Sunday, May 17, 2015

My Creative Endeavors

This blog is primarily devoted to my writing, and writing has honestly been may main creative outlet since about 2010.  That year, I published "Basecraft Cirrostratus" and also wrote the first draft of my third (and yet-unpublished) novel, "One Could Do Better."

Ten years earlier, I had originally wanted to be an actor.  I had been involved in community theater since 1995 and thought I could make it as a professional.  I went as far as attending a high school for the performing arts, the Academy for the Arts Sciences and Technology in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  During this time I also began to experiment with writing, initially writing short plays and sonnets before attempting to collaborate with an artist in the UK on a novel (a project that later fell through, but inspired and trained me for later efforts as a novelist).

Ultimately, I began to have misgivings about how much effort it took for very little chance at success, and when I asked myself if that was something I'd like to do for the rest of my life, the answer was no.  When I signed up for Richmond the American International University in London to study literature and history, it was a foregone conclusion that I wouldn't go back to the theater.

Of course, there were other factors to my decision besides the poor career prospects actors face; I was starting to explore writing, I was very much in love with several people in the UK at various times, and in truth I felt a strong, visceral attachment to the place that I never did fully understand.  I spent a lot of time wandering the English cities of the north and east looking for medieval remnants and the Southwestern countryside, looking for a village that only existed in my mind.  This restless wandering, driven from some part of myself I never properly understood at the time, is described in "One Could Do Better."

During that time I also became an avid photographer, and I began work on "The Goldenlea." At last, though, the old specter of career prospects raised its head again and I began to question my choice to study history.  When I went back to the States in 2005, I tried to sell my photography but did poorly, and nearly stopped work on "The Goldenlea."

I took a one-year Microsoft server course at Horry-Georgetown Technical College which landed me a job at a small computer shop in Surfside, South Carolina run by a man who celebrated skilled individuals, but hated actually paying them (but must have been a huge Bush donor as he had mementos from the campaign all over his office including autographed pictures).  To date that was the only job I ever got with my now-obsolete training which proved that my one attempt to learn a "marketable skill" was a complete disaster.

Shortly thereafter I landed a job in Las Vegas editing videos semi-professionally.  I had made a series of short videos on YouTube including a re-dubbed version of "Voyage Dans La Lune" that ended up getting some small attention in the national press (the LA Times called it "Trippy.").  I also did some videos for Italo-Swiss producer and musician Salvatore Cusato, also known as Casco (including the long-awaited official video for his 1983 hit "Cybernetic Love").  But after Vegas, the video editing gigs dried up and I found myself delivering pizzas in North Little Rock.

It was there that I really began to turn my attention fully to writing, even as I tried to focus my attention on making as much as I could without a college degree after finding the faculty at University of Arkansas Little Rock very disagreeable and belligerent.  I had studied anthropology there and returned to my studies in 2010-2011, the faculty having now forgotten about how they felt about me, before relocating to Oregon.

2010 was also the year I published "Basecraft Cirrostratus," and wrote "One Could Do Better," and I began to feel like writing was something I was finally showing some promise with after years of trying to get something out the door.  It also seemed to be the one medium I did well enough to make at least small achievements consistently in, where I've found only brief, fleeting achievements in nearly every area of creative expression.

2013 saw my shift from anthropology to history as an emphasis on what will soon become a degree in social science due to the wide variety of subjects I have studied in trying to find an academic discipline that didn't frustrate me too much.  I finally grew tired of trying to make myself fit into whatever might pay and decided to study what I like, after so many years of fighting that decision.  That year also marked a shift in my writing toward exploring Gnostic themes, science fiction, and competing narratives of identity after discovering the works of Philip K. Dick at a very difficult period in my life.  While that won't be the whole of my output, and I'm going to need a break from it after I finish revisions on "The Linen Butterfly," it's a genre I intend to revisit from time to time.

And likewise with writing; it seems to be the only constant throughout the last fourteen years or so.  It doesn't pay very well and it has taken me a long time to hone myself to the point where I feel confident promoting myself as a writer, but I suppose all these years of experimentation have taught me that life's too short not to study what you want.  I've got a lot of water under the bridge now, but also a lot of life experience to draw on for my fiction that I didn't have when I first sat down to pen the first words of "The Goldenlea" in 2003.

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