digging up old ideas

Recently, on the way to my day job, I remembered a film script idea that I had about 10 years ago.  I went digging for that old idea in my files and couldn’t find it.  I am sure I left it in the past for a reason and shouldn’t be too concerned by the loss.  Good or bad, though, I would still like to see it again.

It’s funny how a creative idea that was never realized always feels precious like a rough gem.  It could have been the worst idea in the world but as a fledgling bad idea it always has the potential to be magnificent.  Funny, still, how I feel more attached towards ideas from my past than people from my past.  Perhaps this is because people are not within my control, whereas an idea is — or should be – can be?  If nothing comes of my idea, I am the only one to blame.  I am that idea’s only hope.  Nobody would have that idea quite like me.  Certainly, nobody would love my idea quite like me.

Funny on funny.  Because, again, if I had developed those ideas into the ugly monstrosities that usually occur when I develop script or novel ideas then that preciousness would be lost.

I did a major purge of creative files a few years ago mainly because I was advised that it was a very healthy thing to do for writers.  This purge promised to help me to:

  1. Let go of the past that is keeping me from experiencing the present or having any mind for the future.
  2. If I have been dogging on a story for years and not getting anywhere, remember that I am mortal; my time here is finite.
  3. Realize that an idea that is 10 years old or older probably has little relevance to me now or would need to be turned into a new idea to suit who I am as a writer.
  4. Consider that since I probably have at least a few creative ideas a year — if all of my undeveloped ideas continued to follow after me, year after year, like tin cans attached to my waist with strings – I’d make such a royal din everywhere I went.
  5. Accept that some ideas are just bad and deserve to be put to rest.  I don’t know if I can ever believe this statement.  After all, aren’t I the bad one if I can’t make something out of one of my brilliant ideas?

**Important Note: I’m only talking about literary ideas.  An idea such as doing your own amateur household electrical or medical surgery.  No.  Don’t do it.

I think the lesson learned is that if I should have a good literary idea then I should develop it immediately.  Embrace the sucking, as They say, and just do it — so it doesn’t follow after me for years and I don’t suffer the regret of needing to purge them. I bet some sort of angel or spirit weeps every time an idea dies before it’s even given a chance.

Ultimately, there is wisdom to this funny business.  Whenever I have tried to develop a creative concept into a novel or script it has grown into a hairy kind of Frankenstein with lots of heads, arms and legs and eventually feels beyond my control to develop any further.

I do believe, though have not yet proven, that I must persevere long enough to see the beauty in the ugly reality of my idea.  That’s life, isn’t it?  An idea is an ideal.  The ideal is perfection.  Longer creative pieces will never turn out the way I had it in mind.  The writer and the story develop together and the reality will always come out differently.  The reality is where I will learn and test the truth about me, my story and my perspective on this life.  Time is a factor as well.  The act of stretching out an idea through linear time, page after page, scene after scene — it does stuff to an idea.  It applies maddening and rigid logic to the abstract.

Obviously, if my storytelling craft adhered to a popular formula or template the work and product would be different.  Ideas, I imagine, would have a clearer and smaller path to follow to completion.  Kudos to writers who can successfully write longer creative pieces within a template.  My monsters have always managed to escape such prisons.

And those are the few times when I have actually been very proud of my monstrosities.

© lyw 

Photography credits:

Dave Michuda

Nirzar Pangarkar

The Art of Drawing a Weapon

image c/o imdb.com
image c/o imdb.com

Ralph Steadman learned to draw not to make pretty pictures but to apply drawing like a weapon; to invite people to observe his world and actively think and act upon it.

In the documentary film, For No Good Reason, Ralph Steadman is shown starting a picture with a splash of ink on a canvas.  He explains that when he doesn’t know what to do, he does that.  Some artists may think that sounds like – a poorly-planned composition. Objectively, there is little that could dispute that.  Nevertheless, throughout the documentary we get to see what Steadman makes out of such a random act:  and his career, his talent and his body of work is also, indisputably, impressive.

This is a refreshing documentary that advocates on the abstract side of art; the value of bringing a haunted image out of our imagination for us to have in material or digital form.  And this is not just abstract art.  This is abstract art often driven with a personal message from an artist who is not shy about his opinions be it politics, war, society or anything else.

A great abstract or conceptual artist, to me, is somebody who creates beyond the aim for beauty, skill, craft and ego, and has enough beauty, skill, craft and ego to pull that off.  The great thing about art like this is that there is nothing to measure it by.  It either says something to you or it doesn’t.  It either excites you or it doesn’t.  To discuss how good the art is, or to compare styles or skill, is irrelevant and almost stupid.  Just look at it; take what you will and move on.

That Steadman has art skills is beside the point because his stand-out gift is that he can draw a story that no photograph or other human eye could capture.   How?  Well, I guess, first, he let himself.

An artist who would never start a composition without a plan will also never know what he/she could do in a similar situation.

Stream-of-consciousness writing is the most similar concept for writers: just spewing, or spewing off a subject, until something usable comes out.  I lost interest in this type of exercise a long time ago because I wound up weeding through a whole lot of crap.  However, I’m glad to know it’s a tool in my holster if I ever want to explore that side of me again.   Though my skills may not be good enough to make ‘art’ out of random acts, stream-of-consciousness is still a great exercise in mental and emotional cleansing.  Writing coaches often recommend this exercise to get motors rolling and to cure writer’s block.

Honestly, I think an artist needs a little more than just skill to pull off art like this. The artist also needs a high level of faith and trust that the artist is going to find something from that starting place of nothing.

I recommend this documentary for any kind of artist, even if you find abstract art offensive.  His reasons, for starting with no reason, are fascinating and his career and dedication to his craft is inspirational. I can see how his style is very good at keeping an artist’s mind hungry and courageous about and during the creative process.  It seems to have kept Steadman very agile and youthful.

I will end this short blog with some favourite quotes from the film:

  • I go out of my way to make something that is as unexpected to me as anyone else. 
  • Anything can exist on that piece of paper.
  • You can start something and not know how it’s going to come out in the end. If you did, what is the point of doing it?

© lyw 

What are the Odds of Meeting The Numbers Guy?

The chances are good if you were keeping up with the upcoming Toronto Jewish Film Festival, May 5 – 15th, 2016, that advised, ‘If you buy something at The Big Carrot in Toronto, and David is your cashier, he’ll surprise you with an awesome historical fact or math equation based on your total. But there’s more to David than meets the eye.’

However, I just wanted to buy some organic tea that wasn’t grown with a cocktail of pesticides and locked in a plastic tea bag, and lo and behold, as David rings in my tea he begins applying the total of my purchase to a total of measurements that made up the length of a bridge in New York.

As much as I like friendliness and unique characters, city life has made me wary and paranoid.  But before I could start worrying, David pointed to the movie poster on the wall of the Big Carrot and explained that he was the ‘Numbers Guy’ being featured in a short documentary.  I loved that.  He said he had devoted his life to numbers and never imagined that it would get him featured in his own documentary.  He was extremely congenial about his share and only offered more information about the showing when I asked.

Here is some more media coverage on the short documentary and the film festival.  It sounds like it should be a good ticket.  Regardless, if you are in Toronto and want to do a little health food shopping, please take the opportunity to meet this friendly, numeric fellow:

© lyw 

Have you Seen Poetry Yet?

Wildflower image c/o http://f.hatena.ne.jp/uralic/20120816053135

Poetry is the title of a film about a grandmother, from a small town in Korea, reacting to her current life and a recent local tragedy that has involved her family. Despite her age and the odds against her, she continues to try to better her circumstances by taking a poetry class.

The film itself is very visual and always gives just enough character and plot to keep your imaginations grasping for the rest of her; very much like the fragmented narrative style of modern poetry.

The main character is unable to plainly tell us or anybody how she really feels or what she is doing and why.  And never does.  At the end of the film … well, I’m a natural-born spoiler, so I won’t go any further about the contents of the movie.  Despite feeling quite melancholy after this 2 1/2 hour long film, I think it is worth seeing.  The story and main character are beautifully portrayed and I continued to think about the film for several days after seeing it.

Slide1As part of the poetry campaign for this blog, this week’s poetry video takes a sample from a poem within this film to entice you to either read the full poem or watch this film.

This is, by far, my favourite poetry video that I have done for the lyw channel on Youtube.  This poem so captures the delicate yet enduring quality of the main character of this film.  It was a pleasure to choose the quiet black and white photography to breathe with this meditative text.  I only wish I could have had the freedom to render the whole poem.

I don’t know if it’s a copyright thing but the entire poem is difficult to find on the Internet. The one I did find was not faithful to the English translation provided directly in the film. However, when I went back to the film to read the poem faithfully, I found the placement of periods and commas a little confusing there, as well.  Most likely, something was lost in translation. We just need to learn Korean, I guess, for the real version of the poem.

Please visit the following link to this week’s poetry video, sampling one of Poetry‘s poems:

blog written by lyw

Image Credits:

Penguin Cafe’s Perpetuum Mobile for this September 11th

Have a song of happiness and hope on this September 11th anniversary.

Penguin Cafe Orchestra’s Perpetuum Mobile c/o a great youtube video.

Fell in love with this song as it helped the sun rise over a tired, old town in the claymation film, Mary and Max.  The piano phrase invites you and the rest of the song to come run away with it and slowly the strings and cute puttering horns follow after.  It’s a beautiful song for a sweet movie.

Start a great Monday morning with a little Son de Nueva York

Luis Mangual – Son de Nueva York c/o Grooveshark

Have a great salsa song to start your Monday morning, c/o Grooveshark.com.

This is a beautiful soft, rolling salsa that feels like a sweet massage for your whole body – especially if you’re dancing.   There are some exquisite spaces between the notes that give a dancer a lot of room to play and feel every nuance of the song.  The spaces are nicely balanced with the beauty of what is Latin son

Whether you are a dancer, music lover or not, this is a great song to start the work or study week.

brownstone to red dirt – change the world as children do

Profile PictureBrownstone to Red Dirt: what a great documentary.  The children’s faces are like open books.  Sweet open books that want to be read.

It’s about a Brooklyn school and an orphanage in Sierra Leone getting involved in a pen pal program.

One of the kid’s referred to a great quote from a piece of graffiti:  Change your thoughts, change your world.  I think, the film also says, if we – adults, like me – can remember to think like these children do, a better world would seem more possible.

The film’s not just a heart-tugger.  These kids give some of the funniest quotes.