I’ve just finished taking a short course by writer Betsy Warland with the content based on her book Breathing the Page. One of the exercises Betsy gets us to do in class, and that she recommends we do on our own time, is to keep a journal; a dedicated writing companion to track the connections that we make and that can lead us to writing what we end up writing, to see how creative connections get made, and how our ideas form.
Last week, I recognized how my attending a bunch of different arts-related events had led directly to my focus on something that seemed to come out of nowhere. I realized how being immersed in others’ ideas, plays, films, musical compositions, fully-realized creativity, is so instrumental, maybe even critical at fueling one’s own creativity and that’s why it makes me (and it makes a lot of other people) angry that the arts in Canada are so underfunded.
The week before, I went to see a film called Amour at the Vancouver International Film Festival. It’s about the love between a man and his wife and how he cares for her after she’s had a stroke and then the decision he makes at the end of the film because he loves her. It made me think a lot about loss. And, I thought about each of the people who have been significant whom I’ve lost and I felt like I’ve perhaps, maybe not, experienced quite a bit of loss and I’d never really thought about the cumulative notion of that.
Then, last Saturday night, I want to see a play called Chelsea Hotel at the Firehall Arts Centre that weaves together Leonard Cohen’s songs and I began to imagine the playwright sitting at her desk, listening to Leonard Cohen, and the amazing creativity it took for her to come up with this collage of a play that required accompanying the songs with visuals that would be entertaining to an audience who was watching, not just listening.
The next morning, Sunday, I woke up really early, half awake in that semi-conscious state we’ve all experienced and words were beating against the inside of my head and I realized that the thoughts about loss had stayed with me and were being massaged, percolating new ideas. There were six people I was focused on. Six people whose lives had significantly entwined with my own and who had died, at different times in different ways and whose lives, and deaths, had impacted me. Two suicides. One from cancer. One had a heart attack at a very young. Two in old age. Then the title, Six Lives, kept getting repeated and the collage of the play the night before impacted how I thought about weaving a story together and now I’ve written 1,500 words, just in the iteration stage, but totally cognizant of how the artistic influences from the two weeks before played a role in this story coming to me.
Have you ever had the experience of being able to directly link an idea that came directly to you as a result of some other art form you’d recently been exposed to and appreciated? It happens all the time. Tracking it makes sense to me.