There are things I'd love to be doing with my time. Geeky things usually, but things I either don't know how to start, don't have the money to start them or don't have the time to invest without compromising my family's well being. Everyone has these. Everyone wants to write a novel or act on stage or learn that language they started in high school, but I would say the lion's share of people settle for a day job because it pays fairly well and they push the rest of these dreams into the realm of duffer, hobbyist, tinkerer.
So let's hear it. What would you love to be doing with your time? What hobby are you doing that you'd love to turn into a business? What shot do you want to take?
Given the right timing, hours during the day or sudden inheritance here's a list of things I'd love to try.
Learn Mandarin or become fluent in French. I took French in high school and one semester in college. Too me it's one of the most beautiful languages on Earth with the possible exception of Italian. I did fairly well at it but where I fell short was being fluent in conversation. With all language, the easiest first is to read, then write, then speak. Not being an ambassador, I have little opportunity to use other languages. Which brings me to Mandarin. China is a superpower, like it or not. With 1.whatever billion people, it makes sense that we learn a little bit of their language. Plus, on one of my favorite shows Firefly they used Mandarin to swear and that was just cool. I've always admired polyglots and I realized most of my online friends are people from Finland, China, Argentina, Germany or Malaysia who know and speak both their native tongue and American English. It makes me feel less of a global human to only know my solitary, yet seriously complex, language.
Be a Lego builder. I've been collecting Lego sets going on 25 years but I've always kept the sets separate. I had a childhood friend who was an only child and had a lot of toys. He had a bag full of Lego pieces that we used to make all manner of space ships. We'd pride ourselves on creating Hatchet Fighters from Buck Rogers, giant space battleships, X-Wings, mecha, etc. My finest creation was a Gunstar from The Last Starfighter. Nowadays my Lego sits in boxes or Ziplock bags in the garage, unmingled and virtually unused. I watch the builders on Flickr create wonderful models of popular and original space vehicles and I get really jealous. But this kind of hobby takes time and a fairly large account to purchase bulk pieces. It also requires a large, undisturbed area of a home where the thousands of pieces can be stored, accessed easily and kept out of reach from little hands.
Be a voice actor. Some of my favorite big and little screen performers are those that provide the voices. Maurice LeMarche, Billy West, Frank Welker, John Dimaggio, Tress MacNeille all lend powerful and complex talent to any production. I'm sure it stems back to listening to Mel Blanc to a million Looney Toon voices. Having grown up a bit of a class clown, impersonating video game noises and cartoon characters, as well as having above average vocal control, I'd always thought I could be a decent voice actor. Draw backs to this currently include the facts that I don't know anyone in the business, I have no agent, and I know so very little about it all. I just watched a behind the scenes video about Dragonball Z: Bodukai 3 and the voice sessions they did for the game and I have to say I'm both inspired and more than a little scared at what it would take to get into that industry.
Narrow my artistic drives. The problem anyone with a 9-5 job that doesn't involve doing what you want to do is that the things you DO want to do get about 1% of your time and effort. It's all a conscious choice and the willingness to take a leap. You never know what awaits you if you take a chance on something and as countless success stories have shown, it's never too late. I'd personally like to find a focus for all the creative impulses I have running through my brain. I know I could be a good writer, illustrator, graphic designer, even web developer if I put my mind to it. What I have in creative "genius" I lack in motivation and focus. I burn through ideas like cigarettes and if a notion doesn't reach fruition in a short time, I leave it by the wayside. Because of that, in the last 15 years, I've done such an array of projects that I couldn't tell you what I'm really good at. Recently I had a guy posting about a lettering position tell me my work over the past couple years lacked variety - in lettering. I took it okay because I know he was right, but then I applied that to everything I draw, write or otherwise create and I realized it all looked the same. From the robot drawings to the way I color comic pages to the way I do cartoon hoboes, everything seems the same. Given time, I would love to explore more media, more challenges, in short be a true freelance artist.
Those are my big dreams. I have smaller ones like getting back into shape enough to play soccer, teaching myself piano or guitar, joining a band and playing drums or singing, getting involved in theater or do stand up, writing a sci-fi novel and going back to work on the comic I never finished. And here's where the dreams fall apart. I'm currently doing ALL these things, but I get about two hours a day where I'm not working and those two hours usually end up doing creative financing, mucking with daily problems about the house or cars or playing with and caring for the kids. It's not an excuse, it's a reality. At some point, I want to take a chance at something. I want to be able to say, "You know what, I'm going to do it. I'm tired of the grind and getting little in the way of enjoyment out of it." I don't know what I'm waiting for, a break? To be recognized? To become independently wealthy?
There's no advice anyone can give you, there's no tips or tricks to make it work better. The first step is to take the first step and the rest will either roll right along or fall apart, it's typically out of your control after that.
To that end, I'm going to go take a shower and then draw some robots.