Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wild Things

Every times I watch the trailer for the forthcoming Where the Wild Things Are movie, I get chills. And watching the just-released featurette gives them to me, too. I get a little welled up. I think this is because the movie (from these two brief looks at it) seems as though it will capture the deepest heart of the book: the uncertainties, the desire to let our inner selves--our Wild Things--out, and to find the place where that Wild Thing belongs.

My favorite part of the featurette? That Maurice Sendak told Spike Jonze that the movie should be dangerous, because kids deserve it--they can't be talked down to.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Head in the Clouds

I’ve seen a lot of my more tech-minded friends talk of “cloud computing” recently, which is something I have only the vaguest understanding of. But that's okay, because I have my own idea of what the “cloud” is. To me, it’s the invisible something that writers can draw from.

In one of my (long ago) college critical theory classes, we talked about the idea of all authors having an antenna that is always on, always picking up signals from the wider world. This has always stuck with me. Authors have finely tuned observational powers, which always astonish me, and sometimes they are able to observe more than what they can see/hear/smell/taste/touch. Sometimes their observations stretch into that cloud. That’s how some elements and themes can end up in a work even when the author may not consciously intend it. And how there are certain themes that a number of different authors end up writing about at the same time. The most noticed recent example is probably the Kristin Cashore and Suzanne Collins books. Graceling and The Hunger Games both had characters with similar names (Katsa and Katniss), who had to confront killing other characters in the course of their stories. And now, the companion/sequel to each has the word “fire” in it. It’s odd coincidences like these that make me believe in the cloud. I see it often in submissions, too. It’s always interesting to get a number of submissions from different kinds of writers, who are all in different parts of the countries and writing about different characters and plots, that somehow have intersecting elements.

To me, that’s the magical part of writing. Somewhere out there, invisible to the rest of us, all of these stories exist, all of these ideas, emotions, and people whom we readers need to help us make sense of the world, of life, even when we might not know exactly what we needed. And authors are tapping into that cloud, giving those stories to us, maybe sometimes without even being aware of it themselves. It’s a pretty amazing gift, if you ask me.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Oh, What a World

Ever since my morning in the Magic Kingdom last month, I've been thinking a lot about world-building. Walking around by myself made the experience very much one of observing, rather than goofing around, as I expect would have happened had I been with a group of friends.

Part of me--my inner child--was delighted by the whole place. The way every last detail has been planned out, that you never see a "mistake" or false move--it's so complete. That's so impressive, and it's such a total experience.

And yet...

Maybe it's because I'm a grown-up, maybe it's because I've lived in NYC for nearly eight years now, but the other part of me was wondering things like, "But where's all the trash?" "How do they stay so perky all the time?" "What happens behind the Cast Member Only doors?"

The last is the most intriguing. Because I bet that's where the real story is. Where the "cast members" gripe and complain and trade funny stories and, well, live. Everything else is a facade. An expertly detailed one, but one that only stands because of all the inner workings, and what happens behind the closed doors.