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Welcome to First Monday Mentoring for March.

As most of the world knows by now, the American actor, Leonard Nimoy, died on Friday. By early Saturday morning Australian time, the hashtag #RIPLeonardNimoy was one of the top trending topics on Twitter and Facebook, and his likeness dominated the world media on and offline.

Even if you aren’t a Star Trek fan, you probably recognized him as Mr. Spock, the logical, pointed-eared Vulcan from Star Trek’s original series which premiered in the 1960s. After Trek, Nimoy starred in series including Mission Impossible and In Search of, and was also a notable stage performer, director, poet, photographer, philanthropist and family man.

Nimoy's last live convention appearance. Photo by Maria Jose Tenuto, used with thanks.

Nimoy’s last live convention appearance. Photo by Maria Jose Tenuto, used with thanks.

I knew him only slightly from my long involvement with the show when I helped organize conventions for fans, fund-raising to bring people from the show to Australia. Some, I’m still friends with today.

Writing eventually took me away from active fandom but my passion for Star Trek remained part of my life in many ways.

When I set up Australia’s first conference on romance writing, I brought Susan Sackett out to talk about the US market. The author of many Hollywood-related books, she co-wrote episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation and worked with Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, for many years.

A younger me with Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry

A younger me with Star Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry

I considered Gene Roddenberry one of my writing mentors. The technique he used to create the character of Mr. Spock is one I still use and share with the writers I mentor. Gene said he drew a line down the centre of a page, writing his questions for Spock on the left-hand side and the character’s “answers” on the right.

He said the answers may seem forced at first, but if you persevere, the character starts speaking back to you, often surprising you with insights you didn’t know were lurking deep in your subconscious.

When I talked with him about writing for Star Trek, Gene recommended creating my own characters and their universe rather than limiting my options to Paramount Studio’s requirements. It was many years before I fully took this advice, creating my alien Beacons and a series of books starting with Birthright (Corvallis Press, USA).
Even then, Star Trek hovered around the Beacons, challenging me to create my own technology and “world” – not easy considering Trek has a fifty-year head start, showcasing technology which was unheard-of back then, but is commonplace today.

Technology was far from Star Trek’s only appeal for me. At heart I value the show’s inclusiveness and sense of wonder. The stories seek to understand and celebrate our differences, shown most clearly in the character of Mr. Spock. The message is – whoever you are is OK; women can be anything; alienness is to be understood not feared. I’m glad to say that we Trekkies appreciate this spirit even more 50 years on.

Previously I’ve blogged here about how William Shatner, Star Trek’s Captain Kirk, inspires my personal and professional life with his energy, enthusiasm and resilience into his eighties.

In my non-fiction book, The Idea Factory, (Allen & Unwin, Australia), I quote Leonard Nimoy on what he called the “goodies box” that actors – and I believe, writers – all have.

“You come into town with your box of goodies…that is you, and you start to use it and sell it and eventually the box of goodies gets used up, and then you must go back to something else to fill up the box with new goodies.”
Nimoy was describing the need for creative people to soak up input from as many sources as possible. Also called absorption trips, they can range from travelling, reading and watching movies, to meeting people outside your normal circle, whatever gives you fresh material to write about.

What is your passion? What fills your creative goodies box? Is it Star Trek or something completely different? Share your thoughts in the comment box below. They’re moderated to avoid spam, but if you want your comment to appear right away, click on “sign me up” at right. I don’t share your details with anyone else.

Vale Leonard Nimoy. And as Spock might say, live long and prosper in your creative work.

on Twitter @valerieparv and Facebook
Check out Valerie’s online course, Free the Writer In You

Comments on: "First Monday Mentoring for March 2015 – what passions drive your writing?" (15)

  1. Valerie, we met through our Trek activities in what? — 1978? — I admit to feelings of disbelief amid sorrow that Mr Spock has gone. I wrote fan fic for many years and it inspired me to create my own worlds, and to follow my dream of becoming published, which I achieved in 1998 and have continued up until the present day. What is my passion? Characters, emotion and humour. What fills my goodie box? Life – in its infinite diversity – Trek’s ideal of IDIC has remained with me ever since I watched Star Trek in the sixties. I think that belief influences all my writing – exploring the diversity of reality through my characters: whether it’s fantasy or a contemporary romance. I have been working on a challenging book for 2 years, a complete divergence from my usual style and genre, but a book that ignited a hitherto unknown passion and had to be written. For me, my goodie box is within me: I have never been empty of ideas and stories, but if I seek inspiration it’s a walk in my garden, or watching the birds and animals play on my property.

    • Ah, memories, Astrid. Leonard Nimoy believed the goodies box was within us, replenished from without. Your new project sounds intriguing.

  2. What a beautiful post, Valerie.

    Yes, I’ve loved Star Trek since I was a little girl. I love sharing my birth year with Star Trek. 😀

    My creative goodies box includes doing crafts, Pinterest, watching favorite movies, re-reading favorite books…Sometimes, I simply close my eyes and take a trip inside my own head, go take a look at what’s lurking in the deep, dark, scary depths. Imagination and the sparks of creativity are everywhere, we just need to be still sometimes so we can recognize them.

  3. Reblogged this on Writing For My Sanity and commented:
    Written by a longtime, very dear friend, and writing mentor, Valerie Parv, this is excellent on so many levels. As I commented on her blog: My creative goodies box includes doing crafts, Pinterest, watching favorite movies, re-reading favorite books…Sometimes, I simply close my eyes and take a trip inside my own head, go take a look at what’s lurking in the deep, dark, scary depths. Imagination and the sparks of creativity are everywhere, we just need to be still sometimes so we can recognize them.

    Comments welcome, and please visit Valerie’s blog at to read this post and many, many more.

  4. Thanks, Valerie! Revisiting Gene Roddenberry’s character creation advice, I went and had a long conversation with the heroine of my current work in progress. She was happy enough talk to me (except when I asked the tough questions), and we resolved some issues. (I did manage to calm her down. Eventually. She got angry at a couple of my questions. She’s largely choleric, which suits her to her work, but makes her stubborn and apt to lead rather than follow.) Now to talk with the Hero. He’s been hiding things from me, too, I think… 🙂

  5. Beautifully said, Valerie! Leonard Nimoy was such a positive influence in this world filled with negative. My creative goodies box is filled by reading books by talented writers like yourself ❤

  6. Ian Chambers said:

    Here’s to you, Valerie. Without Star Trek, you & I would never have met, nor would I have made a brief cameo in one of your books (a humbling experience, to say the least). To tell the world what Star Trek, its creator Gene R, and Leonard’s portrayal of the beloved Spock has meant to me throughout my life, would take thousands of words & hundreds of hours, and still I doubt I’d do it justice. But here, in this one post, you’ve captured the forward-looking gentle spirit at the heart of this future mythology and those who created it… and what that spirit can inspire. I thank you for that. You have spoken for me and tens of thousands of others who stand on the shoulders of these giants. RIP Leonard Nimoy.

    • Hi Ian, thanks for posting. I like the “future mythology”, it fits so well. As it happens, you shared The Idea Factory with Leonard (you’re in the preface). LLAP yourself.

  7. Amelia Elias said:

    I grew up watching the original Star Trek in reruns with my dad, and Spock was always my favorite character. He reminded me of my father in build and coloring and mannerisms, but also in the methodical, logical, highly intelligent way he would approach problems. (I always said that if you crossed Spock with the mischief and pranking nature of Hawkeye Pierce, that would be my dad!) Leonard Nimoy also was integral to another fandom I proudly support, the Transformers. I admired him so much. Even though I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I felt like I lost a beloved family member when I heard that he had passed on.

    His advice about filling your “goodie box” is spot on. I get energized by movies and long drives, by talks with friends and family and time spent alone staring into the fire, by thunderstorms and good books and music. What fills up my creative cup are the things that make life good.

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