THOUGHTS: Inspiration & The Birth Of An Idea

The past few months have been an awakening of sorts to a sense of creative fulfillment I haven’t felt in a very long time. Perhaps “fulfillment’ hasn’t been reached as of yet, but the beginnings of it are most certainly there. Producing & directing 3 shows at the same time gets the mind working faster and sharper than almost anything else; being busy is ALWAYS a good thing.

It was during this period that the seed was planted for my next project, a musical based centered around an urban legend of sorts. I hate to be so vague, but until work begins on the actual script, I’ll probably be keeping details close to the chest on this one. What I will say is that the inspiration came from the most unlikely of places (as inspiration often does): a toss-off joke at a bar.

Perhaps this doesn’t seem terribly odd to some, but for someone like me who doesn’t drink, finding myself in a bar is an uncommon thing. The rare occasions I do end up in one involves either sports or meetings with a group of friends and colleagues. Such was the case on this particular night: having just had a rehearsal for our FringeNYC show, we began to joke about how any word could be inserted into the music and what it would mean for the rest of the plot line. The urban legend in question popped up and we all had a great laugh.

On the way home, however, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. Taking out my trusty notebook, I wrote like a madman, cranking out a rough full-length synopsis while on the 20 min. train ride home. Rarely had I felt such a passion and drive for something that it simply flowed out of me and onto the page. It was…refreshing! When I finally arrived back home, I typed up what I wrote and sent it off to my friend Christian. Being the hard-working, proactive type that he is, his immediate response was: “I love it. We’re doing this in the spring. Start writing.”

And that is how I found my way to where I am now, making a more detailed outline of my future script, molding events and relationships and finding the beginnings of the story and drama held within. Things have slowed some what with other shows opening within the next couple of weeks, but still I find time to chip away at it piece by piece. Like any piece of writing, it has its good days and its bad - or rather its easy and its hard. But it’s exciting to feel so passionate about a piece of my writing again after feeling so down about it for so long.

To underscore this, my wife and I attended the New York Innovative Theater awards tonight, there to support a friend and a colleague who was receiving a lifetime achievement award. Sitting through the ceremony, I found myself overwhelmed by the sense of community in that large auditorium. It is something that I realize I have been missing out on for the past decade or so, locking myself away and trying to live a lonely writer’s/actor’s life. But the inspiration, I find, can’t come solely from within. It comes from without, from the people you surround yourself with and the communities and events you are involved in through your life.

Sitting in the dark of that awards hall, I feel like I found something that had been lost so long ago that I questioned whether it had ever actually existed…a need to create and to be around my peers. Again, no doubt this is something most people have figured out a long time ago, but at a certain point for me, I tried a different path and it has taken a long time to realize that it probably wasn’t the best I could have chosen. So, as I work on this new piece, I aim to ride this feeling into a new era for myself, one of creativity and production. No matter whether they’re good or bad, it’s time to get these ideas that have been in my head for so long and send them loose upon the world.

THOUGHTS: Where Was I?

Soooooo…about that whole, “Turning the corner & blogging every week” thing…

Life happened. In a big way. My energy, attention, and creativity have been pulled in a million different directions the past few months and stretched taffy-thin, leaving me little time - and motivation - for keeping up a blog. While true, I also recognize this for what it is: an excuse. A good one, but an excuse nonetheless.

As of this past Thursday, I have just helped direct, open, run, and close one of the breakout hits of this year’s New York International Fringe Festival, FATTY FATTY NO FRIENDS. It was a true joy being a part of this project almost from its conception and to see it grow & take shape, becoming this beautiful and heartbreaking piece of theater. There have have been only a few things that have made me more proud than this show and there is a pain in my heart knowing that I have to let it go and move on to our next project. The memories will always be there, however, and I look forward to returning whenever I feel like it.

Next on the agenda: THE DREAM VAULT CYCLE. This is something that I have no doubt spoken of at some point on this blog but it is amazing that in a little over a month, it will finally be put on its feet before an audience. This has been a passion project of mine for years, and though its expanse has grown in that time, it has still been an at times exasperating trial to finally get it going. Luckily, with the great friends and colleagues that I work with, it is finally going to happen.

What about the writing? After all, this IS a writing blog. Well, while I’ve been busy directing and producing, the writing has been slow; not necessarily taken a back seat, mind you, but not on the top of my list in terms of priorities. All of that will change come November. Already I am working on writing a brand-spankin’ new musical - my first - for early next year. While I don’t want to spoil anything, I will say that if I can craft it to be just so, it is going to be big. Really, really big. And then there is the whole question of NaNoWriMo…

So with a bit more time returning to me, I’m looking to pick this up once more. While I hesitate to promise regular updates - come on, that would be the 5th or 6th time - I will promise to do my best to stick with it as I navigate a life full of projects. More to come later!!

Visual Inspiration:More Prairie Skies by Clarence - via Flickr
NOTE: If you like this photograph, please click the links about (the underlined bits) to see more of the photographer’s work. Please help support them in their craft.
I have nothing much to say about the picture, other than it’s breathtaking. As my schedule has filled up recently, I find that I am becoming more and more homesick. The prairie, the sky…they are bittersweet for me, both soothing and harsh at the same time.

Visual Inspiration:More Prairie Skies by Clarence - via Flickr

NOTE: If you like this photograph, please click the links about (the underlined bits) to see more of the photographer’s work. Please help support them in their craft.

I have nothing much to say about the picture, other than it’s breathtaking. As my schedule has filled up recently, I find that I am becoming more and more homesick. The prairie, the sky…they are bittersweet for me, both soothing and harsh at the same time.

AUDIO INSPIRATION - TI PREGO, MEMORY MAN by A Winged Victory For The Sullen

NOTE: Like the song? Click on the links above (the underlined bits) to find more songs from the album and artist…help support these artists in their craft!

A Winged Victory For The Sullen is relatively new to my ears, though they’ve been around for a few. What they capture perfectly in their music is a relaxed and atmospheric sense of wonder that is rarely replicated by anyone else, in my opinion. It isn’t oppressive but rather lightly playing around you and letting you come to your own conclusions. Great for a session of writing, brainstorming, or just relaxing.

THOUGHTS: Embarking On Something New

Like many writers out there, I’ve found myself sitting on several manuscripts in various states of existence - some outlined, some first drafts in need of an edit, and a very few finished. I’m certainly not for want of some writing to do. Still, it is a bit disconcerting that I have this fear of returning to these old works and actually completing them. Perhaps it’s the concern that they might be ruined, or that no one will like them, or any number of other excuses I could toss out. The point is I have some work to do and simply haven’t done it.

However, this is something that I am forcing myself to correct, though not in the way I probably should. Rather than tackling these projects head on…I’m starting a completely new one. While that may seem like a horrible idea, I feel that I should see something all the way through, straight from beginning to end, before going back and revisiting my older pieces. This way, I avoid all of the hang-ups of dwelling in the past and trying to find my creative spark in those worlds, as well as hopefully carrying the momentum from this project back on to those. Risky & stupid? Maybe. But I’m doing it, so too late.

In any case, this new project will also take me a bit out of my comfort zone as well in many respects. A horror screenplay under the working title of HAPPY, it will force me to not just focus on the descriptions that I so love in fiction and poetry, but instead on the characters and dialogue as the driving force of the plot. Additionally, while I revel in tales of horror, madness, and fantasy, pulling them off well in my own writing is something I’ve been working on and still need to refine. I’m well aware of the tropes in the horror genre and I hope that I can create new ways to scare and unnerve an audience with this effort.

As I go, I’ll be updating my progress here so feel free to follow along. Hopefully, in the next few months, I’ll have something that will chill you to the bone!

AUDIO INSPIRATION: I Gaer by Sigur Ros

NOTE: Like the song? Click on the links above (the underlined bits) to find more songs from the album and artist…help support these artists in their craft!

I feel this matches perfectly with this week’s V.I. Sigur Ros’ atmospheric rock ebbs and flows between intense and reflective, bringing forth an entire range of emotion over a 6:30 time frame. While lead singer Jonsi’s voice is heartbreaking in its yearning, it’s often the interludes between verses that tell the stronger story. Certainly Sigur Ros is a band I feel everyone should be listening to, but if nothing else, simply close the blinds, put on your headphones, crank it up to 11, and let this song take you away.

VISUAL INSPIRATION: Ancestral Home by Fran Molloy - via Flickr
NOTE: If you like this photograph, please click the links about (the underlined bits) to see more of the photographer’s work. Please help support them in their craft.
Living in the big city certainly has its perks. However, as a mid-western guy, I long for a return to the quiet and the wide-open spaces. Combine that with a head full of romantic and fantastic ideas and locales and you get the picture above. A terrific feeling of isolation (an odd thing to say, I know) in the middle of a gathering storm, with the bare remnants of humanity there to provide shelter. Awe-inspiring, terrifying, and exhilarating all at the same time.

VISUAL INSPIRATION: Ancestral Home by Fran Molloy - via Flickr

NOTE: If you like this photograph, please click the links about (the underlined bits) to see more of the photographer’s work. Please help support them in their craft.

Living in the big city certainly has its perks. However, as a mid-western guy, I long for a return to the quiet and the wide-open spaces. Combine that with a head full of romantic and fantastic ideas and locales and you get the picture above. A terrific feeling of isolation (an odd thing to say, I know) in the middle of a gathering storm, with the bare remnants of humanity there to provide shelter. Awe-inspiring, terrifying, and exhilarating all at the same time.

AUDIO INSPIRATION: THE CHACONNE (feat. Matthew Santos) by Dessa

NOTE: Like the song? Click on the links above (the underlined bits) to find more songs from the album and artist…help support these artists in their craft!

To go along with the Visual Inspiration this week, I thought a sweet little trip-hoppish song would fit perfectly. I tend to think in terms of images, more specifically camera angles and movement. This song brings about a somber moment, walking amongst rain-splashed streets trying to get back on top of your life. The beats and the mixture of Dessa’s lighter, slightly smokey voice and Matthew Santos’ sweet refrain make a great dichotomy and, more importantly, tell a clear and heartbreaking story. One of my favorites.

PS: This isn’t the best quality recording, so I highly recommend checking out the iTunes preview to hear the difference.

VISUAL INSPIRATION: 6th Street Grittyscape by Lori Bucci - via Flickr
NOTE: If you like this photograph, please click the links about (the underlined bits) to see more of the photographer’s work. Please help support them in their craft.
In a Noir type of mood today. No rhyme or reason…just needed to see something gritty! Enjoy!

VISUAL INSPIRATION: 6th Street Grittyscape by Lori Bucci - via Flickr

NOTE: If you like this photograph, please click the links about (the underlined bits) to see more of the photographer’s work. Please help support them in their craft.

In a Noir type of mood today. No rhyme or reason…just needed to see something gritty! Enjoy!

AUDIO INSPIRATION - SANDSTORM by Peter Gabriel, from PASSION: MUSIC FOR THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST

NOTE: Like the song? Click on the links above (the underlined bits) to find more songs from the album and artist - thought it IS Peter Gabriel, so you probably should know where to find his stuff by now. Either way, help support these artists in their craft!

So this is another double up on an album since I’ve started this blog (I listen to a wide variety of music, I swear!) but when you’re looking for weird and exotic, rarely can one do better than Peter Gabriel’s soundtrack to THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST. And while my previous entry from this album is a bit softer and reflective, SANDSTORM is 100% ominous. It’s an oncoming storm, a traveler lost in a foreign land where danger lurks around every corner, salvation just over the next rise but always out of reach. This was the second album that I ever bought (The first one was Peter Gabriel’s US, when I was 11 years old…this one I bought 3 days later. I’ve been a fan ever since), and to this day I continue to be obsessed with the vocal and instrumental textures - and genius - of this album.