Photographic Memory

Throughout the course of human civilization memory has been transient, plastic. The girl who broke your heart can, in time, become simply the girl you lived with ten years ago. Given more time she becomes either the one who got away or the one you can’t believe you almost married. But now, in the reign of the photographic image, the past is no longer malleable. It can no longer shift meaning in order to facilitate the narrative of your present circumstances.

We are now, all of us, cinematographers for the movie of our own lives. Not the star. Not the director. Not even the writer!”

There was more to that tirade – part of a speech given by a character who hated photography, in a book I read recently. It’s far too weighty a subject for me to cover in one post, and certainly on a day like today when I am so easily distracted. But while it would have been easy for me to dismiss the whole notion, there was part of me that could see where the character was coming from, and even agree with parts of his reasoning.

For me, photographs have always been more of a way of retaining memories; of capturing and chronicling moments in time to preserve for the future. Not even, like, future generations, per se. But in large part because I am afraid of forgetting my life, and in seeking to retain as much of it as possible, I’ve always taken as many pictures as I can. It was different back when you couldn’t see your shot until you’d had the film developed, and the little counter on your camera told you how many photos you had left to take before you needed a new roll. I was more economical then.

Now, my freaking phone has a camera in it, so I take pictures of pretty much everything! And then store them in a digital space, invisible to the naked eye. That’s a transition I’ve made more slowly than most, and I still have a crap-ton of photos printed out and kept in albums all over my apartment.

However, delivery and storage methods aside, the pictures I take are usually done with the same intent – to preserve my life. Also, to show off my cool, creative eye. But mostly for the sake of retaining memories in a visual way.

I remember hearing or reading somewhere that taking a picture actually makes a moment less retain-able in the memory banks than observing it with your own eyes. As in, not through a lens, and not on a screen, but actually watching it and even interacting with it. That statement made me worry that I may have been doing things wrong, so just in case, I now try to do both – to watch and also to chronicle the important moments I want to keep.

This book’s character goes even further with it, however, and suggests that we’re not even a part of our own lives anymore; that we’re merely filming our lives instead of living them and forging them and creating them. That goes well beyond being able to remember things down the road, and instead states that we’re actually outsiders in our lives. Just watching life happen between the frames, so swept up in what’s passing that we’ve forgotten to exist in the now; to take hold of and manifest our own now’s.

Not the star. Not the director. Not even the writer. Memory is all but carved in stone via a photograph, and we’re unable to grow and change and evolve past things that happened, because we’ve made them permanent fixtures. We’ve made the past – and all of the emotion caught up in it – a permanent, unchangeable part of the present. The stories of our lives are being told through the eyes of everyone else.

Maybe all we’re really doing is watching it pass by.

Advertisements

Writing Choices

I realized something this morning, or at least noticed it happening again.

I was going over in my head some of the things I’m planning to do with the story contained in my first novel, and what I’m toying with having some of the characters do. One in particular is bothering me more than I’d realized at first, because it’s the one loosely based on moi.

Now, don’t get me wrong – our lives are not at all the same. I have a brother not sisters, I am the oldest not the youngest, and I am nearly a decade older than the character is in the book. I’m not with a Sarah, both my parents are still alive, I didn’t grow up in that house, or have Trick for a dog. I don’t think I’ve ever even carved a pumpkin for Halloween. Not on my own, at least.

So really, I guess that character is just more like how I think I’d react in the situation I wrote her into. Though I guess that could be said for everyone I write, in a way, because there’s part of me in all of my creations, to a certain extent. But that one in particular was written to give myself an alternate story to exist in, just as Sarah was written to give the person she was inspired by a different imaginary path to tread upon. Neither of them are more or less real to me than the others in their story, though. I just have I guess more of an emotional attachment to one in particular. I don’t want her to do anything I don’t think I would do.

But since the screenwriting conference, I’ve been considering doing just that. I’ve been struggling with a reason for it – a believeable reason, something that felt true – and haven’t come up with one as of yet. I did come up with a plausible yet similar act for which there would be justification (at least in her mind and kind of mine), so I might very well go with that. I’m not certain it’ll make the story stronger, but I’m not sure that it won’t, either, so I am betting on at least keeping the sense of truth to it all, instead. Because truth can do wonders for the power in a story, and for real life.

The crazy thing I realized or noticed again this morning was how much it was actually bothering me to try and come up for a reason for my character to do something against my own inner traits. I felt a little nauseous, and distracted, headachey and sadder than usual. When I say it was depressing to think about – to imagine possible scenes that would lead the character down the path to making that choice – I don’t mean it in a flippant or surface way. I mean that it affected me on every level – physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. I felt horrible just thinking about it in detail and trying to make it work.

My imagination can be pretty strong sometimes.

I felt worse about that than I have about many actual things that have happened.

So I’ve decided that – whether it works in theory or not – it won’t work for me. As in, I won’t be able to make it work, not for that character. I could easily have a different character in the story perform the act as it started out in my head, but that would have been more believable and far less powerful than having this particular character do this particular thing, but have the scenario leading up to it be a little different from what I had originally considered. Which means I get to add power to my story, while not making myself sick, or at least not in that way.

It’s amazing how much better I felt as soon as I realized the effect even thinking about it was having on me and made the decision to literally change my story. Even just a tiny alteration made all the difference.

Breaking Ideas

And that’s a wrap for the Toronto Screenwriting Conference 2016!  I’m not sure if any other event gets me so jazzed up and yet completely drained at the same time.  My body is exhausted, but my mind is full and wired and churning.  I have so many seeds of so many ideas, and very much want to make time to work on, like, all of them.  Definitely some more than others, though.  From ways to revamp things I’ve already written, to some brand new concepts and possibilities I want to try out.  At the moment, I have no idea if anything will happen with any of it, but at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about it, and am so excited to try.

In no particular order:

  • a screenplay to turn my first novel into a feature-length film.  Same characters, same general scenario, but vastly different plot points which would hopefully make it less gentle and far less predictable.
  • develop my Ellie Skye book for young readers into an animated series (far less expensive to produce, and endless possibilities to work with in that world)
  • I haven’t quite settled on what to do with Ebon Black – I originally conceived it as a middle grade chapter book, a one-off fractured fairytale that could possibly be turned into an animated feature, or possibly an animated short…maybe a comic book.  Something visual, but I don’t know which medium would suit it best, or even if it should be animated or if live action would work.  I think it’s almost always been animated in my head, but I haven’t completely ruled out live action just yet, either.
  • Suffer The Fury could definitely be developed for a series, definitely live action, but first the whole plot would need to be re-vamped and … I don’t know.  Made better.  Stronger. Faster.  Haha
  • one new project idea that I am giddy-excited about is that I want to try writing a spec script for one of my favourite shows of all time.  It’s no longer on the air, so in a way it’d be more like fan fic, but I am okay with that because I’ve never written anything like that before, either.  However, I’d also be writing it as though it were taking place now, like re-booting the series, but 30-odd years after the original series took place.  If it were still going on, what would be happening with those characters now?  What would the world in which they existed look like after all these years?

There are some far less realized seeds germinating, too, but those are the main ones that came out of this weekend.  The two I am most focused on right now are the Carving The Light screenplay, and the spec script/ fan fic script for a new episode of an old show that I love.  I’ve been wrestling with them both for the past two days, and have broken a few obstacles on each wide open, and I’m excited by the direction each seems to be going.  There would be a boatload of work to realize even a first draft of either one, but one step at a time, right?  First I’d need to  brainstorm ideas, especially for the spec script, because I only have the barest bones of an idea for it.  A plot would be handy.  Carving The Light at least has a plot, however basic.  I just need to turn it on its head and add some more meat to it.  A lot more, but I at least know where the characters are going, as opposed to the spec script.  Right now, it’s still at the “what if” stage.

In both cases, I am thrilled at the idea of living with those characters again, though, and that’s really what’s generating my excitement and drive in their directions.  I can’t even say which I am more drawn to yet.  My mind keeps flipping back and forth between the two, asking questions and trying to answer them.

I should really write down what I have breaking thus far, but I am way too tired, I think.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or after I walk Brody and brush my teeth.

I can’t believe the weekend is over already.

A Little More Flynn

11874069_10155919781285402_860005306_n

A bit of an addendum to yesterday’s post about Miss Flynnie, just because I fully forgot to mention this kind of cool part of the story!

So, even though I’d had my eye and heart on Chimneysweep, the night before I went to the shelter for the first time, I had a dream. It was actually kind of horrible, in that the shelter in the dream wasn’t a shelter at all – it was more like a shed in some guy’s backyard that had crates of cats inside. Some of them no longer alive, and all trapped in their own feces and the like. My mind was reeling, wondering how I could afford to save them all but not tip the guy off to the fact that I was totally calling the police as soon as I got away from his house. On a top shelf of crates, there were these three weird-looking creatures. They were more like birds than cats, but then again, that’s dream life for you. The one thing I remembered most about them was the shape of their heads in profile; the way their foreheads sloped and their faces curved toward their chins. They looked kind of like beaks, almost (hence the bird thing), but that’s just how their faces were built.

I felt weird when I woke up, and disturbed, and secretly prayed that the actual shelter was nothing like that (it wasn’t).

Later, once I was home with Flynn and trying to get to know her while also keeping a bit of a distance (because my heart still hurt over losing Kate) and wondering what I’d just done as maybe it really was too soon to have another cat, I noticed something. Flynn’s head is kind of shaped like the bird-cats in my dream the night before. It has the same kind of slope that’s different from most cats. I guess more of a black cat head, but she’s also so fluffy that the effect on her profile is very similar.

She’s actually a lot like Toothless from How To Train Your Dragon, both in appearance and in personality.

Anyway.

I don’t think there’s much else to report at the moment. Or there is, but I either can’t or am not about to talk about it here. I’m moving extra slow today, as is my mind, because I’m still not caught up from overdoing things on Monday, and I didn’t sleep very well last night. I woke up a lot, but I also went right back to sleep after. It just wasn’t anywhere near enough. And while I was asleep I was dreaming – usually about having to get somewhere, or having to gather things together, or looking for something, or just – all very busy things. Busy yet mundane. None of it felt very restful, that’s for sure!

I wrote a short story for an online course once years ago, and the protagonist had very vivid, busy dreams, so she was tired all the time, too. Almost to the point of not quite being able to tell when she was dreaming, because there was always so much to do. When something extra weird would happen, she could recognize it as a dream, but mostly there wasn’t time to stop and think. I’m not quite at THAT point yet…though if I’m dreaming right now then I’ll miss my post for today…and probably lose my job…never mind, I think I’m fine. Anyway, it was a busy and restless night.

I remember when I quit smoking (and I’ll tell that whole tale in another post), among many other things, I started having really vivid dreams. Colourful. But every once in awhile, I would dream that I’d had a cigarette, and my mind would be disappointed because it meant I had to start counting the days since I last had a smoke all over again. That was part of what got me through, I think. I am stubborn, anyway, but I also really didn’t want to start over again at zero. I’d always be so relieved when I woke up and realized that I hadn’t actually had that cigarette – that it had just been a dream , after all. Less satisfying in the moment, but still a relief overall!

DTV_cg_toothless_04