So. I have recently had an amazing, exciting, you beaut, ripper of a writing highlight experience – I saw Joss Whedon speak at the Sydney Opera House!
Of course, I had to get myself to Sydney so up I flew (not under my own power, utilising the powers of aviation, of courses). Very kindly, friends allowed me to stay with them and thus I was all set for my Joss experience! More after the jump: Trundling in to the Opera House was amazing in itself. I’d never actually been inside the Opera House before, so it was with wide eyes I entered. The building is amazing, a marvel of architecture. Even the toilets were noteworthy, with the cubicle doors forming a wave of a line that recalled the iconic waves of the Opera House roof.
However, I wasn’t there to stare at the toilets (hmm, that didn’t sound right). I found my seat and waited for the great man, taking in the ambience of the Concert Hall. Finally, the lights dimmed, the music faded and the crowd erupted in applause and excitement. An Opera House representative came on stage to introduce the event and also announced that Wil Anderson would be the moderator for the event. A split second of shocked silence before the crowd again erupted, excited that Wil Anderson, Wil Anderson, would be the moderator. Wow! Like, totally wasn’t expecting that at all (and we really didn’t – no sarcasm intened).
Next up, Wil came on the stage. He was super excited, explaining to those few who didn’t know how obsessed he is with Buffy. He then proceeded to amuse us with the information that he had tickets to the even, row S I believe, but once he was asked to actually sit on the stage, um, no brainer! He then introduced Joss and to the strains of Buffy’s theme song and a bellow of dry ice, Joss appeared! Oh my lord, I was so excited. Cheers, claps, screams, woo and the hooing…It was bedlam for a minute or two. Finally, we quietened down and Joss spoke.
I don’t remember precisely what he said, but I do remember the gist of it and how thought-provoking and in-depth it was. Basically, Joss said he gets asked the same question over and over and to head that off at the pass, he’d talk about why he always wrote about strong women with super powers. He started with a story of how he was speaking with Stephen Sondheim (anybody want a name? I think this one was just dropped) and Sondheim asked him what he wrote about. Joss, being a bit of a smart aleck, said strong chicks with super powers. Sondheim nodded thoughtfully and said “I write about longing.”
Well. What a way cooler answer.
This spurred Joss on to think about what he actually writes about. He thought about it and thought about it and came to a realisation – he writes about helplessness. As a child, he was small, his brothers picked on him, and he was overwhelmed by the presence of his father and thus felt afraid of him. This helplessness is at the core of his ‘dark place’, as he termed it, and he realised he was creating all these kick-arse females so they would rescue him.
This is, of course, a much condensed version of what he said but my god, what a lightbulb moment. As writers, if you want to emotionally affect others, you write from your dark place. I know I do. There is a whole post on that and maybe when I’m feeling brave I’ll discuss my own dark place. For now, though, let’s stick with Joss
After this wonderful address, Wil came back out and they settled in to an interview format.
From left: Joss Whedon and Wil Anderson
This part of the address was very amusing, and some gems came from it, but I don’t remember it as clearly as Joss speaking alone. That bit about the ‘dark place’ really hit me, and ultimately that’s what I’ve taken home from the experience.
After the interview finished, the audience was invited to ask questions and some great ones certainly were asked. One of my favourite moments wasn’t really a a question. A lad had just asked of Joss if he felt responsible for the current vampire craze, a veiled reference to the Twilight series, and Joss had responded with “Blame Anne Rice! Blame her! Unless it is a good series – then it was totally me!” Laughter, frivolity, ha and more ha. However, the next girl to the microphone said “Hi, my name is Bella-” and the audience lost it. Such an amusing moment. Once the laughter died down, she said “I was expecting that” and then proceed to talk. Instead of asking a question, however, she just wanted to thank Joss for Buffy. Very emotionally, she spoke of how Buffy helped her get through high school and I almost choked up. To go from laughter to gratitude was a wonderful moment, and one I will never forget.
Eventually it had to end, as all things must. However, I am so overwhelmingly glad I made the effort and the next time Joss speaks anywhere in Australia, I am definitely hoping on a jet plane! Unless he is talking in Adelaide (because that would totally happen:).