What Can Inspire
Posted May 15, 2015on:
Kid TV is for adults
I wasn’t planning on this topic for a blog post this morning. Actually, I was going to continue along the theme I’d started for my ROW80 Check-in and try writing a piece of flash fiction about a cat and his/her human. After all, cats do make up a good portion of the internet… and my personal life.
But, I tried something different today… mostly because I wasn’t finding the words. I needed help, and I didn’t want to spend too long finding it. So I hopped over to the One Minute Writer site for a kick in the writer butt.
But the prompt today had nothing to do with cats….
It’s okay though, because Approval Cat said if I could come up with an idea about Kids TV during a one minute writing session, then I should write a post about that instead of cats. Approval Cat is so very understanding… especially after some catnip and sardines.
So I’m going to write about inspiration, and how some of the silliest things can trigger one’s imagination and drive her to create stories and art. I’m going to write about an 80’s cartoon.
Back in high school, I wasn’t the best student. Bored often, distracted always… I gave my teachers (and parents) no end of despair when homework was involved. I liked to draw, but had stopped doing that for a few years because my father had thrown all my work away in a (failed) attempt to get me to focus on schoolwork and not obsess over horses and fantasy worlds.
I firmly believed I couldn’t write. My grades in English were abysmal, and my best friend seemed to know everything about the subject, could write perfect sentences, spell perfectly, etc., so that felt like her thing, not mine. And because I had been above-middling in arithmetic all through school without any effort, I listened when people said I should do that instead.
…fade out to middle school and earlier…
Thing was, I’d always created stories. In the early days, I had created nations with my horse models and Barbies, scribbled little notes and plot lines of an Arabian princess (quite literally an Arabian) named Anocka-Jenay and a helpful rapscallion named Coca-nora helped the queen of the humans find a way to make peace with the equine people against the dangers of… well, all sorts of kid fears, but usually the “bad” humans.
When my horses were taken away, for a time I still tried to make those stories, but my confidence had never been that high, and I didn’t have the same connection to a lot of other ‘kid things”. Most of my childhood entertainment had been dismissed by my parents as too juvenile; most of my age peers didn’t talk about Jacques Cousteau, Walter Kronkite, and Quincy M.E. with the same passion I did (if at all).
… fade back in to high school…
There was Star Trek… I liked it, a lot. Like a lot of girls (born a decade before me), I thought Walter Koenig was incredibly cute as Chekov, and I did have a short phase of idolizing Spock, though mostly it was a fondness for Leonard Nimoy himself, since In Search Of was also one of my favorite shows, and the “Spock makeup job” made my skin itch.
But for me, Star Trek wasn’t unique. My parents were avid sci-fi and fantasy readers and watchers, and every weekend there was something genre on the television, either the original Battlestar Galactica, Lost In Space, Buck Rogers, and so many others. I used to fall asleep listening to Rod Serling’s silken voice drifting up through the floor because it was on so late in syndication.
So, when Shan Jeniah encouraged me (or I encouraged her… or it was mutual encouragement, I forget now) to start creating a fictional world based on Star Trek because she’d fallen in love with it… I definitely didn’t refuse. I did love the show, and I definitely needed an outlet for some of that creative (and often very silly) energy I’d been building up.
But while I enjoyed the show and the writing, I didn’t love it. And I hadn’t really found something that connected quite right.
Then, one morning while getting ready for school (I often watched cartoons in the morning while eating breakfast), I passed an odd show… a bit Star Wars-like, a bit corny (okay, a bit more than a bit), with better than average art and cool music. And, without even knowing why… I was hooked. I saw so much potential in these characters for more. Questions like: why did Gillian have a domed garden before the Monster Minds came; what sort of magic was he using in such a technologically advanced world, flying fish(!), space ships that looked like ancient sailing vessels… what kind of name for a powerfully intelligent plant creature was “Saw Boss” anyway?!
And.. it didn’t hurt that one of the first real episodes of the show was this one: Final Ride at Journey’s End. It wowed me. In the 80’s, it seemed pretty much impossible to find a cartoon that pushed boundaries the way this episode did, leaving viewers wondering if one of the heroes (or somewhat anti-hero) of the story might have died in a suicidal assault on the enemy.
Okay, so it wasn’t that unusual. But at the time, even my cartoon experience had been severely limited, and though I loved what I’d seen of Robotech, I hadn’t yet seen a whole episode of it, and so didn’t know how dramatic a cartoon could be. I liked knowing there wasn’t an answer… answers were offered everywhere in kid’s shows, reassurances like the constant parachutes in G.I. Joe (not that I ever watched that show) or the friendly (read: annoying) commentary of 7-Zark-7 in G-Force that filled in the blank spaces with comforting words about how a town was going to be rebuilt soon or so-and-so was recovering in the hospital and doing well.
As if children needed constant protection against the truths of the world without a huge sugar-coating…
I liked the ambiguity that Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors left me with. I could work with that ambiguity, and I did. I created worlds upon worlds based on that ambiguity.
While most of my fiction has moved far away from its roots in Star Trek and JatWW fanfiction (most, not all… the Was Long Variation and The Dots get regular doses of word love), this show in particular sparked a passion in me that has lasted to this day. And I don’t see it fading soon.
So, thank you, One Minute Writer, for giving me a chance to speak about an inspiration. And… thank you too, Approval Cat, for letting me write about something non-feline. And thank you most of all, DIC Audiovisuel, for producing this great show.