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Scenic Heights – The View from Here May 29, 2010

Posted by shannonmuir in Memoir, Uncategorized.
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I’m not supposed to be in the location where I am when I’m writing this. If the world had gone on as scheduled, I would have been home in my Los Angeles apartment.

But I’m not.

Thanks to an airline mechanical problem that canceled my flight, my portable computer and I are on the living room floor of my parents’ house in Cheney, Washington, in the same house I grew up in most of my teenage years.

The street’s name is Scenic Heights. I’ve always taken a bit of symbolic license to that. This house was where it all began, the desire to chase a dream that is now real. I used to sit here on the floor close to the TV and absorb 80s cartoons like a sponge. Then I said, “I want to write for animation.” I was 13 then; at 30, it happened.

Talk about a test of patience.

I sit here and can’t help but wonder what that teenage girl would say if she could see me now, and know that all her hard work, few friendships, and a nearly missed social life were not in vain. Personally, I’m not sure she would fathom it. And if I could go back and save her from any of the missteps in the life to come, I’d turn away the chance. I firmly believe that people are built by what they endure.

I still remember when we had a creative writing assignment that came due not long after I heard from my second professional writer giving me feedback on my attempts to pitch for a show (which had since ended). In one of the most prideful displays I can think of, I serialized my adventures in hearing from both of those professional writers and then read it out loud in class, complete with soundtrack from the show. Given my shyness, I’m amazed I succeed at all. Vaguely, I remember two classmates talking as we left for the hour. One said something about how arrogant I was; it was the remark of the other that caught me off guard. “Well, she’s done more in her life than you have,” responded the fairly popular girl.

That, I guess, is when I created a reputation for myself. I thought everyone would forget over time, though, considering I never moved quite as fast as I thought I would. Ten years later, at my high school reunion, I would be mis-identified as a successful childrens’ book writer. And no, at this point, I still hadn’t sold my first script.

It’s only been since about 2000 that I’ve really become comfortable with my gifts and who I am. I know I toot my own horn a lot, and I try not to excessively, because I know how old that gets. Yet I love teaching people as I go and grow, not after I’ve been there for years and my glory days are behind me. That however certaintly does not stop me from augmenting what I do by sharing the wisdom of others. I think there needs to be balance.

My sister and I sat in this room vowing to be writers. We created several animated series here — bibles and more than a few scripts. She’s doing some journalistic work but mainly has been a mother these last five years. If I get a chance to take her along for the ride in the future, I will.

But even just to know that I’ve been an animation writer once (to a foreign company) makes every minute spent in this room richer and more vibrant. To quote the line of a song from one animated series that influenced me: “You ought to see the view from here.”

I hope someday you find your own personal view to treasure and remember as the place where you began, no matter your passion.

Shannon Muir
Cheney, Washington
April 5, 2003

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