Monday, September 15, 2008

The Creator Within

Inspiration. Where does it come from? For that matter, where does it go? What mercurial demon drives every original thought from your head just when the big opportunity looms in the form of a [client, boss, publisher, you pick the authority figure who can make or break you], leaving you an empty, non-creative husk, just as s/he asks [pick the one that applies]: "Tell me about your [portfolio, play, book, project, great idea]."

ARRGGGH!!! Pardon the venting. I just had to get that out of my system. I'm sure the twitching will stop soon.

Anyone who's done anything other than file paper clips has been there, if only in their nightmares. People who live and die by their creative ideas spend more time there than the average person, which only heightens the blind terror induced when that kingmaker looms on the horizon.

I was a lyric soprano in my twenties, and when I was singing my worst nightmare was, you guessed it, forgetting the words in front of a packed house. The night of my Master's recital, I took my spot in the crook of the piano ready to perform a Handel aria with a trumpeter who launched into his opening volley with great gusto. Just as he reached the high note that signaled my cue, my mind did the unthinkable and went completely blank.

The words disappeared as if I hadn't spent the last 9 months preparing for that moment and I stood on the precipice of disaster, my mind racing through all the other music I was going to sing later in the program. Everything but the first line of the Handel aria ripped through my cranium in a torrent that would have crashed a Superdome and time telescoped in front of me like the yawning gates of Hell. Then I remembered the most important thing my first voice teacher had ever told me. "Relax."

I opened my mouth and the words came out, completely unbidden and with no conscious thought whatever. My subconscious genius kicked in, carrying me along on a wave of music that I rode through the rest of the concert. I was still there, breathing, counting, hitting my marks and playing off the energy of the chamber musicians I performed with. But my conscious brain became the observer who watched the "Underlord" pilot the ship to safe harbor.

I'm convinced that the reason the concert was a transcendent experience was because I turned control over to the part of my brain that doesn't play in the mundane sphere, allowing it to open me up to musical possibilities I'd never have reached with the seatbelts on.

These days I work with engineers and designers who dream stuff up, and I write because I really can't stop myself. I've always been a writer first, second and third, but that's another story. The thing that struck me today was the idea that all of us have this hidden genius that takes different forms, depending on our personal inclinations & talents. And I am regularly blown away by the things creative people produce, seemingly from balls of string and paper clips.

I saw a piece in the April '08 issue of Wired Magazine that speaks to this. It's a photo essay by Nick Waplington (text by Mathew Honan), documenting the places where inspiration struck a few of the creative geniuses of our time. Check out Eureka! and comment on an unlikely place where you had a moment of inspiration that really led to something you treasure.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Harvest

The call of one unknowing, unthinking arose in the void of night; seeking obliteration in the arms of the Destroyer.

Called from the ashes of the hopes and dreams of the innocent, Samael came forth to walk the streets in search of his summoner, whispering, whispering.

The sweet venom of his tongue lulled the sleepers ever deeper into the void; drinking deep from the cup of their greatest fears and darkest desires.

He carried his scepter in his left hand, his crown upon his brow, taking his fill of the city's unholy nectar; his heart swelling with joy.

The Revenants arose and followed in his shadow, faithful pack awaiting their master's command.

Weeping dreamers cry out for respite, but Samael is unmoved; The Harvest is come and none may turn away from it.

He raises his hand and the moon bleeds; there is no escape from the oblivion of his seductive embrace.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Creative Throwdown

This whole joint project started as an experiment when I saw Sharon's piece "Judgment" and my imagination just took off like a rocket. I sat down and created the text for "The Harbinger" in an embarrassingly short period of time. She really liked it and suggested we put it together on Urban Signz as a joint piece.

We realized that this would be an interesting way to explore material for a graphic novel we've been thinking about co-creating. We're not committed to a specific direction at this point because we want to keep our options open. That's a really nifty way of saying we don't have a clue.

Strangely, the whole business seems to be taking on a life of its own, leading us down this rather apocalyptic path into the nightmares of the unnamed city. In the interest of full disclosure, we're having fun with it and just sitting back to see where it takes us.

So, one discovery we've made is that going from image to text is challenging, but the richness of the images Sharon creates tend to amp up my imagination and point me in a direction. I think it's a function of that "picture = thousand words" phenomenon.

Our latest round of creative throwdown goes the other direction, which I think is going to be more challenging. I wrote a piece and sent it off to Sharon to create a complementary image. I had a huge, rich tapestry of visual content to work from, but she's stuck with 150 words.

Oh, and one other note is that we don't consult each other during the creative throwdown. We work independently, reacting to the image or text we've been given.

I'm excited to see where her imagination takes my text in this next round. Stay tuned.

Friday, August 8, 2008

A Tree Grows in Chaos - The Guardian is Called

Once, he was a man, but that time is past. It means nothing to him.

His life and those he loved are dust at the foot of the Tree where he rested for a thousand centuries.

His memories like dust motes floating on the air before him, tantalize him, forever out of reach.

None of that matters. He has been called; Guardian and defender of the blissful, ignorant living.

His time is come and he must rise to meet the power of the Reckoning with bones and spirit where flesh would fail.

Stripped of desire, purified of love and hate, he will stand against the Destroyer with only his bones and his will.

He waits in the light of a killing moon for it to begin, wondering what it would be to feel again.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

A Tree Grows in Chaos

Newest study for the painting for our graphic novel.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Harbinger

The populace slept and dreamed of darkness; the light of a million stars extinguished in a careless moment of God's inattention.

And in their dreams of darkness the seed was planted and quickened, springing forth to take the form of a man.

Arising, awakened from the sleep of ten thousand centuries, The Harbinger walks the streets of the city.

He brings with him the spark of Reckoning, igniting the dreams and nightmares of the people.

Burning through the city, the Prophecies are revealed and the people look to The Harbinger.

He says nothing, knows nothing, moving as a shadow with no malice in his heart.

He is not Savior or Demon, merely the one who turns the Wheel at the End of Days.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Read the Signz

What's Urban Signz and what's with the weird spelling?

We're a couple of creative people living the the Pacific Northwest, on the lookout for the signs of life in our urban landscape. And since we're plugged into the Web, our landscape takes in the whole world.

Culture is moving at the speed of light and sound and text through cyberspace. We're all creating the great mash-up global culture that will challenge all our assumptions and maybe even change the world. Should be an interesting ride.

I'll capture my impressions in words, while Sharon is all about the images. And sometimes, we may just collaborate on pieces for the blog.

If what we present stirs your interest, thoughts or inspires you to share your own view of the fractured post-millenial global community, please feel free.

It's all about noticing. The signs are there if you look for them.