Friday, April 12, 2013

Brain Projects and a Dozen Half-Baked Ideas

By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA


The goal: get my brain back into creative shape.

The creative muscles atrophied after taking an extended hiatus and a couple of epic benders in San Francisco. I had no idea how to shake off the rust and get back into writing shape aside from jumping in head first and writing as much as I could. I also had no idea how long it would take for me to get back into a groove because I had never take more than a few weeks off before, and even then I was still working in some capacity. In the previous seven years I fell into a bad habit of not focusing on creative side projects when work and life got in the way.

When 2013 rolled around, I was ready. Eager. Willing. Hungry. I felt the fire once again for the first time in years and I was ready to jump back to work. I had a few problems... 1) I had too much I wanted to do, 2) I had limited time to do it, and 3) I had no idea how I would be able to pull everything off because I was rusty.

I knew patience was the key and it could take a while to get back into shape, so in the meantime, I set set up a diverse and short-term creative regimen. I came up with the idea to do something different every month to avoid boredom but more importantly, each project would require a different time commitment, so I could cater each month's project to fit within my work/travel schedule. For the months I was super busy, I could work on a project that required less time and didn't screw myself by committing to something I had no time to do.

I figured these monthly mini-projects could be a fun way to jump-start the brain and dabble in diverse endeavors that would build creative confidence and strength, because nothing is more dangerous than not believing in yourself. I've seen too many of my peers drown themselves in their own self-doubt, and I was not about to join them.

These monthly mini-projects give me the rare opportunity to explore a new medium (not just writing or blogging, but painting, photography, and videos). This not about making good art, rather it's about taking chances and making bad art. It's all about not being afraid to create something from nothing not matter what the results. Along the way I expected to finally find my writing groove and get back on path, but in the meantime, I wanted to have fun and do some random, yet cool stuff while massaging the creative parts of my mind that had been dormant.

The first of these monthly projects actually kicked off in late 2012 when I decided to write about sportsbetting for 30 days in a row. I used Tumblr as the medium for that project (jokingly titled Ocelot Sports) and it eventually spawned a new blog and website (and eventually a podcast).

In January upon my return from NYC for the holidays, I re-dedicated myself to every day blogging and revamped Tao of Pauly with posts 5 days a week. Luckily, that project's intent spilled over in February and I haven't stopped.

In February, I started a dream journal, but that was an abysmal failure due to chronic insomnia and I had only a couple of entries. I still continued a futile attempt at a dream journal knowing that I'm lucky if I can get down one detailed dream every ten days or so.

In March, the project shifted to painting and I intended to crank out a new painting every week, but I fell short of the mark and got three done but never started the fourth because I was behind in other projects. The good news is that I have a few blank canvases left over which will get filled up eventually.

In April, it was my "five second story pitch" project. I started jotting down brief ideas for really bad one-act plays or screenplays.... just one simple idea per day... in the hopes that at the end of the month I would have 30 half-baked ideas.

Eventually, for May's project, I would like it to be a continuation of April's project. I will pick four or five of the best ideas from April and try to develop them into short stories.  I'll force myself to write one short story a week based on the best of those 30 half-baked story ideas.

Here is a glimpse into this month's project and the first dozen half-baked ideas...

Story Ideas [April 2013]
1. Grandmother gets typical cataract surgery but comes out with the ability to see the ghosts of her dead husband and sister.

2. Dope sick junkie horn player recording an album in Tokyo desperately tries to score smack in Shibuya, but ends up crossing a pimp from the Yakuza.

3. Salesman has impulsive habit to tear out random pages out of the Holy Bible in every hotel room he stays in, but he doesn't throw away the pages, yet collects them in a box that he keeps in his garage.

4. Shitting diamonds. Small-time diamond smuggler swallows gems for cash.

5. Spending an entire summer with the subjects from the Manet's paintings that currently hangs in the Manet room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. All of the subjects (like the Spanish singer, The Woman with the Parrot, and the boat captain, etc.) know each other and they all hate Manet for one reason or another. They all talk shit about him while they hang out at the same Parisian cafe in the 1880s.

6. Two words: ghost cats. Widowed woman from Portland feeds the neighborhood cats that aren't actually there. Her neighbors think she's crazy but she's the primary caregiver to hundreds of ghost cats.

7. A pair of childhood friends reunite after twenty years while attending the funeral of one of their classmates, who slipped off the subway platform and fell in front of a 6  train. After some amateur sleuthing, they find out he was a biologist working on a miracle cure for the common cold and he was murdered by a hitman working for Big Pharma.

8. Army psychiatrist must evaluate soldiers returning to Earth after finishing their tours on Venus defending various mining outposts in the Great Desert.

9.  Autistic homeless person is a chess wizard and hustles tourists in games in front of the Eiffel Tower.

10. Alcoholic washed-up ex-pro is a caddy for his son, who is a professional golfer contending for the Masters, but the caddy is back on the wagon and has to avoid his son's Evangelical wife.

11. The newly hired manager of Quentin Red has a tough first day on the job when he has to fire the psychotic bass player who threatens to commit suicide after locking himself in the bathroom of the tour bus.

12. This takes place the day after the classic race between the turtle and the hare, when the hares discover out the winning turtle was illegally using speed and other performance enhancing drugs, thereby tainting the race.

I told ya some of those ideas were horrible. But I have 18 more days to come up with four or five potential story ideas.

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