A Life within a Life

There is a rhythm to the creative process.
I couldn’t tell you what it is because I still don’t know.
It changes, shifts, like a living thing. Going in some direction I didn’t expect. Most days I’m lucky to be on its heels.
What I do know is practice and study. That’s how I go on producing, almost invisibly, in the midst of living life. Writing line after line in a coffee shop, between poetry scribblers and newspaper readers, blenders churning, milk steaming in the background. Taking words that capture my attention and writing them down: “Yes, after an hour of keeping your hand moving, you will have several pages filled with words; but ultimately, you can’t fool yourself…somewhere along you have to break through.”
I start a routine and it works for about a week, five days, before my schedule shifts and changes yet again but that doesn’t matter.  After that week I know more than ever where I’m headed.  Breakthroughs happen regardless of change if you keep flexible, keep pushing forward however you may. Writing, creating—it’s not a conveyor belt. It’s a life within a life.
It works inside of and despite everything. This is neat because study, crafting—ideas—happen all the time. While you experience one thing you’re turning it over and learning how it fits into what you’re creating at the moment. It’s important to know this, and also to still work and produce steadily, on any schedule.
Writing is both flexible and inflexible.

Girls and Guys from Summits and Skies — an Animated Short

“You need to come watch this.”

Jeremy is looking at a post on FirstShowing.net, our favorite movie news site run by film geek, Alex Billington.  It’s raving about this animated short/trailer concept made by a French art student named Gwenn Germain.

I sit down at the computer and he plays the trailer.  Before it’s finished, I’m raving too:  Omigosh omigosh omigosh omigosh!

This is just a concept, but it needs to be a movie.  Because it’s so beautiful and the characters look so great (the happy guy with the white mask especially) and because there’s something awesome about how one generation of filmmakers/storytellers inspires another.  Especially when the inspiration includes Hayao Miyazaki.  For those of you who might not know, I’m a huge fan of his work.

The lovely animation is made even more amazing put to music by Joe Hisaishi who scored many of the Miyazaki films.  The music in this piece is Hanna bi.

Please, please, please, pleeeeease someone make this into a movie.

Even as just a concept though, Gwenn Germain has made something truly wonderful and I shall watch her future progress with interest.

Just a Reporter

Plot is more often revealed than discovered. This week, two of my stubbornly quiet characters found voices. One told me where he came from and why he’s so painfully awkward. Another explained that she isn’t a mercenary, she’s a bodyguard. These two never meet (so far as I know), but her story affects his in a big way. With that revelation, a huge piece of the plot fell into place.

I love the moment when a story comes together. One digs and digs, sometimes for years, before the heart of a story emerges. My characters barely acknowledge my existence as the architect of their lives. I’m just the reporter. They do what they do and I scramble to capture it in words. In that way, they’re like real people. I know I could force them to live in the story I think I should write, but, being creatures of free will ourselves, we’d probably find them boring.
At the very idea, I can almost see them stop doing whatever they’re doing and turn to glare at me. “Don’t you dare make us forgettable,” they command. “Don’t force us to be boring.”
A smart writer listens to her characters, so I nod and resume my note-taking. Storytelling, at this phase of creation, isn’t about what I want, it’s about what they want. What drives them. That’s the real story. I’ll clean it up later, when they’re done showing me that story.