There’s more to a writer than the words they share with the world. Like anyone, a writer is a three-dimensional person. We’re capable of complex thoughts and interests. We don’t sit at a computer with tea or coffee all day. Sometimes, we got out into the world and do things that don’t involve the words “plot” or “character”. With this post, I want to talk about not only the things I enjoy but the things that inspire me or have inspired me. The things not connected to writing but end up circling back to it, for me at least. There are things on this that made a bad day better and shaped me into the person I am. This post is a love letter and a thank you note.
The Things I Watch
I’m not too big on watching TV or movies these days. But this year, the year of 2020, I have a lot more free time than usual. I don’t avoid mass media, but I find it can be too distracting if I’m trying to get something important done. I don’t waste my time watching television. When I sit down to watch something, I watch it because I am intrigued by it.
Let’s take Avatar The Last Airbender, for example. Yes, it was a show that aired when I was very young, and I watched the reruns when I was a teenager. But I return to this show over and over because of its absolute brilliance. To me, Avatar The Last Airbender is a moving masterpiece of timeless quality. Within the narrative of the show, we get a character arc so amazing that it left me breathless. We get world-building that’s well thought out and immersive. There’s power and then there’s the power of watching Avatar The Last Airbender. To me, Avatar The Last Airbender is also an example of what it means to tell a deep thought out story. Avatar The Last Airbender is what storytelling should be: entertaining and filled with little moments that leave you enthralled.
(And in Ba Sing Se there is no live-action movie.)
Another show I watch, and love, is Young Justice when it was canceled in 2013, it devastated me. I was part of a large group of people that tweeted out #YoungJusticeSeason4. When the show returned (in 2019), I couldn’t have been happier. The show is about the adventures of the sidekicks within the DC universe. There are a few familiars face- Kid Flash and Robin, the sidekicks of Batman and Flash. Then there’s a few created for the show and later written into comic continuity. And you see the heroes they serve; you gain an understanding about what it’s like to live in the shadows of your predecessors. Not only that, you see yourself in them; you relate to their struggles. Even if they’re based on the extravagant lives of fictional superheroes. Young Justice is where my obsession with superheroes and their stories began. Because of Young Justice, I started wanting to read works that included superheroes. I wanted stories with men of steel and dark crusaders. Young Justice is what got me into reading comic books.
The Things I Listen To
For music, my taste is influenced by my moods and the artists I love. I’ve come to realize that the music I listen to is music I listened to back in high school or even middle school. Music is timeless.
To start, the artist whose music I follow the most is Taylor Swift. I found her on the tail end of the Speak Now era, when I heard Love Story on the radio as a ten-year-old. I went home and found out who that song belonged to. Then I listened to her music for as long as I can remember. In middle school, when I was being bullied, her music was there for me. When I felt like an outcast in high school, her music was there for me. And when I became a college student, her music was there. Taylor Swift is a master songwriter and a genius at telling stories. When I have writer’s block, sometimes I’ll pop in her music and listen to it. She surprised dropped an album called folklore recently and it’s all I can listen to these days. It is a wonderful record and all I want to do is lay in bed and listen to it on repeat for hours. Folklore, for me, makes living in 2020 easier. It makes the chaos and noise quiet and eases the voice in my head saying, “it will only get worst.” If Taylor Swift can make an album in four months during one of the most stressful years, the world will be okay.
Speaking of a powerful female artist, Halsey is an artist I discovered by pure accident, and I am so happy that I did. One day, in my senior year of high school, I was listening to music on YouTube. A video called “Closer” appeared in my recommended feed. Not paying attention, I let the video auto-play. And in the middle of a conversation with a friend I said, “wait, whose this?” The who is a powerhouse artist whose passionate about not only her music but issues that matter to her. And her music hits me in a way that no other has. Nightmare came out in 2019 and all I wanted to do was pump my fist and yell at white men in their mid-thirties who think women are delicate objects. Hopeless fountain kingdom is a book from the first track to the last. Its melodies and rifts make the experience worth having. And badlands, the album I discovered her through, is a top five for me. You don’t sleep on Halsey’s music, you live it. And I’m so happy I do.
Here’s a fun fact: when it comes to writing female characters, I think of these two. How they coordinate beats and drops and create books as musical albums. I think of their determination and constant will to move forward that’s kept them in the mainstream. When presented with a challenge, neither of them bows down. Maybe they stumble and they fall, but they get back up. And in that, there is a strength that I draw from as a writer.
In fact, when it comes to writing, too often I compare my WIP to works already published. This is both a blessing and a curse because while it can inspire my story, it can also cause me to doubt what I write. But I can’t imagine a world where these don’t exiss and I will always be thankful for that.