I am a huge consumer of media. It’s my favorite. I guess some form of media is everyone’s favorite, so that’s not a very interesting thing to say. But I will continue to elaborate on this as if it is a unique position to take. Just because I think the way and the reason I consume media informs how I pursue scholarship and creative writing.
I’m not remotely a visual artist, but I’ve always had a thing for collage. That probably speaks even more to my love for all kinds of media, since I love to read magazines and cut out phrases and pictures and use them out of context. In my head, my collages are a lot better than they turn out to be in real life, but regardless, I think de-contextualizing and re-contextualizing images and ideas can be really interesting.
My consumption of written media can probably summed up in a similar way. I view it as a web or a collage, where I glean ideas, moments, images, themes, and statements from various books, movies, essays, and songs and find inspiration or meaning. In terms of my academic interests, this usually means using older, seminal works and trying to apply them to newer ones, or applying theoretical concepts to genres that don’t usually use them. In terms of my creative interests, this usually means compiling some kind of dossier of things I find interesting that make me want to explore a theme in a novel or short story. (Thanks to Scrivener, I can now keep that list of interviews, images, current events, and media in the same document as the actual project, which is awesome.) I suppose that seems a little premature and immature, given that the last novel I completed was in 2000 (I just opened the document; it’s 20686 words long, which is just under the word count of the “novel” I am working on now), but that’s how I work. I get incredibly ahead of myself and come up with way too many ideas. In my defense, I think they are mostly worthwhile ideas, rather than the “book ideas” I came up with when I was in middle school, when I could easily come up with 10 a day, most of which had probably already been written. Also, I’m just ensuring that I’ll always have something to say. Also, if it’s true what they say, the first book is the biggest hurdle, and it gets easier after that. So hopefully I’ll finish this novel before 2012, and after that I’ll be able to be much more productive with my other ones.
Anyway. I like to gather interesting things together, and usually they start me on the road towards a set of characters, a plot, and/or a theme. For example, I think I might have an essay in the works using Libba Bray’s new novel, Beauty Queens, the argumentation paper on beauty pageants that I wrote my sophomore year of high school, and the latest issue of Lilith, which deals with “fashioning feminist identity.” I’m looking for a poem to go with it as well. There is a novel I want to do after I finish the one I’m still writing, and among many other things, it’s inspired by Ted Hughes’ Birthday Letters, the death of Heath Ledger, and Sophie Dahl’s Playing With the Grown-ups. I love that I can say that and probably still give no idea what that story is. The thing that’s cool about de-contextualizing media is that it seems so obvious and directly inspired, but really it’s probably very original–at least original given that nothing is really original. Media collage is awesome.