When Gods evolve

In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Genesis; 1; i-iii

Ancient of Days

Ancient of Days (William Blake)

I know the feeling.

I am the Creator and the Destroyer. I am Fate pulling the strings of Destiny. I am Existence itself. The Void remains until I choose to illuminate it.

A tad full of myself? Perhaps.

But it comes with the territory, because I am a writer.

Despite all present evidence to the contrary, I am an introvert; and as a child, I tended to avoid contact with others out of fear of injury and a touch of self-loathing.

My escape from this fear was my imagination and the worlds I created.

Where the world around me was filled with questions, uncertainty, chaos, the worlds of my mind were clean, certain, orderly. Good was good. Bad was bad…and even bad was good given time and understanding.

And over all of it, I was God.

The world didn’t exist until I put pen to paper, and just as quickly, it blinked out of existence when I lifted that pen.

I am no longer that child—well, perhaps a less fearful child.

The world in which I live is coloured with all shades. It has texture. It has flavour. And while it still has chaos and uncertainty, I am better able to embrace that chaos, to find freedom in uncertainty.

Likewise, the worlds I create have become more nuanced. Nothing is either good or bad, but instead is delicate and needful.

And over all of it, I am God. But even Gods evolve.

God Creating The Universe

God Creating the Universe (Layne Karkruff)

Where once I enslaved my worlds to my control, I am now more apt to offer degrees of freedom, to allow my worlds to ride the wave of existence.

I completely reserve the right to rain fire and brimstone, but am more likely to use a gentle hand with my charges. What were once caricatures are now sentient beings with a full range of emotions and thoughts, prone to mistake and capable of wonder.

And perhaps, in allowing my worlds to move beyond me, I achieve true Godhead. For as much as I no longer define their existence, they no longer define mine, and I am free to be me.

Ehyeh asher ehyeh.

I am that I am.

 

Blind – A nightmare

The_Darkness_Wall_By_Kon_2560X1600

Just before 5 am on October 14—Thanksgiving morning—I had the sudden feeling that I’d gone blind…in my creative centre. I could think of things, objects, but I could not “see” them in my mind’s eye.

Just moments earlier, I had been asleep, dreaming of the typical nonsense one dreams of when suddenly lines of darkness spread across the dream, at first like large lightning bolts but then growing in width to eventually swallow the entire picture. It was as though the picture tube in my head was failing and then extinguished. .And stranger still, the static was accompanied by a slight clicking sound, and then the screen was blank, black, empty.

The sensation was strange enough to wake me up. I lay there in bed wondering what it was.

I wasn’t literally blind. Even in the near pitch darkness of the bedroom, I could make out shapes—the storage racks in the closet, the dresser, the bedside lamp. So, what was happening?

I tried to close my eyes to go to sleep, but all I saw was darkness, the flashes of light that one sees when closing the eyelids but continues to look. Have I had a stroke?

I tried to think of a duck—I don’t know why a duck, but it was a duck—and couldn’t see it. Still can’t, really, at 5:10 am.

This may sound ironic, but I immediately wondered if my imagination had died. I tried to tell myself a story, in my head, and the words came hesitantly at first, but soon began to flow.

I imagined a man being thrown from a car—again, I don’t know why that topic—and while I could narrate the event, I couldn’t really visualize it.

The door swinging open as the car veers. The man tumbling sideways through the opening, his body crumpling as it hits the pavement, limbs flailing as it rolls. He was already unconscious or dead when he fell out, it would seem.

Even now, as I write out the scene I created earlier in my head, the picture is tentative, furtive. I am somewhat relieved that I get any picture at all, but am still bothered about how fleeting it is.

I’m not struggling for words, which is some solace, but then this is my analytical mind that is speaking, telling the story of what I am experiencing, rather than my creative mind, telling a story of events completely synthetic.

If the thought of having lost my visual imaginative centre didn’t scare me so much, I’d be amused. For the last couple of weeks, as I complained to Leela yesterday, I have found it difficult to get to sleep because my mind has raced with ideas—ideas for scenes and rewrites in my latest screenplay, ideas for the DDNews article I have due shortly, ideas for social media, ideas for my blog.

Hell, I’ve even taken to seeing events in my life as a screenplay.

I am just getting over a cold, and while waiting for sleep the other night, I realized that I was thinking about my symptoms and my experiences with them as though they were written as a screenplay. I would consider them and then try to rewrite them for more dramatic effect. It was odd.

I wasn’t dissociating per se, pretending that it was happening to someone else, stepping out of my body. Rather it was more like I had morphed my reality into a printed page. It’s hard to explain, especially at 5:26 am.

And now, my mind races for exactly the opposite reason. My inner video screen has gone out. The bulb is shot. I don’t see what I think. And that terrifies me.

I have often told people that my writing feels like it is less about my creation and more like I am simply transcribing a movie that only I can see. The movie, story, idea already exists in the cosmos and is merely using me as a conduit through which to express itself.

This is not to denigrate my talents as a writer—or at least, I don’t think it is—but I think the talent is in not preventing that flow, not ignoring the sights, sounds, tastes, feelings as they move through me and eventually out of the nib of the pen or fingertip on the keyboard.

What if that flow just got turned off? What if that nexus of creative spirit just moved on to someone or somewhere else? This doesn’t feel like the standard “I’m a talentless hack” anxiety. I am a very talented hack.

This feels more like a switch has been turned. Like I have gone blind.

Maybe it’s the cold medication taking its toll. Maybe it’s my brain’s way of coping with the recent hyperactivity. Maybe it’s nothing and the switch will turn back on, the system will reboot in my sleep.

I hope so.

Because this is one nightmare I couldn’t live with.

(Image is property of owner and is used here without permission)

Monstrous Toronto

While wandering the streets of Toronto yesterday with a couple friends, we stumbled through the Kensington Market region in the downtown core, which becomes an urban pedestrian market every Sunday.

At one end, a series of creatures emerged from the overgrown garden of a house, catching my eye and my imagination.

I haven’t been through the artist Moses Kofi’s web site, but offer it (and some of his creations) here for your amusement and intrigue.

PS I am in no way connected with the artist…I just really like his stuff!

Child’s play isn’t child’s play

Colloquially, when someone—an adult—states that some activity was child’s play, they are trying to convey that the action was simple or easy, that it took no effort. And yet, their use of the expression couldn’t be more wrong.

I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon yesterday with a few friends and their kids at the local beach. The kids ranged in age from infant to teen, although the majority were in the 3-5 range, I think—at my age, anyone under 30 looks 12.

Regardless, when lunch was over, the younger set and a few doughy adults headed to the water, where things got serious. Not for the adults, you understand, whose toughest job was to retrieve a tossed flip-flop from the frigid waters of Lake Ontario. No, it was at this moment that the child’s play began in deadly earnest, for four of the middling sprites decided to build a canal system that would have made the Panama and Suez engineers blanch.

Miran, the eldest of the group, became overseer, designing a series of causeways that challenged the imagination. Mounds of sand became islands in the stream. Canal walls were carefully constructed, through trial and error, to ensure sturdiness in the face of aquatic onslaught.

Cole, the lone boy in the group, became a human bulldozer, carving access channels to the lake itself that would help fill the channels with each invading wave. Samantha and Hana, meanwhile, worked bucket brigade, supplementing Cole’s efforts with frequent trips between lake and canal system.

This was not child’s play, despite it being play by children.

With each set back—a minor sand slide, a misplaced deluge, pee break—there would be a momentary expression of frustration followed quickly by brief meeting to discuss options and then an action plan to right the wrong. A lot of adult companies could stand to learn from this lesson.

This is not to say the process was flawless. At one point, Miran decided that she wasn’t crazy about the canals under construction and instead wanted a massive lake, which would have necessitated the removal of a large island. A new corporate executive is born.

She was quickly talked out of this by her subordinates who felt challenged enough to complete the canal system, let alone initiate island removal.

The children worked tirelessly for an hour or so and made substantial headway, but like all good infrastructure projects, senior management (parents) eventually got bored (and not just a little sun-stroked) and wanted to head back to the house.

Reluctantly, the children packed up shop and abandoned the construction site. Unbeknownst to them, however, as quickly as they left the site, another altitudinally-challenged crew appeared to continue the job.

This is how I want to live my life; playing with fervent intensity. I accept there will be momentary setbacks—as I approach 50 years, pee breaks are a necessary evil—but I will not let those setbacks deter me in my goals or disturb the pleasure I get in pursuing them.

I am embracing child’s play 2.0.

(Ab)Use your imagination

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Four more reps! C’mon, you can do it. Three more reps! Don’t quit now. Two more reps! You’re a champion. One more rep! Almost there. Annnnnd, you are done. Way to go!

Phew!

As you may be able to tell, I recently started a fitness routine, a boot camp if you will. The nice thing about it is that I can still eat and drink whatever I want and the only reason I break into a sweat is because Toronto’s experiencing a nasty heat/humidity wave.

Just over a week ago, I started a screenwriting boot camp of sorts called Screenwriting U, which is designed to teach you how to create the most stunning and saleable scripts that Hollywood will eat up. (My apologies if this sounds like an infomercial.)

All I know right now is the program—the ProSeries—is kicking my ass.

For the next six months, I will have an assignment practically every day (including weekends) that is designed to push me to excel at EVERY aspect of screenwriting; e.g., concept, plotting, character, conflict, narrative, marketing.

I won’t go into any detail as to what we are doing—that would be improper and unethical as the fine folks at Screenwriting U have to make a living—but I can tell you about the outcomes.

At the moment, we’re working on concepts.

Once most of us come up with a concept that really interests us, we typically start writing right away, whether actual dialogue or mapping out plot points. We’re excited. We want to see our amazing idea come to life. Tomorrow is too far away.

No such luxury here.

In the true Full Metal Jacket sense, the instructors are making us break our ideas down to build them back up. And once we’ve done that, we do it again. And again. And again. Each time with a slightly altered method and/or goal.

In nine days, what was six interesting ideas (to me, at least), has become 30 new ideas, some of which are completely lame whereas others are pretty damned good, and more importantly, a hell of a lot more solid that the originals.

It’s a brainstormers wet dream and nightmare all rolled into one.

No matter how thoroughly I think I have developed an idea, just a little more time (or time away) shows me that I can go a little further with the idea or take it in new directions. As with the writing process itself, it is the permission to fail spectacularly with an eye toward finding something truly amazing.

And like physical exercise…what, I did that once…it is painful as hell in the early going, but it does get easier. And when it gets easier, I’ve got to make it hurt like hell again. I’m building imagination muscle memory. I’m making these thought processes second nature.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go change…oh, wait, that would be telling.

PS Hal Croasmun, our drill sergeant, is nothing like the guy in Full Metal Jacket, unless you wanted to imagine verbal enthusiasm replacing verbal abuse.

(First image is used without permission because I like to push the envelope, or any other piece of stationery, for that matter. Clip art below clipped without permission.)

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Patterns and redirections

Sometimes things just don’t look right when you’re taking a walk, or they can seem to lead your mind one way and then switch-back in another direction.

I had a few of these moments in my recent walk through downtown Toronto.

Between the Signs

One thing I love about signs is they can say so much more than the words written on them. Whether there is a subtext within the words or it is simply a matter of context, each sign tells a story that you might not see at first glance.

PS I just realized that a lie (li) takes you from “obvious” to “oblivious”…lovin’ me some words today.