Where do my ideas come from? Perhaps that's not the best question.
When did my imagination take flight? Now, that's more appropriate.
I can tell you the month and year when my flights of fancy were triggered: June 1977. I lived in New Bern, North Carolina, a nice little town along the Neuse and Trent Rivers. The Sun-Journal newspaper (still in operation but probably as doomed as most local papers) was a critical outlet to what was happening in the world. One of my favorite pages was the entertainment page, which included a daily TV grid and the ads for movies playing and coming soon.
The movie in question: Star Wars. (At the time, no episode title.) The movie had been out a few weeks and seemed to be taking the country by storm (as much as anyone might have noticed such things pre-Internet). Our little town, which had two movie theaters for a total of three screens, didn't pick up the big-tent films right away. Then life changed. Forever.
The antiquated Tryon Theater, a relic built in the early 20th century (I'm sure it was around before talkies arrived) was playing Star Wars exclusively. I arrived as a 14-year-old with no expectations. A woman with one foot in the grave and a cigarette butt an inch long took my ticket. The Tryon was almost as old as her.
Armed with soda and popcorn, I took a seat near the rear. What happened next etched itself in my memory. I'm still there today. The music, the crawl, the Imperial star destroyer chasing the blockade runner above Tatooine. And away we went, jaw displaced on the floor.
I went back five more times. I know every line, every beat of that film. I've taught it in ELA classes as examples of the heroes journey. And on December 20, I will be watching Episode IX: The Rise of SkyWalker with two teacher friends who have a shared experience from childhood. The saga will end. Forty-two years of one story. OK, so not every film has been great, and only The Empire Strikes Back matches of exceeds the original. But that's beside the point.
The boy is still there. And the boy hasn't lost his imagination. The boy is still telling stories and has no plans to stop these petty pursuits.