[Cover source: Flickr]
I’m always looking for inspiration in unexpected places. I get bored with routine. While I’m not keen on being physically surprised (part of my Control Freak nature – I’m working on it), I like to be surprised intellectually. It’s all part of the creative process, unlocking something deep inside you didn’t think of or wouldn’t have ordinarily. Saying, “Wow, that’s pretty cool. Why didn’t I think of that?”
Part of what I enjoy about intellectual surprise is one of the reasons I’m working on becoming a writer. When you love it, or anything you do for that matter, things are revealed to you. You step outside of yourself and something otherworldly takes over you. For me, it’s spiritual. I liken out-of-body creative processes with being close to God. I believe in Him, naturally I’d veer in this direction. I’m aware it’s not the same for everyone, but you get what I mean.
Oft times I’ve heard famous creative types get asked the question: How did you come up with this concept? When J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter, it was something she was asked. A LOT. She could never give a straight answer other than to say the idea just popped in her head and the characters led her. After enough responses like this, the rumor mill labeled her everything from a drug addict (“She must have been high when she wrote it; no one sober thinks of this.”), to a witch. Like cauldrons and broomsticks and black cats and True Blood-witches (yay True Blood!). Why couldn’t she just have been, I don’t know, AWESOME.
During the days of LOST (and don’t think I don’t hear your eye-rolling and loud, LOUD sighing), I couldn’t get enough of the show. The mystery. Where was it going next. WHAT WAS THE SMOKE MONSTER! It was one of the few shows I allowed to take me along for a ride, and I was never angry. (Nope, not even with “That Ending”.) I was, say it with me class, intellectually surprised. When it was all said and done, I wept like Jimmy Swaggart. I had wanted to know the mystery, as did most of America, but I didn’t want it to end in some sick, torturous way. I didn’t want to let the characters go. I was inspired by their stories. Inspired by the storytelling. Inspired by the mystery, the twists, the turns.
Afterward, when I had time to digest it all, I wanted to find JJ Abrams, sit him down, and ask him: How did you come up with this concept? JJ Abrams had made many a thing before LOST, but nothing was as memorable to me, or really made me love him, and Damon Lindelof, and Carlton Cuse as creative talents. Of course, you either loved it or hated it. I loved it, and didn’t (and still don’t) apologize. It was innovative. There was nothing like it on television before or since. Especially for those who loathed the show, you have to give it at least that much. Was I expecting to get all that from a stupid TV show? No. It’s TV. UNEXPECTED.
The catalyst for this post (and what has now become one of my favorite online videos) is of – stop the presses – JJ Abrams at a TED speaking. Don’t worry. I didn’t know what a TED was either before I saw this (shout to Trey Ratcliffe). In it, he explains a term I’d heard a lot while LOST was on air, in interviews from both JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof: Mystery Boxes. I love this because it takes inspiration and creativity and character and love for what you do, and puts it in a box.