How Do I Love Thee: A Synthesis in Three Parts

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Use fanworks to promote creative and social development while utilising the seven tools of creativity! http://j.mp/18nRu35

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In 1999, when I was fourteen, I was introduced to something called online fanfictions, which was discovered when I was surfing for webpages on animes, a newfound hobby my friends introduced to me. In one particular anime, Slayers, I discovered that I preferred the alternative pairing of Lina and Zelgadiss as opposed to Lina and Gourry, and I wasn’t the only one who thought that way. Thanks to the interwebs, I found other fans who supported that pairing, and I started to read and write fanfictions featuring that pairing. This was my first foray into the world of online fanworks, a hobby that forever changed my life to where it affected my creative and social development.

Some people may not consider fanworks to be “creative” since they are all based on media that already exist, so basically fanworks are reproduction created by fans. So some may argue that fanworks doesn’t promote creativity due to its “copying nature”, but I say it does. In fact, I want to promote fanworks as a tool to enhance creative and social development in adolescents (and even with people of all ages). It is commonly known that when children mature into teenagers, their cognitive thinking matures, they are able to think abstractly, and they began to see that the world is not simply black and white. They start thinking out of the box, and fanworks will allow them to do all that and more.

Fanworks opened a lot of new doors for me. I was introduced to a lot of writings by fellow fans — some of poor quality and some of excellent quality to where my mind would be blown away by the creator’s creativity. This exposure encouraged me to write my own fanfictions, and I also began to learn how to make and code webpages and teach myself to use graphic design programmes like PhotoShop. These activities allowed me to also communicate with other fans online where distance was a thing of the past. It was quite normal for me to have online friends in New York to Argentina to Germany to Australia, and we’d all squeal about the fandom that has brought us together. For me, Harry Potter fandom was the most influential. It was the fandom where I wrote a lot of fanfictions, participated in various online events like a writing festival (also known as “fests”), ran my own fests, helped others with their own writings by being “beta readers” (as in “proofreaders”), and befriended many like-minded fans who were there for me through my life challenges in the form of work and school. Fanworks taught me to be net savvy, to know how to be social online in ways that were very rewarding.

The world of Harry Potter allowed me to be creative through many approaches. When I think about the seven tools of creativity and how they apply to the world of fanworks, it all comes together in the end. Through CEP 818, I was given the chance to see how I could break down fanworks through these seven tools, and for the past several weeks, I’ve come to these conclusions.

Perceiving
Perceiving is the ability to use our five senses to “study” an idea or a concept that can be re-imaged or re-changed through our individual perspective. Creators who make their own fanworks are already doing that. They are taking something that already exists and are re-making and re-interpreting it into something of their own. For example, I believe that Luna Lovegood is a much better love interest for Harry Potter, but J.K. Rowling paired Harry up with Ginny Weasley. Being sorely unhappy about that outcome, I wrote fanfics that paired Luna and Harry together because in my mind, I perceived that these two are better suited for each other. That was what I came to believe in my interpretation of the original work, and that belief stimulated me to feature that pairing in my own fanworks.

Patterning and Abstracting
Patterning and abstracting are two tools that interrelate with each other — at least they do for me. When it comes to fanworks, tropes and clichés appear in works fans love. Whether it’s a movie or a book or a video game, they all have familiar tropes and clichés like the typical wise, old mentor such as Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings or Albus Dumbledore from Harry Potter. Recognising these tropes help fans better understand the work, and understanding it allows abstracting to occur. Abstracting, for me, is to find the “essence” of the work, and once we find the essence in a particular movie or book or game, it will help us discern the “patterns” in the works in the forms of tropes and clichés. And from there we can create our own fanworks by deconstructing the original tropes and clichés and then change and re-pattern them into something different and familiar at the same time.

Embodied Thinking, Modelling, and Playing
Like patterning and abstracting, these tools also interrelate with one another. Fanworks in itself is a form of play. For many of us, fanworks are meant to be fun, a way for us to escape reality. As us fans imagine about alternate scenarios in fanworks, we can then model some of these concepts (through mediums like cosplaying), and modelling then allows us to use embodied thinking — meaning, as we model (cosplay), we combine our physical and emotional senses to bring abstract concepts to be more concrete. An example would be when I wore my Harry Potter costume on Halloween, a fun activity that allowed me to sense and feel to be a magical person, all the while wearing a robe and holding a wand. That experience is something that can then be translated into the fanwork I create, and by doing all that, I am having a terrific time.

Synthesising
Once we understand the six tools, we can then combine all of them into the final tool of creativity — synthesising. With fanworks, the finished product has gone through a synthesis. From the very first moment a creator perceive a particular work to finding the pattern and then abstracting them through embodied thinking, modelling, and playing — the finished story, art, costume, video, music, or any other medium of their choice are the synthesised product. Creativity itself is a complex journey, and thus a completed fanwork also goes on a long, fulfilling passage.

Breaking down fanworks through these seven tools of creativity has allowed me to see fanworks in a different light. Prior to doing these assignments, I’ve always been a proponent of fanworks as a way to encourage young people to be creative, but now I’ve come to appreciate fanworks even more after deconstructing them and applying the seven tools to further understand the concept.

Creativity is said to be trans-disciplinary in nature, where understanding arts, sciences, and maths is crucial to encouraging a well-rounded creative mindset. Fanworks itself is also well-rounded, too. Think about how many fanworks activity are done online. In order to participate in online fandoms, we’d have to be technologically savvy with computers and Internet, or at the least know how to use them to do minimal tasks. If we want to write fanfics, then we’d have to learn how to write and understand grammar and other literary devices to deliver a good piece of work. Same thing with fanarts, fanmixes, fanvideos, and cosplaying — one would have to learn the skills of drawing, song writing, video making, or sewing to create in these forms.

Creators are not just limited to being in a single medium. Many fans do multiple mediums of their choice. Some may write fanfics and also draw fanarts, and others may do cosplaying and video making. Like myself, I primarily write fanfics because writing is something I do best. I cannot draw at all, but I enjoy graphic manipulation through PhotoShop, so I can also create icons and other graphics in the fandom of my choice, and I use that skills to create graphics for my webpages that can then be a showcase of my fanworks.

Fanworks encompass many other positive attributes that contributes to one’s creative development. Online fanworks promote global and cultural exchanges. I mentioned before that I made friends all over the world, and I thank fanworks for that. My interest in animes, mangas, and video games influenced me to love Japanese culture and language, and same thing with me liking Harry Potter, which led me to adore British culture. These exposure has allowed me to experience diversity, and whatever I learn about food, the language, the culture — I can then share them in my own fanworks. Even my own location (that being Seoul, South Korea), my own experience of living in a different culture can be brought over into fanfics that takes place in South Korea, and by doing that, I share Korean life and culture with other fans who read my work.

Sharing what I know through fanworks and consuming through fanworks have been an enriching experience for me since 1999. I have seen this in many fans online, and all of these can also be done offline, too, amongst friends who share fanworks and create fanworks together in a face-to-face environment. Understandably, fanworks will not be for everyone, but it still can be something we can allow people to try. And if they do like it, then why prohibit them from expanding their creativity? Let them explore the endless boundaries of creativity. Let them discover the infinite possibilities of what fanworks and technology can offer as they use the seven tools of creativity in their own ways. And let them break down physical barriers such as distance as they “meet” fans from all over the world and become worldly in their own self-development. And lastly, fanworks is great for people of all ages. Whether they are twelve or forty, anybody can create their own works if they want!

Playing Reflection

Word Cloud

In my previous post, I blogged about how I’d introduce the concept of fanworks/fanfictions by using an online drabble generator because it would be a fun way to “play” with this concept, since playing with creativity allows room for expansive thoughts that may not occur when we’re “serious” about it. In other words, sometimes creative ideas only come to us when we’re least expecting it, and when we’re having fun playing with something, it allows our brain to “take a break” and think on something else. That is why I figured that the drabble generator would be a playful way to introduce fanfics to people who are not familiar with it, rather than do it lecture-style. Another reason I chose the drabble generator was to not daunt or overwhelm newcomers to fanworks. A 100-500 words drabble will be more doable than telling someone to write a story that’s 5,000 words long! Granted the generator writes one for the user, but the results are ridiculously humorous to the point where it is bound to leave some sort of a memorable impact on a person.

In actuality, creating and consuming fanworks are essentially playing. Many of us fans create and consume because we want to have fun, and to many of us, fanworks are our “playthings”. We take established characters and universe, and manipulate them into our own creative works, and then we share our finished products with other fans because we want to share our interpretations, our vision of the fandom we all play in together. It’s not different from a group of children playing with Legos, builds something, and then share it with each other.

I think fanworks are another way to get those who are not interested in reading, writing, and drawing to get them interested in it. I use myself as an example. I’m an avid reader, but I do not enjoy reading the classics like Wuthering Heights or A Tales of Two Cities. However, fanfictions are something I can read for fun, and I enjoy reading the ones that are beautifully written. Because I started reading fanfictions, that encouraged me to write my own. Prior to that, I did have an interest in writing, but that urge to write didn’t grow until I started reading fanfictions. Therefore, if I knew someone who saw reading and writing as a chore, I’d introduce them to fanfictions, or to fanarts and cosplaying if they are into drawing and sewing. The way I see it is that if they can have the option of creating something with their favourite characters from their favourite medium, then why not let them? After all, it is meant to be fun.

Fun and quick, that’s what drabbles are for. Fans write drabbles because it’s meant to be quick, and it is also a challenge to some to see if they can write in a concise way that presents just as much emotion in a longer piece of work. That’s why, I view drabbles as a good way to introduce fanfictions. Whether it’s in an English class or through a writing workshop, I see it as a good ice-breaking activity that allows us to play and have fun.

Playing with Fanfiction

TypewriterIf I were to introduce the concept of fanworks, more specifically the concept of fanfics, in a playful way, I’d start off with this online drabble generator. A drabble is fanfics that are usually no more than 100-words long, but some people may up the maximum word count to 500-1000. This drabble generator allows someone to input characters of their choices along with the adjectives, adverbs, nouns, verbs, and other elements. Once that’s all done, just like mad libs, the user’s word choices are then assembled into a drabble. After the drabble’s generated, each of us would share our drabble out loud and laugh at the results. Here is one I did for fun:

Draco and Neville
by William Shakespeare

Enter Draco

Neville appears above at a window

Draco:
But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the computer, and Neville is the dog.
Arise, bright dog, and hug the shiny watch.
See, how he leans his shoulder upon his hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that shoulder!

Neville:
O Draco, Draco! wherefore art thou Draco?
What’s in a name? That which we call an arm
By any other name would smell as happy
Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say “like a lullaby that lulls you to an eternal slumber.”
And I will take thy word; yet if thou swear’st,
Thou mayst prove handsome.

Draco:
Swain, by yonder shiny watch I swear
That tips on a table the small chocolate–

Neville:
O, swear not by the watch, the large watch,
That eagerly changes in its strong orb,
Lest that thy love prove likewise strong.
Sweet, expensive night! A thousand times expensive night!
Parting is such intelligent sorrow,
That I shall say expensive night till it be morrow.

Exit above

Draco:
Sleep dwell upon thy shoulder, peace in thy hand!
Would I were sleep and peace, so quickly to rest!
sleepily will I to my bright arm’s cell,
Its help to hug, and my happy arm to tell.

I admit, when I got this, I burst out laughing because this generated drabble is now a spoof on Romeo and Juliet, with two guys from Harry Potter, mixed in with words Shakespeare himself would not have used. Doing this activity with someone who wasn’t familiar with fanworks or fanfictions would be a fun and unique way to introduce them to these concepts.

Modelling and Dimensional Thinking Reflection

CosplayIn my previous post, I introduced the concept of cosplaying as a way to incorporate modelling and dimensional thinking, which is to bring 3-D thinking and action in a creative medium. Cosplaying falls under the fanworks genre in a way that brings an old adage to mind: imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Fans who are fans of a certain character, pay homage to them by becoming them. They take a 2-D or 3-D character and bring him/her/it to life.

Ergo, cosplay is a way to model and bring dimensional thinking together. When cosplayers make or put their costumes together, they study the character’s outfit and design. They look at every known drawings and photographs of their characters, and they note the most minute details of the outfit such as the colour, the doodads like buttons and buckles, the materials, the pattern — all of these are important to the cosplayers because they want their outfits to be just right. Even hair becomes important. Many characters from animes, mangas, or video games sport unusual hair colour and/or style. Some cosplayers dye their hair, but many hunt down a wig they can model after their character. Once their costumes put together, cosplayers then act like their characters. They meet at conventions to cosplay with other fans, or they come together to do their own rendition of what they are cosplaying. In fact, see how fans decided to cosplay and re-enact this Alvin and the Chipmunks video scene! As someone who’ve seen the original film, I have to say that this real-life rendition is brilliant!

Now, in my own Hogwarts Student cosplay, I didn’t go into that much details like some cosplayers do. I just had to gather five items to complete my costume. But once I got in my costume, I felt like I had become a Hogwarts Student. My experience led me to see how it feels to wear a robe, to see how a wand feel in my hand as I pretended to cast spells, and wearing a scarf and tie at the same time made me feel claustrophobic, and I wondered how anybody could stand that. As brief as this cosplaying was (I only wore it for that Halloween since I cannot find that robe anymore!!!), it has allowed me to experience what a typical Hogwarts Student may experience, and I was able to translate that experience when I am writing Harry Potter fanfics. After all, I write what I know, and if I’ve lived through something, then it’s easier to write them out!

Therefore, modelling and dimensional thinking are two cognitive tools that should be encouraged in everyone. Even people who have form-blindness like me can use these tools. As a child and an adult, I hate building things with Lego and other building materials. I think part of my dislike stems from my poor fine-motor skills and the fact that I just cannot see 3-D in games and films that support them. Instead, I’m a very 2-D person. Even with animations, I prefer 2-D designs over 3-D. However, that doesn’t stop me from dimensional thinking and modelling through words when I write. Still, though, not everyone will be like me, and those who do not suffer from form blindness, I’d encourage to use Lego and building materials to enhance their creative development. After all, why should people limit their thinking to one dimension, when they can be capable of more?

Embodied Thinking Reflection

Jumping in the AirFor me, the way I see embodied thinking is that it’s a combination of using our physical and emotional senses to bring abstract concepts to something more concrete. The physical aspect of embodied thinking is also known as kinesthetic thinking, and the emotional part is known as empathising. In my previous post, I created a graphical depiction of the way I use embodied thinking. This method didn’t fully capture the kinesthetic thinking on my part (ie: it didn’t show me walking), but with the thought bubble, I was able to show how I use empathising in my writings. I chose to do digital art as my creative modality because digital art is something I’ve dabbled with in years (and because I didn’t have the right tools and skills to do other mediums . . . )

When it comes to creating fanworks, embodied thinking is a great tool to use. It’s a tool everyone should at least understand the basics of and use when they need to be creative. For an example, if I were to write a fanfic about a character having a knee injury that last a lifetime, I can think about the time when I injured my own knee, think about that moment of extreme pain and the lingering pain long after the incident, and then translate those physical and emotional pain in an artistic way. Another example can be writing about a character who hoards food in their house despite being well off. This is something my mother does, and she does it because she grew up in a poverty-stricken environment. To her, food is a precious commodity, and because she remembers those times of being hungry due to lack of food, she stocks up now. I look at our full pantry, and I imagine the extreme hunger she must have gone through as a child, and thus she didn’t want me and my dad to feel the same way, so she stocks up.

Embodied thinking isn’t limited to just fanfic writers, though. Artists can use this tool to figure out body positions and facial expressions in their art. If they want to capture an expression full of love, they can try to emulate that by looking in a mirror or by studying other people’s expression. Or maybe just study the body language of people, too, which is another aspect they can try and draw or paint — traditionally or digitally — in their work. Even in music, we can bring embodied thinking to create songs that will fit the mood. When we’re happy, how does our body move, as opposed to when we’re feeling sad, anger, and exhaustion? If a story showcases some kind of a major breakthrough, would the music be depressing or energetic?

As a species, humans are physical like other animals (we move, we eat, we sleep, we feel pain . . . ), but we’re also capable of being emotional — emotions we can put into words. Embodied thinking is just something that allows us to both, and when we bring that tool to expand on our creativity, we then add feelings and depths to what we’re trying to create.

Embodied Thinking Graphical Depiction

embodiedthinkingart

This graphic was made with PowerPoint and PhotoShop 7. The original art is by a dear friend, H. This picture shows how I think and empathise when I write fanfics. A lot of my embodied thinking occurs when I am on my computer, but when I am walking, I also enter what I call the “daydream mode”. It’s like when I am at my computer, I am consciously aware of what I want to think and imagine about. But when I am walking, I am unconsciously daydreaming of random scenarios that I can explore while absorbing the environment and the happenings around me. My thinking’s more orderly in front of a computer, but less orderly and more surreal-like when I am walking.

The above shows a cartoon version of me sitting on top of a pile of books I like. It shows me multi-tasking, and the state I am in while I am in front of a computer. I write fanfics when I am at my computer, and depending on what I am writing, I start thinking about concepts like the ones I’ve listed in the thought bubble. Things like how would I feel if I were . . . what would this be like if . . . we don’t have magic in our world, but what if magic existed . . .

I am empathising the characters in the story, and all of these also occur when I am walking, though more in a fragmented way since I get distracted by my surroundings. Yet, I discover that when I am walking, some of my best ideas come to me then. Something about being in auto-pilot mode seem to trigger the part of my brain that comes up with all the good ideas. Whether I’m at the computer or whether I’m walking, embodied thinking helps me be a better writer and a better person.

The Creative “I” ~ Variations on a Theme

For this second Creative “I” assignment, I chose to rewrite “Danny Boy”.

My revised lyrics are below:

Oh, Mrs Lee, the notes, the notes are playing.
From sea to sea, your love has touched us all.
But now you’re gone, and many hearts are crying.
But your name will be left on a wall.

Because it’s you, who gave us everything you had
We learned from you the music of the heart
So that is why your passing made us very sad.
Oh, Mrs. Lee, your soul’s a work of art.

“Danny Boy” is a ballad that is usually set to the tune called “Londonderry Air”. I chose this song to revise because my beloved high school band teacher, mentor, and friend passed away on October 16, 2013, four months after retiring. One of the last songs she had conducted prior to her retirement is “Irish Tune from County Derry” at the Far East Music Conference in April 2013.

After her untimely passing, I spent two days listening to songs I associated with her. “Irish Tune from County Derry” and “Danny Boy” began to stick in my head, and I was suddenly “inspired” to re-write its lyrics, instead of finishing up a different song I had already started. Doing this re-writing ended up being a very cathartic experience for me, and something I am glad I did as a mini-tribute to Mrs. Lee.

This entire exercise shows how a single song came from multiple sources. “Danny Boy” was written by Frederic Weatherly, and it was combined with an Irish folk tune from County Derry, a song that was later picked up by composer Percy Grainger, who arranged it into the song, “Irish Tune from County Derry”. Meanwhile, “Danny Boy” has been recorded multiple times, with one version being the 1955 Judy Garland version posted above. One song churned out multiple versions and renditions, and even conductors like Mrs. Lee interpreted the song in her own way.

Throughout history, many themes in creative works are shown to be repeated, but with a twist from the creator. Look at Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story. Look at how a melody from Gustav Holst’s “Jupiter: The Bringer of Jollity” was turned into the song, “I Vow to Thee, My Country” and to a Japanese pop song called “Jupiter“. These works are similar with each other, but at the same time are still different because the creator, the artist themselves, put some of their own knowledge and experience in the creative process.

One quote from Henriksen, Mishra, and the Deep-Play Research Group (n.d.) that has struck me is this:

People with a wider range of knowledge and experience have richer concepts to build on, and hence the potential to see more knobs or possibilities than those with narrower foundations.

Tara and her many interests!  Drawn by a dear friend, H.

Tara and her many interests! Drawn by a dear friend, H.

That makes complete sense to me. As a writer, I try to write what I know. What I know are: English literature, classical music, Japanese animes, video games, technology, and many other things that all come into my fanworks creation. When I write about sadness and depression, I think of my own sad memories and put myself into that state, which helps me find the appropriate words. Same thing for happiness — I think of the happiest times of my life, and bring those abstract concepts into words. To me, knowledge and experience are power, and that is why I read and watch what I can because the plot and characters I see in books, video games, and other medium gives me new ideas. I partake in doing new experiences like trying new cuisine and going to new places because what I do only empowers my creative process, and like a tool, it helps me create new stories and ideas mixed with what I know and feel and my perceptions. That’s what my fanfics do, it tells a familiar story using familiar characters, but with a twist of my own contributions.

And I will continue to read new things and go on new adventure. I want to always expand on what I know since there are infinite number of things out in the world I can learn and consume to my own pleasure. Japan is my happy place, but I’ve only been to Tokyo, so I will remedy that one day by visiting other parts of Japan like Osaka and Kyoto. There are plenty of food I’ve been wanting to try and will do so when the opportunity comes. There are always new books, games, movies, and shows for me to consume, and there will always be new stories for me to try and tell. All of this is a neverending cycle, a cycle I will encourage with the children and youth I work with. I enjoy introducing them to new things and encouraging them to try new skills. And as an adult mentor, I will continue to encourage ways to expand on their creativity and will always work on expanding my own creative process, too.

Reference: Henriksen, D., Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group. (n.d.) Twisting knobs and connecting things: Rethinking technology & creativity in the 21st century. Retrieved from http://punya.educ.msu.edu/cep818/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/TechTrends.Mishra.7.26.2013.pdf

Abstracting Reflection

AbstractionTo me, the simplest way to utilise abstracting is to find the “essence” of the concept or idea at hand. From there, we can expand on that essence during the creative process. I wrote in the previous entry that I wrote out my fanfic and then planned the fanmix by abstracting the essence of the fic and its individual scenes, and then proceeded to create the fanwork in two mediums. So I thought of the concept first and then abstracted with it. However, upon further reflection, and looking over my fanmix notes, I think I am slowly remembering the opposite — I may have actually planned out the actual fanmix and its scenes, and then wrote the fic! (Of which, I am entirely not sure of since it’s been years since I’ve planned and completed this work . . . )

Infinite PossibilitiesWhich then leads to another revelation about abstracting — it’s something that can be done in any order, and the end creative work results in an infinite number of possibilities. For an example, going back to my fanfic and fanmix, I came up with a scene/song called “The Strife” where it deals with Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy in class, debating over a literary work with Dark Moor’s “Winter, Movement I” as the background song. Whether I write the scene first or plan the song and scene first, I could have ended up with something different where the “strife” could have been a boxing match, or perhaps it could have been a literary discussion at a pub, or maybe even a strife that ends with sexual activity. And why limit the scene to just that song? There are thousands of other songs in our world that could fit the atmosphere and the mood of the scene, being another instrumental or a song with lyrics that adds more to the scene.

All of these possible outcomes . . . is what draws people to fanworks. Fanworks provide an opportunity for amateur creators to seek out the possibility of different options in any medium of their choice. As long as the creator understands or seeks to understand what they are creating, they can utilise abstracting along with re-imaging and patterning mixed with their own perception of the subject matter. And I did all that in my fanfic and fanmix. My knowledge of classical music, English literature, class differences (via the military ranking system on the base I work at), digital art — all combined with some of my favourite tropes (like “Deadpan Snarker“) — contributed to this fanwork. Another example to consider are those fanworks that deal with serious issues like sexuality, mental illnesses, death of loved ones . . . fans write stories focusing on these tough subject matter, and in order to tell the story, they’d have to abstract through their feelings and understandings of tough “wordless” concepts to find the right word, pictures, art to tell their story.

Abstracting, to me, is not an easy thing to do always. Some days, ideas come to me as fast as the speed of light. Other times, like with this fanmix and fanfic, I’d spend days planning and trying to figure out the essence, the main point of the work. Abstracting may not be easy, but it is an important tool to use in a creative process, a tool that can be used in the arts, maths, and sciences, and help contribute new ways of thinking in our world.

Abstracting Deconstruction

cccdcover cccdtracklist

The two images above are the front cover and the tracklist of a fanmix I made for my fanfic of the same name. Way back in 2006 or so, I had this fanfic idea where I’d invert Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy’s social standing, and in the next couple of years, I refined that basic premise into a non-magical AU (short for “alternate universe”). Ron is a famous, wealthy model, and Draco is poorer and comes from a single-parent household (his father passing away in a car accident). The two know each other as classmates at Hogwarts University, and despite their opposite social standings, I tried to keep their personalities the same as they are in the original books. Meaning, that Ron is still a hot-headed, brash, but kind and loyal young man, and Draco remains to be prickly, snobby man with a cynical (and witty) outlook on life, and when these two meet, their personalities clash in every possible way. They eventually become friends and lovers through a series of events consisting of classical music, English literature, and tango.

After the fic was written, I made the fanmix, and that was where the abstraction happened. See, I cannot draw worth a hoot — however, I can use Photoshop to manipulate photos into digital art. Ergo, what I really wanted on the fanmix cover was a drawing of Ron and Draco, but that wasn’t going to be an option for me. So I had to stop and think about the story and figure out its true “essence”. Once I figured that out, I went on Google Images to find something that portrays the differences of the two blokes, but also signifies their coming together. And the photo below is what I ended up founding and loving to death, along with an Andy Warhol quote that also fit the essence of the fic.

cccdcover-original

Then came the real fun part of the music compilation. I broke down the fic into scenes, and I picked a song based on the scene’s mood and atmosphere and “renamed” the song to capture the scene. For an example — “The Strife” is a scene where Ron and Draco are first in together, and they are arguing over a literary point of view in their English class. I chose Dark Moor’s rendition of Vivaldi’s “Winter, Movement I” because the song is moody and slowly builds up until its conflict-filled melody burst at the climax. Instead of choosing the original orchestra version, I also went for Dark Moor’s more modern sound since the electric guitar takes over the violin solo, representing the AU-factor of the story. The rest of the fanmix is listed below with my notes from when I was planning it years ago!

“Proem”
Artie Shaw – Begin the Beguine (Opening where Ron strolls through the Campus, waving at people and enjoying the morning sun and the new day. He knows he’s happy, but he feels something is missing from his life and he wasn’t sure what.)

“The Strife”
Antonio Vivaldi – Dark Moor – Winter, Movement I (Ron ends up strolling around too late, walks into his English class late and has to sit next to Draco, the only seat left. The class is having a discussion some literary thing, and the two of them head butt against each other in their theories on Hemingway (whether Hemingway was gay or not?))

“Consonance and Dissonance”
Franz Liszt – La Campanella (Ron hears this in the music hallway, walks towards the source of the sounds, and sees it’s Draco performing it.)

“Whimsicality”
Yiruma – Dream a Little Dream of Me (Ron thinks about ways to get Draco to notice him and realises he likes him. At that moment he is with Pansy having dinner or something.)

“Hopelessly Zany”
Tales of Symphonia – Off-key (Ron tries to gain Draco’s attention and it rather fails.)

“Conniving Strategy”
Chrono Trigger – Delightful Spekkio (Ron goes and talk to Pansy, who’s being difficult, and eventually gives him advices.)

“Deliberation”
Carlos Gardel – Por Una Cabeza (For a tango scene. Pansy reveals that Draco likes Tangoing — while Pansy is a fan of jazz music and swing dancing, which is what influenced Ron into liking jazz.)

“Ruminative”
Kanno Yoko – Memory of Fanelia (Draco invites Ron to his place for dinner, and Ron takes in the poverty that surrounds Draco, but realises that it’s a part of him and embraces Draco’s home and Narcissa’s loving (albeit very snarky and teasing) nature.)

“Lamentation”
Junjou Romantica – Junsui Koigokoro (Have Arthur almost dies and Draco comes to comfort Ron because he lost his father years ago and can sympathise?)

“Tranquil Affair”
Suikoden V – The Night Before the Decisive Battle ~Theme of a Moonlit Night~ (Ron and Draco are walking in the park like the romantics writers did and under the moonlight share their first kiss and yadada.)

“Culmination”
October Sky – Main Theme (The pseudo-ending song for the fic. :) When they realise they do care for each other and blahblahblah.)

“Finis”
Duke Ellington – Take the “A” Train (The real ending theme for the fic . . . it’s more upbeat than the opening theme because now Ron has everything he could ask for.)

This fanfic and fanmix holds a special place in my heart. It’s a story I’ve wanted to write and tell for a long time, so when I finally had the opportunity and the self-motivation to create it, I did. Doing this required a lot of planning and thinking on my part, and for me, abstracting is very handy when one wants to create something.

The Creative “I” ~ Defining Creativity

CreativityWhat is creativity, and how does one’s creative process works? That is what I asked Beth K., a long-time online friend from the Harry Potter fandom, who also read and write fanfics. She is someone who I admire, and someone whose creative process just fascinated me, so I really looked forward to interviewing her.

The Full “Creative I Interview” with Beth K.

Beth eloquently defined “creativity” as where it is a combination of discipline, courage, and desire channelled towards bringing something new into the world. This definition is further explained that discipline is required to allow one to focus and create despite setbacks; courage is needed to allow creators to push on while being vulnerable to negative feedback; and desire is needed because creative individuals want to create new things — after all, being forced to do something against one’s will can be quite counter-productive. The three elements — discipline, courage, and desire — combined will allow creative juice to flow. For some, creativity can be used to create beautiful things in the world (ie: the arts), but creativity can also bring danger to our world (ie: weapons).

As a child coming from a family that encouraged creativity, Beth was involved with writing (her school encouraged their students to “write to read” as opposed to “write to learn”.), ballet, tap dance, jazz dance, violin, piano, and choir. As an adult, she participates in writing poetry and fanfictions, and she sings in a high-level volunteer chorus. She also finger-paints, but those paintings are done for her own privacy, and she rarely shares them with others.

With all these activities, she considers herself to be a creative individual, but her creative process involves synthesis rather than creating completely from scratch. She says that she sees “new” creations from the way different elements (visual, aural, or verbal) come together into infinite combinations. For an example, when she writes fanfic, she thinks about who her characters are and where they are going. Combined with the plot and other story writing elements, she researches for her story, which excites her, and she puts it all together. She wants her works to make sense in a complete way. When she wrote a fanfic featuring a four-year-old once, I mentioned to her that the child’s language seemed a bit too advanced for their age, and she took my observation to heart, and we discussed ways to fix the child’s speech to sound more realistic and age-appropriate.

I asked Beth about the NEW formula to measure and define creativity, and she and I both agreed that the NEW concept kind of went against the “joy” part of creativity. While I agree that works and concepts that are novel, effective, and whole showcase the definition of creativity, but when applied to online fanworks, those would not fit the “new” part of the definition. Fanworks are not considered “new” at all, since they are all based off of existing works. Beth even mentioned about how West Side Story being a retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but just set in a different social setting and time period. There are many works out there that are retelling or re-imaging of something that have already been done. Fanworks are just that, but they are created by fans for the enjoyment factor. We fans want to re-interpret works in a way that captures our perceptions. Are we creating something new? In essence, no, but we are still creating works that are “new” to other fans. Not all fanworks are of high quality, but there are gems online that invoke emotions in us as we absorb them, works that just breathe a new fresh of life.

And to me, that is the root of creativity. Some things we create may not impact the whole world as major works have done, but as long as we create something that still makes a difference to someone, then that is what matters. Creativity comes in all shapes and forms, all different sizes. Beth’s creative process takes on a rebuilding route; others take on the ex nihilo route. Whatever the case might be, creativity is something everyone can partake in, and it is a process that can be a very personal adventure. An adventure I encourage the kids I work with, and an adventure I go on myself. In fact, my job alone allows me to experience and see creativity on a daily basis due to my interactions with the kids. Being around them, I get to see things through their own perspective, and I can then bring that into my own creative mindset. So not only do I get inspirations from the kids at work, but I also get inspirations through my media consumption. Whether it’s a book, film, or video game, I always discover something new that makes my head spin, and it draws out my scientific and philosophical side.

Therefore my plan to become more creative is to always expand my knowledge-base through media consumption, real-life experiences, and learning. Life itself is a gigantic learning experience, and it is up to me to take that opportunity to do what I can. I’ll try to travel more in the future, including finally visiting United Kingdoms and Europe. I’ll keep on playing my video games and reading and watching new books and films. I’ll try to learn a new skill like computer-building. Whatever I do will benefit me to become a better person and to become a better writer. After all, I’ll continue to write what I know.