Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dreams and Inspiration

This morning I had an amazing moment. It's something that happens in my creative process that I've never wrote about before in detail, but I think I should.

I've started writing the script of Becoming Lena, the next manga I will be making after Wings is all over. Since the story is based on an old novel that I wrote, plot and character is no problem since I already have all of that. The problem is the story's core. What is this story really about? It could be simply a fluffy story about a young woman who discovers who she is, but I kept feeling like that there was more to the story than simply that. There was something under the surface that I was missing.

Jump to yesterday. Last night I was feeling a little out of it and inferior after a day that crushed my brain with information overload. Some days I feel like I have no skin to protect me from all the sensations that I feel--everything just hits me and I feel totally overwhelmed. So last night I put on some music to boost my mood.

Specifically it was I Wish by Cher Lloyd and T.I.  It's an upbeat song about a girl who wishes that she had a different style so she could please this boy that she has a crush on. It's a typical pop/hip-hop song with a rap interlude. The singer's voice is high and light...naive but still sincere and brutally honest at some moments.

I went to bed last night with that song stuck in my head. And early this morning, when I was just starting to realize that I could be awake, it happened.

 What I needed to know about my next manga unfolded in a dynamic dream.

Allena, the main character of my manga, was standing in a windy field. The tall grass danced all the way to where the trees from the woods framed the field's edges. She stood there with her friend Deena, who had recently talked her into being the lead singer for a band she was putting together.

Allena was out there in nature, but everything about her was unnatural. She wore a long red wig that was totally windswept. She held down the skirt of a black, intricately sewn lolita style dress that she wouldn't normally wear with her gloved hands. Her face was heavy with make-up and false eyelashes.

She was standing in this field, fully dressed for the stage.

Her friend Deena on the other hand is casual in jeans and a t-shirt. She was the one who drove Allena out here.

Deena, keeping her eyes forward over the field says to Allena, "Go ahead and let it out."

Allena looks at her with a raised eyebrow, not understanding.

"Let what out?"

"You have a lot of things weighing on you," says Deena. "I brought you out here so that you can shout it to the trees."  Then she puts a hand on Allena's shoulder and looks at her squarely, "Your emotional insecurities are holding you back. It'll be best if you acknowledge them all right here, right now."

Allena feels the blood rush to her cheeks. "No way! Especially not in front of you!"

"I won't be here," says Deena. "I'll be at the car."

She trudges back through the tall grass. Allena watches her until she disappears into the woods. Now Allena is by herself. Only the wind, the trees, and shimmering grass can hear her now.

"This is ridiculous," she says out loud. To herself. 

"I'm suppose to just stand here and blurt out what I feel like I'm in The Sound of Music or something?"

She tucks a free flying strand of red hair behind her ear to keep it from slapping her in the face as she stands there with the words teetering on the edge of her lips. The words are painful. Deena is right. They need to come out.

"No one thinks about me," she spits out into the breeze. "Everyone walks by me like  I'm not here. My boss walks over me. Life walks over me!"

She shouts, "Is it my fault?! Is it my fault that things are like this? Hector--we grew up together. I've always loved him! But why doesn't he see me when I've ALWAYS been there? Why do I always have to hide what I feel--my disappointment in him and my disappointment in myself!"

In the wind I hear it. That song that I heard last night. Except it's stripped of the main lyrics. It's only the music and the background vocal track. Allena isn't singing, but her voice sounds like the singer's--light and naive.

Hector is dating Allena's boss, who just happens to be a very sophisticated woman. A bit of Allena wishes she could be like that. She wishes that she could take command of her life like that.

Her verbally throwing off all of this baggage is a performance of it's own.
After she airs out the last of her frustration, and the country surroundings fall silent, Allena hears someone say from behind,

"Let's go."

It's Deena. Allena feels a deep shudder of embarrassment.

"Did you hear...?"

Deena nodded. "Sorry, I lied to you. But what you did out here is what you will be doing on stage for an audience every time you sing. No emotions are private anymore."

At that moment, I realized that I just found a very important piece of the story. By learning how to sincerely face her problems, Allena will grow as a person, and she will stop wishing for the life of someone else, but will learn to accept her own. And once she does, that sensation she has of being invisible will go away.

Now that the story feels whole, I can start working on it with a clear emotional direction. I just wasn't expecting all of it to come together like that. It's like, whoa.

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