It’s about this point in the observation journal that I began adapting the “5 Things to Steal” model to catch aspects of broader events and conversations, or even just of a day. (See also: other 5 Things to Steal posts and more about using Austin Kleon‘s approach to ‘stealing’ in Bookmarks and Remarks.)
The approach: Sometimes there’s an overwhelming amount to report on, sometimes the details are vague. Either way, choosing 5 big things (and maybe an extra, as a treat) has become a good way to both record anything and make sure it is useful. I also made tiny notes about ways to try out/adapt the ideas.
These notes are from a day online for Worldcon 2020. The unifying interests had to do with textures and delicately-observed sensibilities.
- Asking people about new projects/directions they’re excited for people to look at (or what lights them up about something they’re discussing) is a useful question for panels, conversations, etc.
- Holly Black and Kelly Link discussed using tonal or textural overlays to guide decisions in a narrative/when writing. This is one of my favourite ways to approach writing and art (as you might have noticed) and such a concise way of expressing it. (Edit: it’s a bit like Variations on Descriptions / More Swapped Descriptions / More Mixed Descriptions, but at the story/scene level)
- Holly and Kelly also discussed having a safety-net/backup ending in mind (when writing) in case of not being able to think of a cleverer one. (This amuses & delights me.)
- Alyssa Winans’ compositions, especially illustrations with a central sublime glowing cloud, or a sense of rising scale and wonder. That was something I wanted to try more. Also the use of almost line-art surface textures in painterly works. (John Jude Palencar does this, too, and when I realised that it tripped something in my brain that resisted thinking in a painterly way.)
- How the movie The Old Guard conveyed a sensitivity and affection in its characters that was not diminished by time or age. The default of many stories I’d encountered lately had been to make experience and age (especially long age) turn characters cynical. Seeing the opposite was powerfully pleasant. (Recently I’ve been talking about how much I enjoy stories where good people happen to bad things, instead of the other way around, and this is connected.)
(Part of the reason for posting these pages in retrospect is that I get to review them with the benefit of time, and also realise that what I liked about The Old Guard is what I enjoyed about Ted Lasso.)