A year ago, I wrote "Losing Dumbledore," in tribute to David Marocco, the principal of the school I attended from 4th grade through senior year. Here, I want to write down some of the things I learned in those years.
A few weeks ago, the music store I work at got a weighted keyboard. I have a complicated relationship to piano; I was never dedicated to practicing enough and while I love playing piano, I struggled to learn to read music. For many years, I was almost exclusively committed to playing guitar and ukulele. Even after I reached an uneasy truce with piano, it felt like a bit of a foreign instrument that I couldn't quite understand (and therefore couldn't properly enjoy). But... there was a keyboard. Right there. So I started playing.
Back in the day (think 1400-1600), artists were hired by patrons to make stuff for them, either by commission or by salary. Your patron might pay you month to month and then ask you to make specific pieces, or you might work on a case-by-case basis (the Sistine Chapel's ceiling was one such commissioned work). In every version, patrons had a lot of control of what got made because (in most cases) they were the sole patron. With Patreon, the system is flipped: you can support artists and creators for as little as a $1 a month, and we the creators can keep making stuff and growing as individuals and artists.
My fiction isn't about pretty people doing pretty things, and even more rarely is it about Christian people doing Christian things-- usually, it tackles questionable characters making questionable decisions (either objectively, as in "Synesthesia", or by getting caught up in really terrible situations, as in "Thorn"). Sometimes, there's an element of horror, or mystery, or the toss-up between inevitability and agency. A lot of well-meaning Christians in my life have asked why: why write messy work? Why muddy the waters? Why not inspire?
It's a tired cliche: success is hard to define. It's also a truth universally acknowledged that everyone has an idea of what success means. Money, relationships, personal fulfillment, product, promotion, and a host of other things usually go into it. Generally, growth is tied up in success as well-- "getting a boyfriend" becomes "getting a husband" becomes "having kids" becomes "sending them to college;" promotions never stop; there's never too much money (for most of us).
One of the parts of being out of college (and not having returned to one as a teacher) is that I no longer have a summer. Sure, I will be returning to teaching at an annual theatre summer camp, but it's not the same thing as having months off, dedicated to doing something different than what I do nine months out of the year. There are summers I wasted and summers I didn't, and so I've put together this blog post of ways I'm glad I spent summers, with notes on things that might not apply to everyone. No one actually thinks doing nothing is the right idea unless they really, really need to.
When it comes to community and societal solutions to problems, there's an impulse to find the Answer™. There's a notion that, if only we can find the right fix to the problem, it will go away, permanently. The other side (and, frankly, it doesn't matter what side) doesn't have actual solutions -- they have "band-aids," tiny, meaningless fixes that aren't going to cause real change.