Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Meteor

I found great inspiration tonight.
I discovered, "The Meteor", a newspaper produced in the mid-1800's by the patients of the "Alabama Insane Hospital", which is now know as Bryce State Mental Hospital in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Here is a quick summary of the publication:

The newspaper was named The Meteor because meteors come as a surprise, appear at irregular intervals, and have brilliant though short, temporary careers. The paper was also meant "to glow with a kindly and generous sentiment to all mankind." It appeared quarterly for five years and then became a "semi-occasionally" because the printer and editor, "disgusted with the succession of years that still found them at the Hospital, determined . . . to print a number only when inclined to do so." The editor also surmised that people would not expect a regular publication from a hospital patient.

When I was growing up in the small town of Morris, Alabama, all of the "bad" students were sent to Bryce Adolescent School. It obviously had some sort of connection to the mental institution, both located in the same town about an hour and a half away from where I lived. It always seemed like a bad place. More on this later.

Since I completed "Piece of Cake" a few year ago (fall '06), I have been searching for SOMETHING creative to latch on to. I have created sculptures, explored photography and even tried my hand at performance art. Just searching and searching for my next big "project" and inspiration. I did find that I am good at all of these things (and even more than what I listed), but nothing has quite filled the gap in my soul.

My biggest problem, and biggest blessing, is that I am quite scattered and excitable most of the time. It is easy for me to imagine the possibilities of almost any creative venture... and it is always tempting to at least try it out. This has fortunately taught me a lot about myself. It has also left a lot of unfinished projects in the dust after my interest is lost. Granted, I always got intellectually what I needed out of it and I am sure I will benefit from the experimentation on day.

Anyway, what I guess I am trying to say is that I think another film is in my future. I am not sure when, where or how, but I can feel it in my soul.

I currently have two really strong concepts that I am playing around with. The original one was to do a film on birth of Birmingham, Alabama. Since I have been a native of Birmingham most of my life, I feel a strong connection and passion to tell this story. I am mostly intrigued by it's discovery in the mid to late-1800's and the span of history into the early 1900's. I have many books on the subject. But for some reason I do not feel like it is quite time to make this film. There is so much to learn before I can take it on. A really cool aspect of this project is the fact that so much of the original architecture is still in place, making it easier to create a "period" piece. We will see what happens with this idea.

Going back to "The Meteor"... I feel a really strong connection with the idea of creating a script on this subject. Ghosts, spiritual phenomenon and mental illness are all things that I am very familiar with. Mental illness runs in my family (to varying degrees), and even I had a run-in with an intense case of clinical OCD from my early childhood to early 20's. I think it could be very likely that if I had lived during this time period, that I might have been a patient at this facility. Nowadays, it is just the matter of finding a doctor and being on the right medication.

I think I am going to explore this idea some more, and do some serious research on the people who were in the Alabama Insane Hospital during the turn of the century. I bet there are many characters to be discovered and to be inspired by. And I don't think it has to be a sad tale, but one of hope and discovery.


  1. Hey! Look at you, Ms. Columnist. This is interesting about the Meteor. You are a tale of hope and discovery!

    S. Stone

  2. I like this idea! It's fun when you discover unique stories that really haven't been told yet. It's like they were waiting for you to come along.

  3. i'm all for it! sounds like a great story.