“Disaster strikes! World-wide plague created by aliens sent to earth quickly eradicating the entire human race! Oh, save us please, young and inexperienced group of misfit and flawed individuals!”
I write stuff like that ALL the time. Ok, maybe not EXACTLY like that but let me tell you, I have forgotten more ways to creatively send the world to the brink of annihilation than I have actually written anything else (SUCK IT ACADEMIC PAPERS! YOU WILL NEVER WIN!). Put simply, it is an easy framework to structure a complex story within… and I am a huge science fiction geek so do the math here.
But there are so many other stories out there. There’s the story of the newly employed and soon-to-be wed couple who are sitting at the coffee table and enjoying their cups of Joe while being unable to stop beaming at one another with giddiness. There’s the story about the huge group of friends and who welcome back the “black sheep” for a few hours and give him a chance to realize why said individual loves them all so much. There’s the story about the burgeoning professor who is preparing to teach his/her first lecture ever on Monday and is stress eating away on Doritos and salsa while watching early morning reruns of I Love Lucy on the Hallmark channel (between 3am and 5am, I believe) because he/she cannot seem to find sleep. These are just a few examples of all the different stories and ideas I actually think about when working on any one of my “OMG SCIFI APOCALYPSE STORY EEK!” pieces.
The one thing I have started to slowly figure out is that all of these aforementioned “stories” are really just vignettes. They are small instances that tell us an incredible amount of information about the lives and experiences of different characters and allow us to truly know every little bit about each moment. The actual story of all of these vignettes is life itself. The truly interesting part of everything is spun out of each of those and yet it is always so important to take these small beats, even when telling a story with a global impact, to establish what we find so important about what we are writing.
Anyone who knows me knows how happy I am to not have marching band on my schedule this year. I am enjoying the time away like a baby enjoys a nap and yet I find myself missing something about it. It took me a while to sort through everything (I’m practically burying myself in spec scripts and outlines on top of schedules, my assignments that have already started pouring in, etc) but I finally realized that I was missing the section. Call it a small vignette out of my life but getting a chance to be around each of them was like dropping back in on family. I got to see that myriad of personalities (some of which had some obvious tension… and by that I mean “Jesus you two just bang and get it over with already please…”), interact with my friends, and make new ones.
For four years, the section (Trombone, if you were wondering) has been a type of family for me. I’ll be honest and say that it is a bit more like the Bluth family or even the Archer family but nonetheless, it is a family. In a four hour blip in my life, I came to realize that this particular familial vignette has been an incredibly important part of my life and who I am. For four years, the section has been my harbor in the storm (even when things were FAR from great) and when I finally do leave Iowa City, I will miss this family the most out of all of my experiences as a college student.
Call it an example of the power of a vignette but maybe it is time for me to write something other than some apocalyptic and sex-charged science fiction story. If I ever get around to it, it’ll be dedicated to the Hawkeye Marching Band Trombone Section that I love and adore…
But until I do write that, I guess you’ll just have to survive with either science fiction or incredibly crude and inappropriate comedies.
See ya, Space Cowboy.