Sunday, April 4, 2010

No Such Thing as a Bad Dead Guy

Easter and Spring are both celebrations of renewal and resurrection, so I'd like to talk about death. Rather, I'd like to talk about the celebration of death in the form of obituaries.

I've chatted a few times here and other places recently that I've been feeling drained creatively. I haven't really wanted to write much and my reading has been dry as well. Then TV writer and former journalist David Mills died and I started reading about his life and work. I was familiar with him from his work on NYPD Blue and Homicide, but that was the extent of it. As I read the flurry of obituaries popping up after his death though, I found myself inspired by his work and his legacy. I've always been conscience of my writing legacy, write or wrong, and how I'll be remembered after I'm gone. So reading about what someone had accomplished during their life kind of kicked my as mentally and shook me out of my funk.

And if that wasn't good enough, Mills's cause of death was the same as RENT writer/composer Jonathan Larson so I went back and read up on his life and legacy which only served to further fuel my revitalization. So not only did I get this blog post out of the situation, I made some excellent progress on my Nero Wolfe contest short story, and also wrote a recession-based flash fiction story that I didn't think I'd have the mental focus to tackle.

This also has me itching to refill the rest of my tank. One of the reasons I think I've been lacking inspiration is because I haven;t been exposing myself to the things that used to feed my creativity. My writing has always been fueled by my reaction to other art. Before kids, before marriage, I used to watch movies, go to plays, go to dance recitals, look at paintings, and even dinosaur exhibits. All of it, and my reactions to it all, got socked away in my brain and mixed with the goo in my subconscious then trickled out in stories and novels for several years. But now I think I've tapped out that reserve and it's time to restock the cupboard.

So how do you all fill your tank? Even if you're not a writer, do you find it necessary in life to be exposed to art and culture?


John McFetridge said...

Bryon, did you ever read David Mills excellent blog, "Undecover Black Man?"

To answer your question, yes, I do often go looking for inspiration in art. Sometimes I watch a movie just for the one or two scenes that will trigger something.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Film, music, books, art, and random conversations inspire me. In fact, I was watching Oprah the other day, and someone said something that sparked a short scene in my current ms. Inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes we're just not aware enough to receive it.