list: Roald Dahl, CS Lewis, Norton Juster, Paul Jennings, Bruce Coville, Louis Sachar, etc.
4. Microsoap, Honey I Shrunk the Kids the TV Show, Histeria!, Animaniacs, Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Faerie Tale Theater, All That, The Storyteller, Art Attack and more-– These movies and TV shows were filled with creative energy and spirit, whether as subjects or behind the scenes. Stories around the fire. Fun skits with dynamic characters. Art projects for kids. The unbelievable quality of myth. Fantasy and Science Fiction as Reality. I could gush about these works forever, but I won’t. Just check them out online.
5. Odyssey of the Mind— I participated in this program in Norway with a few other students and a wonderful teacher. We calculated when the moon should rise, built things with… things, put on plays and even wrote songs. In fact, our production had me as a director– who knew I might consider that in the future? We had a song about DECEM apples (DECEM standing for Derek Evan Caroline Emily and Molly– wow, I still remember that) that I helped write and I still have the giant poster we made for the skit. Such simple things, still so powerful.
6. High School Electives— Throughout my time in High School I got to participate in a great number of Electives. Over my four years I enjoyed Creative Writing, Drama, Journalism, Fine Arts, Bible Elective, Yearbook, and more. In Creative Writing, I was challenged to improve my work through daily and weekly assignments. In Drama, I had the chance to write, direct, and act in skits, dramas, and competitions. In Journalism I served as Editor but also wrote numerous articles, edited others, and had fun with layout. In Fine Arts, I really let my creative side come out. In the Bible Elective, we were encouraged to come in with various topics or media to discuss. In Yearbook, I learned that everyone needs to pull their weight, or else yearbooks don’t get made… A variety of experiences, but a whole lotta influence.
7. Experiential storytelling: (re)discovering narrative to communicate God’s message- This book, more than most, greatly impacted my creative mind in high school, especially in regards to ministry and the church. It also gave me great insights about the methods of an artist. I learned about creative worship and teaching elements, and after implementing them, I found that people really opened up to new ways of learning and relating. I researched creative worship online and found so many great ideas and added my own ideas as well. I eventually found myself as the intern at Cypress Bible, partially for my creativity in finding ways to make worship experiences more interactive.
8. Crayola Crayons– I suppose all sorts of art materials have helped me be creative, but Crayola crayons stand out among the rest. I specifically remember a crayon box that’s stored somewhere in my house (or just in my memory) that was printed and shaped like a treasure chest. It had a whole mess of crayons, I’ve tried to search for the number, but I can’t be sure. It’s almost as if it merely exists in my past– no record online. But nothing can beat a box full of Crayola Crayons, a stack of white paper, and an Adventures in Odyssey tape in the background. (Favorite Color? Cerulean.)
9. Adventures in Odyssey– No, not Odyssey of the Mind. This tape/CD/mp3/radio/video/board game/book/WHAT ELSE series started in either 1986 or 1988, depending on when you really consider it to have taken off. Those were the years that my sister and I were born, and Odyssey holds a special place in our hearts. The series features an inventor/teacher/explorer/ ice-cream shop owner named Whit along with a multitude of colorful, enjoyable characters who go through life issues, explore Bible stories, and fight evil villains around the world (and more). The variety of characters, plots, and themes allows for so many unique storylines with relevancy for daily life. But it was the fact that it was merely an audio production that made it special- sure, there were videos, but the special thing about radio is that you have to use your imagination to make it come to life. In fact, there is a special contraption in the series called The Imagination Station that allows a person to enter into a variety of stories and cross the Red Sea with Moses or witness Edison invent the light bulb. They never explain how it works, but I can’t help but believe that it is merely representative of the show itself. Audio can provide the structure, but Imagination is the power that allows one to go into worlds unknown.
10. My Family– My mom, who is always provides the materials and the encouragement for any project I undertake. My dad, who has worked alongside me since I was a kid to build almost anything. My sister, who is so creative in her own way and acts as an inspiration to me in so many ways. These few join the others as influences along my path towards creativity.
These, and many more, have influenced me to be the little-c creator I am today. Thanks.