Where I Get My Ideas or A Terrifying Look Into SJ’s Mind

People love asking me different things about writing, about designing and building costumes, about performing, about all my aspects of creative life. However, there’s one that I think all creative types get the most, the one that’s probably one of the most fun to answer (if we’re being honest and in a playful mood) but also one of the most frustrating to get asked.

Where do you get your ideas?

To me ideas are so instinctive, so obviously THERE, that it’s a shock when I’m asked this. It makes me want to grab people by the shoulders and go “What do you mean?! Can’t you see all the things around y ou?! LOOK AT THE CRACKS IN THE SIDEWALK – THEY’RE BEAUTIFUL. LOOK AT ALL THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU THINKING THEIR OWN THOUGHTS!  LOOK AT IT ALL! IT’S ALL RIGHT THERE WAITING TO BE USED! USE IT! USE IT ALL BEFORE YOU FORGET ABOUT IT!”

Yeah, I know, I’m fun to hang around when I’m in one of those moods.

But I usually don’t  work that into conversation because people already think I’m weird for examining their clothing if I think it’s cool, so I’ve learned not to push it.

Seriously, though, my brain is like a constant filter for things. I walk by people all the time and wonder about them. What are they going through? Do their outsides match their insides – are they composed but really falling apart? Are they secretly really together but just looking like they’re having an off day? Where are they from? Where are they going? What have they been through that they don’t want people to know/want people to know? I love talking to people when I can truly connect with them because I just want to KNOW. I want to soak up different life experiences and empathize or learn or whatever. Admittedly I’m shy in social situations (don’t believe what anyone tells you otherwise), but I also love just hanging back and listening to people talk or watching them interact and go about their experiences. To me it’s tragic that we walk by hundreds of people every day – hundreds of stories going on all around us that we’ll never know. It’s like ignoring every book in a library, constantly, every day of our lives.

I realize this tends to be looked on as a romanticized view-point. I am the person who will go for a walk and be poking around bushes and flowers and wondering what I could do with those in a story. I may have nearly gotten run over laying flat on the pavement photographing a sewer drain. One of the bigger ideas I’ve ever had started when I was out jogging and the song ‘Tin Machine’ came on, I started wondering about what would happen if someone built a rocket in their backyard, and before I knew it I was sprinting home to get to pen and paper (I will probably never run that fast again in my entire life). That one little walk spawned a huge series idea that I’m currently working up a proposal for.

Maybe I just look for things more. Maybe I’m wired differently. I don’t know.

But if you really want an in-depth, blow-by-blow, disgusting look into how my mind works, have I got a post for you….

At the beginning of July I went to see Motley Crue and Alice Cooper play with a friend. Thank God that friend has known me a while – we’ve done shows together, they’re familiar with my costume work, they know how I tend to get super intrigued by everything. And that I tangent. A lot. Even when I’m supposed to shut up and enjoy myself on a casual night out. To be fair, it was needed. I’ve been in a…not dry spell creatively, but I’ve been a little more hesitant to work on things with some things that have been going on. If anything, seeing the show made me really excited to get back to my own stuff and try different things. So this would be an unfiltered look at my brain as I try to just have a night out.

No seriously. I have these moments all the time. It gets worse when both the design and writer side of my brain go off at once, hold hands, and skip down the mental lane together screaming like complete lunatics. So, in no particular order, this is a glimpse into Selah’s thoughts during both acts. The scary thing is this is just partial brain activity – I was also fully present and enjoying the actual performances, themselves. Yeah, I wonder about me, too.

During Alice Cooper:

I can’t believe I’m finally getting to see Alice after trying for like six tours-oh, that’s a nice coat.

That one is too…oh, his movement style reminds me of Sinatra….

Wow his voice has held up so well…


I could make that…I could make that, too…I could make all of that…geez what I’d give to work on this show…

Wait…what was he wearing two seconds ago? How many times has he changed? NOOO, I CAN’T REMEMBER ALL THE OUTFITS…


Oh, I love this song…this is so good, I’m so glad I’m here..

Yes, freaky psycho nurse! There needs to be more of those.

Oh, I don’t know this song…I…whoa…great performance art…I’m actually a little uncomfortable…AWESOME…

He has a stalkabout. Oh my gawd he has a stalkabout. It is GORGEOUS AND I WANT ONE. Actually, I’ve worked on similar stuff…I might be able to pull that off…if I did something that tall I wonder if I could collapse it so it could fit in my car…



(insert speculation about how much time it would take to change over the set and what all would need to be set pre-show here)

(insert complete admiration for Alice, his performance skills, his guitarist, all his band, his voice, and just everything here).

During Intermission my friend laughed because apparently my brain to mouth filter is not fantastic when I’m excited, and they are fully aware how I now want all of Alice Cooper’s clothes, but fitted to a female style. Or how I just want to work for Alice Cooper. Much appreciation was to be had.

I should probably also preface this with the disclaimer that as much as I like sewing things in general, I have a soft spot for really cool men’s wear. For one, I love a dude that can rock a suit. A well-tailored suit is unbeatable. Beyond that… I don’t know why – with a lot of the horror events and more Gothic things I’ve done, a lot of that end of things got passed to me, and it just became a thing I really like doing. I like Gothic style stuff, I like rock-style wear, I find a lot of men’s scene wear more challenging and interesting than the female equivalents, maybe I’m just really heterosexual in my design choices…I have no idea.

This is probably all just a weak attempt to defend my brain for the following…

During Motley Crue:

(Admittedly, as embarrassing as this is, the first like three minutes my brain was probably something like: OKAY THIS IS IT. CRUE CRUE CURE AAAAAAAAAAAAH!!! Don’t judge me. I can string words together, I swear. I was way worse when I saw Bowie live, at any rate).

Love the set…love all of this..this is so awesome…

Oh wow, Nikki’s coat is so cool…I could probably recreate that easily…hrm… (insert Selah leaning around people and trying to jump up and down behind people to get a good view here).

Love this song, and that song, and oh they’re playing all that I hold dear…

Wait…No, Nikki! Don’t take your coat off yet, I…what are you DOING!? PUT YOUR CLOTHES BACK ON, SIXX, I MUST EXAMINE THEM!!!!***

Well, his pants are really cool, too, wait…DON’T GO TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE STAGE!! WHERE ARE YOU GOING, NIKKI?! I MUST KNOW ABOUT YOUR PANTS!!!!! DAMMIT SOMEONE HAD BETTER GET GOOD PICTURES OF YOUR PANTS OR I WILL NOT BE HAPPY! (I also might have screamed that one out loud and had the people around me looking at me like I was some alien creature come to earth before they quietly put space between us)

Well, okay, I like Vince’s vest, too. I’ll see what I can see about that.

(insert random growling and demonic noises when Vince eventually sheds his vest and Selah still can’t see the details. Mick’s coat was cool but I’ve done a lot of similar variations like it, and as much as I try to remember, I have no clue what Tommy was wearing. Apparently my brain just assumes he wears his drum kit everywhere or goes naked or something…)

***yes, I know, I’m probably one of the few women in their history that has been deeply offended when Motley Crue has removed clothing. To be fair, this really doesn’t have much to do with them – I just love the clothes. It’s probably also not a good thing that I would probably take off with a lot of that if I was able, if only for the time it would take me to sketch it out and pattern it. Then I’d give it back, maybe…if I hadn’t taken it apart first or something.

At some point my friend and I commiserated that I’d already worked a lot with the dancers’ type of clothing, so that’s one more tick on the ‘I could so figure this out’ list.

At one point there were paper lanterns floating up from the river behind the venue, so this thought process happened:

I wonder what those are. Is something going down at the river? A lot of people are confused looking at them…I wonder if this is like some signal…

(A plane or something flew by at that point and the people around us were really kind of unsettled and not sure what was going on above us)

Wow, what if like that was all signalling the end of the world and it dropped something that turned us all to zombies, or some interdimensional beings just like came forth and captured all of us or ran wild taking over this part of town….

………………………………………I wonder if the band would be in on it or not…..

…………………………………………………..that really would work for that one idea I want to develop…..(insert desperate, quick plot-planning here)

I also really need to get In the Red re-shopped and out there again…


So yeah…to my credit there was a lot of commenting about the show, and I was truly paying attention – it’s more like watching them perform made my brain just explode and suddenly fire on all its burners.

Amazingly enough, though, this didn’t happen when Mick Mars was doing his solos…it was hypnotic and my brain went blessedly blank for a few moments. Apparently I just need that as a life option all the time or something. I was also pretty chill during the final number, because there was SO MUCH going on. Like I said, it was a fantastic show that also gave me a lot to think about.

So yeah, where do I get my ideas?

Where don’t I get them?






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