Creativity: Exposure (Television Part 2)

photo cred: www.sclance.com

To wrap up the Creativity: Exposure mini-series I would like to throw in a simple suggestion. If you’ve been watching American television or British television or Bollywood films all your life – to expand your creative thinking I suggest consuming products from different parts of the world than what you’re accustomed to.

We’ve already talked about the benefit of watching shows from different genres, now we will look at watching films steeped in different cultures. There was a stage in my life where shows like ‘Passions’ and ‘The Bold And The Beautiful’ were a staple. Those soaps and the mostly American and British books I read formed the bedrock of romance in my mind. It was no surprise then that my stories would mirror the themes that were the hallmark of those two cultures (which are more similar than most). Enter Bollywood – and there was a substantial shift. Now it wasn’t mainly about deception or conniving or charming your way into someone’s life but there was all this colour and impressing through talent (mainly musical) that I hadn’t encountered. Relationships were no longer founded just on power and money and beauty but on far much more. Furthermore in the ideas bandied about during the draft stages of my writing there was the introduction of a class barrier and finding love in arranged marriages… or the pursuit of forbidden love – concepts that were rare in Western media but commonplace in the Bollywood movies I watched. Did I mention the use of music to drive home whatever emotions the director wanted the viewer to feel? That was the time my writing rhythm underwent a revolution. Then came the Korean drama era where there was far more emphasis on the spoken word and the way they were delivered than in any other form of television I had seen up to that point. Lastly came the anime phase and there was another complete 180 degree shift with creative humour not only based on crude innuendos or the use of vulgar language (apparently they don’t specialise in Japanese) but the introduction of jokes based on the culture and tradition of the time.

My mind was learning the art of contortion, performing complex acrobatics to cater for all of these different ways to tell the same story… all because it wasn’t limited to watching films from a localised geography. Yours shouldn’t be either.

This concludes our Creativity: Exposure mini-series. I will talk about The Importance Of A Creative Ending and give an example in another double post to cap off the Creativity series tomorrow.

Untitled Project

There’s a soft buzz just ahead. He’s early – Max is never late – but clearly some students had something to talk about ahead of class. That was always the case, there was always something to talk about; more precisely, someone to talk about. One thing was certain though. They never talked about Max. He just wasn’t an interesting enough topic to bring up. If only they knew. Max methodically pushed the half-closed door wide open and walked purposefully into the classroom. He knew his destination, his prized seat, two rows from the front and right in the middle. It was just close enough to hear the teacher whisper and yet just far enough not to be classified as a teacher’s pet. He’d worked all of that out because he cared about what people thought of him; not knowing that people didn’t care to think of him at all. Slowly placing his satchel under his desk he gathered himself and sat, rather stiffly on the stool. That’s how Max did everything, with an air of royalty and calculation. The few that spared a thought for him (if only for a second or two) found his behaviour awkward. They just never understood him, partially because they never tried. Funnily enough Max knew this but didn’t mind too much. He cared about what people thought of him but so long as there was no hostility directed towards him he could live. He slowly took out his books, (Geography was next) and exactly 3 seconds after inking his pen Mrs. Elston arrived. Just on time. Max gave himself a mental pat on the back. Everyone shuffled back to their seats, the buzz of conversation slowly died down, albeit reluctantly. The question they were all anticipating and dreading fast approaching.

“Good morning class! Did you all do the work I assigned you yesterday?”

Silence. This was going to be one long morning… or was it?

“You really are setting a poor example here. How will the new student know how to behave if not one of you knows how to behave?” she said angrily although bizarrely there was a smile on her face.

A new student? Max thought. At this time of the term? But we’re nearly through.

“Maximus.” she mock-pleaded. “You’ve done your homework, haven’t you?”

Before Max could even take a breath she answered her own question. It was rhetorical then. Why? Because in spite of his elaborate seating plan it was a well-known fact that Max was the teacher’s pet, known by everyone – everyone but him. He was rather oblivious for the genius he was.

“Of course you have. So she’ll be taking notes from you. Teach her well.” She shot him a glance. Max thought it was menacing but he was an oblivious genius. A dunce would have understood that look immediately. Mrs Elston was being rather naughty but she liked Max and felt he needed a win in his barren social life.

“But I’m getting ahead of myself!” she exclaimed. She loved ramping up the energy out of nowhere. “Class, say hello to your new classmate. Her name is Maxine.”

Maxine walked gracefully into the classroom. A sharp hush fell over the room. Max decided to take a glimpse at the new student. Glimpse turned to look… and then to gaping stare. For the next few seconds all Max could hear was his own heartbeat and all he could see was her.

6 Degrees of Separation

Sticking to song titles this is one of my favourite songs by one of my favourite bands: The Script. When you are separated from something or someone you love deeply you may undergo some of these symptoms, more than aptly described by this talented group of artists.

 

“First, you think the worst is a broken heart.”

True line I believe. I think everyone has a different timeframe before it suddenly hits. You’re no longer tied to that person but your emotions – your heart – disagree. That hurts: what’s worse is you think it’s the worst part but it’s not.

 
What’s gonna kill you is the second part.”

The song never does state what the “second part” is. Unfortunately (or should I say fortunately) I don’t have enough first-hand experience to write from first person viewpoint but I can try assume what this is. It’s probably the memories of all the good things done together rushing through one’s head… and the realisation that it all came to nought.

 
“And the third, is when your world splits down the middle.”

You see them at every turn. They are in your mind’s eye the whole time and like some kind of stubborn cancer their memory just won’t go away; even when you try the not-so-chemo-therapy from friends and family.

 
“And fourth, you’re gonna think that you fixed yourself.”

“I’m fine now. I’m ok. I’m better off without them.”

You say it once, twice. Maybe you even start to believe it.

 
“Fifth, you see them out with someone else.”

How can they move on so quickly? Don’t they feel what you feel? You dread to ask but have to nonetheless:

“Was it… was it ever real?”

 
“And the sixth, is when you admit that you may have messed up a little.”

“I wish I’d never…”

Both regret and acceptance.  The ache remains but the separation should be complete.

PS I really enjoy listening to this song and would suggest you give it a listen, preferably the clean version because the original does have a word or two you wouldn’t want to hear a toddler saying.

That First Kiss

They stare deep into each other’s eyes.

Then they lean forward.

Their lips meet. It is bliss!

“AC-CHOO!”

Oh no! She sneezed.

Her cheeks flush a deep red.

“Eeew! Gross!”

That’s his response.

She almost cries.

Almost. 

But it’s ok.

He has a smile on his face.

Relief. Then joy.

She’s found the one for her.

They go again.

 

Fire & Ice

“You’re so beautiful.”

That’s how it always started. A thought. Simple, precise, never uttered by word-o’-mouth but conveyed via thought and somehow understood. I remember one dream I had, when I was around 14, quite vividly. I believe at that age I had already reached the height of my creativity. It was perhaps the best time to write down plots to future books because the ideas bouncing around in my head back then were, I believe, phenomenal. Of course writing them down would be considered a wise decision… so of course I never did follow through. Today I’ll recount as much as of the dream in this post as is enjoyable.

Stunning. That’s is how she appeared to me. A being of pure energy. Dazzled as I was somehow I wasn’t too overawed. I was caught between two states, of both wonder and serenity. Seeing her made me realise my concept of beauty previously had a fixed volume in my head, a virtual box that contained all the amazing things in the universe. She shred this box to pieces, expanding outwards to unfathomable depths, gorgeous beyond even the scope of words in a thousand dictionaries. I could not describe to you how she appeared. She never looked the same for longer than a second as her appearance seemed to be in a constant state of flux. Her hair would grow long and hug her temple. It would caress her neck – it would disappear altogether – yet her appeal never diminished. She must have been slight for even though she exuded power and elegance there was a vulnerability that drew me towards her like bees are drawn to symmetry. Something within me yelled, “Protect her!” But I don’t think she ever needed it, or ever would – after all, she wasn’t human.

The moment flowed for an immeasurably. It could have been an instant – maybe I spent hours gazing at her – either way there was not a hint of discomfort between us. She gave off a powerful glow at the start, radiant like the sun at midday. It was bright out yet you the blue light emanating from her skin was blinding. I should not have been able to see her without shielding my eyes but I did, clearly I was pulling the strings to this dream. I immediately knew something was wrong when her radiance began to ebb. She was dying. How I came up with this conclusion only God knows but I knew she was and I instantly picked up the reason why.

Behind her falling towards us like a comet was an orange streak, a violent fireball with malicious intent. I could feel the loathing seething off it’s dark red flames. The closer this comet grew towards her the dimmer she shone. I saw fear in those beautiful pale eyes though if you asked me what colour they were today I’d say “none and every”. It pierced my heart, that. I could not come to appreciate that look of fear, wouldn’t. I knew deep down that if I could shelter her from danger I would even if it cost me my life. Obviously I, being just a man, could not do so. In what rational world would a being of flesh and blood be the protector of one of pure energy? My mind saw the flawed logic and reconciled the impossibility by shedding off my skin and revealing a cool body beneath. There was a sizzling as my true form came into contact with the air for the first time. Ice. Ice colder than anything you can ever imagine; as tough as diamond, as fluid as honey – that is what hid beneath.

The rage from the comet intensified. Arms and legs extended out of the ball of fire that hurtled towards us. I could hear abusive yelling although I couldn’t perceive a mouth on the figure of flames as it tried to take me down. We hit. The collision was spectacular! A blast of steam and sound radiated out as we tumbled across an empty parking lot leaving dark streaks along the tarmac. Once on our feet rapid blows were exchanged. The fight was on.

The being of fire was kinetic. He flew, rapidly, then swooped down like an eagle and swept flames like massive whips towards me. A “broad” range of emotions swirled across his face – namely ranging from rage to fury. He hurled fireballs towards me from all angles. He was fast… but I was cool. I slid across the surface, a coating of ice preceding me, staying on the ground the whole time. In my mind a being of ice cannot fly. Ice is dense, fire is not. Thick shields of ice rose up from the ground beneath me and the fire man pounded them with fireball after fireball until he realised he could not burst through. There was no way he was getting a scratch on her. Not on my watch, so he came for me instead, I – her protector. Like a peregrine falcon in for the kill he dived, gaining speed at an alarming rate. I stood my ground and increased the ice around my feet, encasing them, making myself immovable. No matter the consequence this would be the final action.

We collided once more. There was a resounding, bone-chilling whoosh as a thin film of chipped ice spread in all directions. In my hands was the being of fire, immobilised and slowly dying down, the cold stifling the heat… until he disintegrated with a sigh, one of relief. It seems like the being of fire didn’t like his role in my story, perhaps he was acting outside of his will. Either way it felt good. But that shallow feeling of victory was dwarfed by the sheer elation upon seeing the look of pure joy on her face. She was safe, bright and beautiful and that is all that mattered.

 

The Most Beautiful Woman

Wow… my mind struggled to come up with anything more articulate. Wow… everything I had ever seen paled in comparison. Wow… before me stood the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.

Describing her is a waste of time, a waste of effort. Just think of the most beautiful woman you know. Then think what a person twice as beautiful would look like. Well she was ten times even that. She was so stunning there existed no jealousy in her peers, only awe. Traffic stopped for her to cross the street even when they had the green light. So gorgeous was she that her shadow always hung close, no matter the angle of light; her beauty far too magnetic. Yes, her kind of beauty was supernatural.

What were mere mortal men to do? This being was to be the end of us. We jostled for her attention. So great was her pull war between nations ensued. She was the modern day Helen of Troy. Companies collapsed as bidding wars to show who was the most wealthy took place. Intellects drew up schematics and equations and schemed to win her heart but ultimately failed to woo her. Artists made mind-bending pieces but when you are the most beautiful being what is attractive to you? Alas they failed too. Athletes chased after her heart with all their might but it was far beyond their reach. Even men with power could not unlock the safe that hid her heart. But I was among them, lowly me, using every gift I had at my disposal to win her heart. Her heart. Did it even exist?

Just as I was giving up, looking forward to a life of grumbling, knowing I had seen the most beautiful being but would have to live with less she turned towards me. She reached out to me and claimed me as her own. I could have died of ecstasy.

What I’d done differently only she knows. Men hated me. Plans to assassinate me were foiled when she claimed she would take her life if mine was. She said it with a smile on her lips. Did she truly mean it? It mattered not because it worked. Before then I was devoted but after… I dedicated my life to her.

“Who is the most beautiful being in this world,” she would always ask.

“You are!” I’d declare without hesitation. “There is no finer being in existence!”

She revelled in my praise and I was all too pleased to give it. This continued daily. I would only leave to shop for what she wanted. Things to complement her beauty. Those were costly. My ledger had been in the red for ages. That’s what credit cards are for I told myself. I would go out to buy her whatever she fancied and come back to tell her she looked more beautiful than ever. Everyday. For years.

Then the truck came… There was darkness. I swear I opened my eyes and I could still see it, the darkness. Light could not be found anywhere I looked. I did hear words though so surely I wasn’t dead? But they did say hearing was one of the last senses to go.

“I’m sorry but he shall never see again.”

Apparently that was the doctor. I’d had an accident on my way back from shopping. Even if I bothered with the specifics the reality of my situation would not change. I was blind – forever.

“Who is the most beautiful being in this world,” she asked numbly as a servant took my bags away.

“You are!” I declared without hesitation. “There is no finer being in existence!”

“You are blind you cannot tell. I do not need you anymore.”

She closed the door on me. The door to her house. It used to be mine but I had left everything in her name because she was beautiful. It was only with eyes unseeing that I could finally see. She may have been attractive – downright gorgeous beyond belief – but she was never truly beautiful. Not in the true sense of the word at least.

To a happier ending continue down below

So out into the street I went. I had no money and no voice to sing. I wandered in the dark yet it was midday, going where only God knew. I fell many times, it is hard to walk when you cannot see where you are going. I fell. Heart torn to shreds and the will to live drained from me I chose to stay down, this time for good. I let the darkness consume me. It must have been nighttime because my limbs went completely numb with cold. I tried to rub my toes together. Why were they so thick? Was that frost?

I was going to die that night. I knew it and I accepted it. When the darkness took me surely I wouldn’t be able to tell? Everything was dark anyway so I shouldn’t feel a thing. I was on the precipice of death. I couldn’t see it but I could feel it. And then. Wool. A blanket? No, a body. I was lifted away albeit with apparent diffiiculty. To where I know not. I heard soft grunts of effort. My too numb skin barely felt the small pressure as someone tugged at my shoulder. Weak as I was, I passed out.

Next came the warmth. It flooded through me like a veld fire on oil covered plains. My senses burst alight… except my eyesight of course. Singing. I heard singing. Not the loveliest voice I had ever heard but it brought me the warmest feeling I had felt in a long time. Coughing ensued. Unexpected, I wheezed and sputtered like a broken down lawnmower.

“You’re awake! Thank God you’re awake.”

There was so much life and relief in her voice I could not help but smile in spite of my current state.

“Here. Open your mouth, I’m going to feed you some soup. It’ll be hot so please sip carefully.”

The spoon was held with the utmost care and I was fed more gently than most babies ever have – or ever will.

“I don’t know why you were on the street all alone but I could not leave you to die there,” she continued. “Do you not have somewhere to call home?”

Grief hit me like a whirlwind. How could I respond to that question? Having given my life to someone only to be discarded like used toilet paper I became mute. The pain must have been clear on my face. She went on even more softly:

“It is not good for you to be alone… Maybe you can stay with me and help make this new house of mine a home?”

Tears, unbidden, shed from unseeing eyes, burst forth like jets of water from a shattered dam. Surely after all that had happened to me I’d finally come across one whose beauty could not compare. Yes, with eyes unseeing I had finally seen the most beautiful woman…

 

Imaginary Conversation (With A Pretty Girl)

Boy: Hey

Girl: Uhm… Hello.

Boy: You’re really pretty.

Girl: Well you’re really straightforward!

Boy: I was told honesty is the best policy.

Girl: That’s rather cliché of you, don’t you think?

Boy: Cliché? Maybe it is… my source of advice isn’t very… young shall I say.

Girl: Next you’re going to tell me your source of advice is your Grandma.

Boy: *feigns it but it looks like genuine surprise* Wait… you know her? How did you know? Have you met her before?

Girl: What? No. *laughs*

Boy: Ah. There we go. Mission complete. *Stands up to leave*

Girl: Wait… So that’s it? *raises eyebrow* That’s all you’ve got?

Boy: What? I think you may have mistaken my intentions, miss.

Girl: Oh I see. Well that was rather uninspiring. I’m disappointed.

Boy: I guess I failed my mission *moves to sit down*

Girl: No, no, it’s fine. No need to sit down again. I’m actually waiting for a friend so you might as well head on your way.

Boy: I seem to have offended you. Might I ask how?

Girl: *scoffs* I’m not offended. I’m just surprised.

Boy: By what exactly?

Girl: I expected more than just a “mission complete”. That came off as rather lame don’t you think?

Boy: You want to hear something awesome about that?

Girl: What?

Boy: … to be honest I wasn’t expecting you to respond so I didn’t have an answer ready.

Girl: *laughs* Oh my God, you’re hopeless!

Boy: See? That’s it! Right there! That’s what I was trying to do.

Girl: *wipes away tears* to prove how hopeless you are?

Boy: Well there’s that, but more importantly to make you laugh. That was my mission.

Girl: *sarcastically* That’s rather gallant of you.

Boy: I wouldn’t say that to be honest but it’s something I’ve always believed in. Making people happier than they were before I met them. I saw you sitting there with God knows what on your mind and I just had to try and make you laugh. You did, hence mission accomplished! *flashes her a toothy grin*

Girl: Maybe you aren’t so hopeless after all. I guess I should say thank you?

Boy: No need. But so as not to be impolite, you’re welcome… in actual fact I should be the one to thank you!

Girl: *quizzical look* Now why is that?

Boy: I don’t always accomplish my mission. Some people just won’t have a stranger chat with them no matter their intent.

Girl: Maybe it’s because we mustn’t talk to strangers?

Boy: Who’s being cliché now? *pointed look, gentle smile*

Girl: *smiles back* Touché.

Boy: You want to hear something astounding?

Girl: Surprise me.

Boy: You’ve done a great job cheering me up by talking to me. I really appreciate it. Thank you. *rises*

Girl: Wait… you’re joking right? Really? You looked you’re doing the same thing as before.

Boy: Ah yes but this time I’m leaving you with a smile on your face. Have a good night…?

Girl: *raises eyebrow* I’m guessing I’m supposed to fill in my name? *laughs*

Boy: I guess I’ll call you Aida.

Girl: What an odd name… why Aida?

Boy: It means happy and judging by the look on your face it’s accurate and it suits you… It’s been a pleasure meeting you Aida.

Girl: Hmmm. At least I’ve learned something new today. May I ask? What’s your name?

Boy: Call me Joe.

Girl: Joe… you’re not so regular are you?

Joe: I’d like to think so. Thanks. Hopefully I’ll see you around, Aida?

Girl: Vanessa… It’s Vanessa. And yes. I hope I’ll see you around too.

The End