Measured Extravagance

2001-05-03 - 9:15 p.m.

May Out There! Collaboration: Letting the Drama Queen Out For Thirty Minutes

First, create a scenario in which a part of your life is the basis for a play, a movie, or a TV show.

Scenario 1
Genre: slash/wishful thinking (with apologies to Lois McMaster Bujold)
Lady Mechaieh Vorpatril, daughter of General Ivan Vorpatril, a raven-haired beauty with her father's fondness for keeping a low profile (and inability to maintain it), nevertheless finds herself embroiled in both intrigue and romance when a mis-forwarded comconsole message retrieves her from Beta and sends her into the arms of Alys Galeni (daughter of Duv and Delia), a music historian who demonstrates various violoncello-fingering techniques on Mechaieh, to their mutual delight.

Scenario 2
Genre: film
Time: February 2000
Mechaieh's German shepherd has disappeared. Camera follows Mechaieh's car slowly crawling along streets and alleys, slowing down at a tipped-over garbage can. Linger on disappointment on Mechaieh's face as she realizes no dog is hiding inside garbage can. Continue on as Mechaieh drives into a park. At least, she thinks it's a park. Show furrow on Mechaieh's brow as she continues driving and peering for dog. Show Bubba at clubhouse setting down his binoculars and reaching for his keys with grim look on his face. Show Mechaieh's consternation as she reaches top of hill and it finally dawns on her that she's on a golf course. There is nowhere to turn around. Show Bubba park golf cart at foot of hill and walk up to Mechaieh's car.

    MECHAIEH (wearily): I'm not really sure how I got here.
    BUBBA (non-threateningly, but firmly): I'm not sure how you got here either, but you need to get out.

Who would portray you? Well, Michelle Yeoh would be cool, but I need to work out way, way more than I have been for that concept to be anything but laughable.

What would the plot be? Here's the thing: I can give you fantasies such as scenario 1, and I can give you vignettes such as scenario 2, but I cannot give you plots, not out of what I've already lived. I don't want to do that to myself or the other participants in the more interesting segments, and much of my life is non-dramatic. If I were a walking embodiment of a genre, I'd be an essay or a villanelle, not a novel.

Then, explain how easy or how difficult it was for you to create something like this---what was most interesting to you about this creative process? I already had the Bujold-based scenario in my head - I'd been thinking about writing it out as a riff for a Storyteller submission, but didn't feel I knew the Vorkosigan universe well enough to do a proper job of it. The episode of getting myself stuck on the golf course came back to me last night as I was ruminating on the collab topic - a nice example of how writing exercises get me to dig deeper and retrieve more than I might otherwise when left to my own devices. (Put another way, there tends to be way too much about roses, rain and Riesling in my creative writing when I don't accept challenges that push me out of my grooves.)

Is using your imagination something that comes easy for you, or do you find it difficult to express yourself in a creative manner? You know, these are really two separate issues where I'm concerned. It's very easy for me to use my imagination, but it's far harder to let it out of my brain and express myself to my satisfaction. I can spin you pretty sentences and outrageous scenarios all day and all of the night, but to shape it into something profound and/or lasting (or, shall we say, with the potential to be profound and/or lasting?). Writing in this journal is like jamming - I have fun with it, I think I do it reasonably well, and frolicking around here is like taking off the mental corset I have to wear for my day job and for more mundane activities like paying bills and harassing my congressman. But, that said, there is that incredible high when practice pays off - when I put the finishing touches on a poster or when I've come up with a really knock-em-dead couplet, neither kings nor all their favorites can touch me.

Do you daydream a lot? Constantly. I need to fantasize less and practice more.

Do you admire creativity, or do you prefer something less open to interpretation? Depends on the milieu and the venue and what I've had to drink. I don't tend to admire creativity for its own sake - everyone has the right to express themselves, but that doesn't mean I have to read or listen to any of it, much less admire - but I'm also thrilled whenever I hear about creative exercises allowing someone to break out of self-stifling habits or patterns. Of course, I also feel compelled to note that there is almost nothing in this world that isn't subject to interpretation - one can twist data and maps and figures to signify almost anything, given enough cooperation (or inattention) from others- just look at the Florida ballots, or the endless wrangling over AIDS research, or the symbolism of the Confederate flag, or...

Could you see yourself pursuing something creative in your future endeavors? Professionally, perhaps. Personally, always.

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