Dear Joss Whedon, Thank You.
Yesterday was a fabulous day! A big day, but crammed full of exciting goodness. In the afternoon, I went to catch up with the lovely Jen. I was rather late, so we didn’t get to get chatty as much as is customary for a catch up, however we did get to watch Miley be an annoying teenager in The Last Song. I was expecting a sappy teenage romance, however that movie takes a nasty turn toward the actually sad in the second half and the world should really be warned! Or, just pay a little more attention to the title than Jen and I did…
Friday evening brought a time I had been looking forward to for weeks, an evening with Joss Whedon! Well, not like a date or anything, just a opportunity to share some air and bathe in the presence of one of my heroes. Joss might not actually be a super hero, but he did create several that I have been enjoying on repeat for over a decade now!
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Joss was speaking at The Melbourne Town Hall as a part of The Melbourne Writers Festival. The atmosphere was practically glowing with the combined admiration beaming from the audience. In the moments before Joss came out, anticipation seized a good deal of oxygen out of the air and an excited voice thanked the sponsors as their logos were projected for our viewing pleasure. The lead sponsors were greeted with applause……aaand now I must take a second for a confession. As the screen filled with the logos of the smaller sponsors and the audience and voiceover hushed, I was that dingbat that loudly said thank you and added a few claps. I sincerely apologise, not to the sponsors, to whom I am grateful (it was JOSS WHEDON!), but to everyone around me that was subjected to my unintentional display of doofustry. Sometimes I get excited and just say things out loud, this can often caused awkwardness for someone with a perpetually loud voice and a propensity for spontaneous clapping, especially in an echoey room.
The Q&A session was pretty much what I expected. I didn’t really go along to learn how to be Joss Whedon, like my 18-year-old self would have. Once you have been around the block a few times you start to realise that people are all just people, even famous, talented people. No two people are exactly alike and these days I am of the opinion that the only person we should set out to be like is the one that we will become if we stay true to ourselves. Joss is a funny guy and listening to him talk was giggly times, however anyone looking for a secret about how to create genius on a page or screen might have been surprised to hear that there isn’t actually one. Many talented writers and artists will say the same thing, if you want to create something, just create it. Believe in it. Trust your instincts and if you want to get it out there for consumption, then go and get it out there. I think that deep down most writers are aware of this. The hard work of it, though, can be a simplistic truth they are hoping to avoid. I love listening to how other people’s minds work and often pick up little insights inspired by their stories, however I have always known that the only thing sitting between me and a finished manuscript is a nice little lack of discipline.
I was none too impressed when the people lucky enough to gain a go at the microphone asked lame questions about how they could become him. I held my tongue, but what I really wanted to yell was, “You can’t be someone else, moron! Not only that, but you just wasted an opportunity to ask Joss Whedon to do the dance of joy. WHY DID YOU WASTE THAT?!”.
The thing I found most amazing whilst sitting in the same room as Joss Whedon, was thinking about how much the characters and worlds he created have enriched my own life. I grew up around the same time as Buffy, Willow and Xander and always found these characters so relatable that in some part of my mind, it almost felt like I really knew them. Buffy Summers is an amazingly strong, beautiful, charmingly imperfect and exquisitely vulnerable character. She battles with demons, real and emotional, mostly she wins but she has also experienced great loss. I’ve always found her struggles with real life, college and general society after high school incredibly well portrayed. Life is hard and being special in high school doesn’t necessarily translate when you enter the human adult, massive, population. Buffy develops as a person, she falls in love, she makes mistakes, she learns and she never pretends to have all the answers. I have always loved this realness about her and often, in times of upset, I find comfort in putting in the dvd of an episode in which Buffy has faced hard times and found the strength and courage to battle on regardless.
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I’d be writing a book if I started on about the wonders of the Sunnydale mythology, so I won’t. What I do want to tell you about is how strange it was to sit there, watching a man speak, just a man, and thinking about how his thoughts, his dreams and the things he imagined have influenced my world. Our worlds are what we perceive after all and I have so many memories of times and discussions with others, even costume parties, that have been influenced by the creations of Joss Whedon. How bizarre it is, this connecting of minds and lives between people through art and writing. I love that we live in a world in which one person’s actions really can touch many, teach many, or simply entertain them – something to be greatly valued, never underestimate the life improving qualities of boredom antidotes!
for creating what you create,
for making me laugh,
for making me cry,
and for embracing that little bit of insanity that makes your work incredible.
My big night out also included a lovely dinner with a friend and a long awaited real life meeting with the squee-happy and tweeting giggler, Miss Kimberley from Pop Couture. It’s always so exciting meeting someone that I have been chatting on Twitter with for about as long as I have been chatting on Twitter. I’m yet to have a negative experience with one of these meetings and I love the refreshment of knowing that there are real people, being real people online now, even if it still pays to be a little cautious. Meeting Kim was great, we only had time for a brief chat but it was fabulous to be able to get to know one another a little better and I am looking forward to meeting up again sometime!
Physically, I am pretty exhausted today. Happily, I am not in as much pain as I was expecting. I really am getting better at managing my pain, my expectations and how I react when I am experiencing high levels of pain! Improving my reactions is making it possible for me to truly have a good time again, to be able to let go of my worries and really enjoy being social again. It just takes a bit (a shitload) of practise, that’s all, and I will be able to pace my way back to a more fulfilling and productive life. Today I must rest, but I rest on happy memories – and really, that’s what life’s all about.
Love & Legends,
P.S. Hungry for more? Check out a bit about Joss in this recent article from The Age.