Monday, March 26, 2012

Brainstorming with an 8-year-old

 A few hours ago, I clicked on a link on Neil Gaiman's tweet. It took me here. It's Neil reading a little piece called "The Sweeper of Dreams," something he wrote to inspire people to take part in the Mini Opera competition, which pairs a librettist with a composer, and later, both of those with a film maker. All these people in the competition, it is assumed, are amateurs, looking for some avenue to express their creative passion.

I thought, Cool.

Then I took my 8-year-old son out the park to ride his bike, and for me to brainstorm my work in progress, which happens to be tied to an opera.

On the way home, I mentioned to my son Julien that one of the judges for this contest was Terry Gilliam, of Monty Python's Flying Circus.  (Gilliam is one of Julien's favorites, and yes, I know that this show is completely inappropriate for an 8-year-old. Blame his French father, who insists that it provides a cultural education and that boobies are just silly.) Julien's eye grew wide at the mention of Gilliam, and he asked if anyone--even 1-year-olds?--could try to write the opera. I said yes. So we rode home and this was the brainstorming session that ensued.

("The Sweeper of Dreams," by the way, is about this guy who sweeps away your dreams as you wake so that you aren't haunted by those dreams in the waking hours. Somehow, the opera story should relate to something about Gaiman's story.

We're munching on mandarin oranges and V8 fruit juice.)

I kept trying to torque his brainstorming around to the plot, but as you can tell, maybe the magic of brainstorming is not to be so logical all the time. As I listened to it, I realized I should have just let loose rather than have a strangle-hold on the plot.

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