Monday, July 29, 2013

The Fading Sting of Loss

Every so often, I'll probably stray from the literary purpose of The Creative Spark, which is primarily to help you find the inspiration you need to keep at "it", whatever "it" may be. Today will be one such post.

I participate in a local Star Wars fan club called JediOKC. It is bunch of people and families that enjoy Star Wars and other sci-fi/fantasy media offerings--Ghostbusters, Aliens, Marvel and DC comics. Some of us are just in it to socialize. Some of us have pretty accurate costumes from the films. We meet twice a month for dinner meetings, discuss current interests, and plan for events where we can use these costumes to reach out to the local community. We help with fund-raisers and awareness campaigns, stuff like that. Mostly, we are just a big family.

On Thursday, we had a chance to participate in a very unique event--an elementary school end-of-year party. "Isn't July a little late to be celebrating the end of the school year?" you ask, and yes it is, unless the two schools being represented were wiped out in the tornadoes this past May in Moore, OK.

Held at Journey Church in Norman, OK, there were plenty of things to distract most young minds from the horrors they encountered only two months ago--dozens of inflatable slides and jumpers, snow cones, nachos, music, and of course, Ghostbusters, Jedi Knights and rolling Droids. For six hours, hundreds of families poured into the guarded facililty (to keep media out) as they collected yearbooks, exchanged autographs with friends, and posed for pictures with their classmates and teachers.

The most humble moment for me was when a family approached and asked for a private photo (that's me above using the Force to choke a Baron Ice Girl). Turns out, this was a family that had actually lost a child to the tornado. It was a good thing I was wearing a darkened helmet, because I started to choke up at the thought of the horrible weeks and months these people have just experienced. But guess what? If only for a moment, all the members of that family were smiling. They expressed their gratitude to me for my time, and visited other members of my group, posing and laughing at the festive (and goofy) nature of our costumes.

My take-away was two fold. First, thank heaven for groups and organizations like Journey Church that are willing to do whatever it takes to make events like this happen. There were dozens of volunteers that had dedicated untold hours into organizing this day, and the hard work showed. I am so grateful that they kept these Moore children in their sights even though the news isn't running stories about the tornadoes any more.

And finally, if this family could set aside their sadness, if only for a few minutes, and so recently after such a devastating loss, then there probably isn't much that we all can overcome in our own lives.

Creative Spark

What is the worst thing you have ever had to go through?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Collaboration Makes It Happen

It is amazing to me, the number of projects that I've started and finished as a result of sharing a meal with a friend. Many, many times in the past few years, I've found myself at a dead stand still--no prop builds, no stories or books--and after lunch or dinner with a friend, "Bang!" I'm back at it.

There is something inspiring about breaking bread with a fellow artist, writer or builder. Maybe it is because I'm sick of discussing politics, but conversations at the table generally turn to phrases like, "Do you know what I would like to see?" or "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" and before I know it, I'm back at it with both barrels blazing.

The Ghostbuster dinner you see above is a result of one such evening in July 2006 at an Arby's in Oklahoma City. A friend and his son simply asked, "Wouldn't it be cool to make our own Proton Packs?" and that was it, we were off to the races. It took a few months to get going, but on Halloween of that year, we had five packs and a great time chasing ghosts in downtown OKC.

Right now, I'm at exactly the sort of standstill that has lead to a four season "Breaking Bad" binge. Fortunately, the end is in sight (if not only because I've just started season five and season six is yet to be broadcast). Lunch with a good friend yesterday took the above stated route, and after a delicious meal at the Cafe 501 I left with a full stomach and a new graphic novel to write.

What role does collaboration play in your creative process? Has it even gone awry? Let me know what you think about the process and where you get your ideas. I'd love to feature you as a guest blogger here on The Creative Spark.

Until then, check out my podcast with fellow author Roger Colby (Writing Is Hard) called Fanboys On Fiction.

Creative Spark

List five things that are more easier to do with someone helping. Now list five that are easier to do alone. How could a character make one of these scenarios more difficult, with the result being humorous/sad/scary?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Feeling Creative?

San Diego ComicCon 2013 is over and now I am drooling for the upcoming films and comics that were teased to us for the past weekend. Most exciting--the Man of Steel sequel will be Superman/Batman, and all signs point to a heavy The Dark Knight Returns theme (if not in its entirety, then at least so far as the Sups Vs. Dark Knight story line goes).

What I love best about attending cons, even though I have yet to attend San Diego ComicCon, is the creative inspiration that comes from the energy of those gatherings. The costumes, the panels, the opportunity to find new sources of fandom (i.e., Kaiju Wrestling or new cons like OctopoiCon) all inspire me to get back to my computer/garage/sewing machine and start a new project.

It looks like my friend, Jerry Bennett, has already caught the Creative Spark from the Marvel announcement about Ultron's involvement with the new Avenger's sequel. Check out his fresh take on the character on his Facebook fanpage, The Illustrator Formerly Known as Jerry Bennett .

How do you find your Creative Spark? Drop me a comment and let me know. In the mean time, check out some the things that I've made--The Pirate Bride, a book I wrote with my then 10-year-old daughter, and its sequel, The Lost Crew; some of my prop and costumes at Garage Props on Tumblr.

Creative Spark

I envision this blog to be an opportunity to share my ideas about writing as well as my experiences as a consumer of all thing media, with a bit of opnion thrown in for good measure. I'll try to end each blog with a writing prompt or exercise that might get your writing engine started. So to start with:

List five of your favorite television show/movies. For each one, write out three things that make it unique. Take a step back and sketch out an original "idea pitch" that would include elements from these shows.