Categories
process

Welcome to the Conversation

Last week I posed a question without answering it: “What is the conversation you want to be having?” (or, “What conversation do you want to be a part of?”).

I drafted an answer as part of that post before realizing that (a) the question part was plenty long and deserved to stand on its own, and (b) my answer would be a long and rambling one. The answer wasn’t the second half of one blog post, and it isn’t this blog post. The answer would be all the blog posts to follow, all of the work to follow. 

But I do have ideas about this conversation I want to be a part of. It is sure to evolve — as all sustained conversations do — but for starters it will be a conversation about art and commerce, surviving vs. thriving as an artist, collaboration, creativity, politics and friendship. It’s about everything we wrestle with when we struggle to express ourselves: honesty, misunderstanding, anxiety, silence, noise, attention. These ideas are coming together now as I work to build out this website as an intentional coming-together of commercial work and artistic collaborations in to dialogue on this website in order to strengthen both.

But this conversation will also be about history, books, film, and music. It will be a conversation that jumps from storytelling to practical advice, and from cultural criticism to poetry.  

How we talk about ourselves and what we talk about lead to different relationships, different outcomes. Where we talk is just as important. Picture the different modes of conversation in each of these places: 

  • a loud restaurant
  • the back row of a hushed movie screening
  • in bed
  • walking the city
  • on a stage with two chairs before a large audience 
  • in a Facebook thread, or on Twitter
  • from a high window to the sidewalk below
  • in essays published months or years apart

I arrange my apartment to be a welcoming place for conversation. There are books, art and plants surrounding comfy places to sit. When I host a group of friends, I make coffee and set out snacks. These are choices that allow the conversation I want to be having to take place. This website is also an intentional space. It takes a bit of effort to get here from your usual hangouts, the din on Twitter, the hurly-burly of Facebook, so thanks for making your way over. Hang up your coat. Join the conversation.

Thanks for reading!

If you like posts like this, there are a number of ways you can support Erik and Future Cartographic.

Categories
process

What is the Conversation You Want To Be Having?

This was my friend Danny’s question to me years ago when I was struggling to balance my identity as both an artist and a consultant. To find clients, it seemed necessary to put my most commercially valuable experience out there front and center. Coding, project management, Photoshop and digital marketing were far more likely to pay the rent than experiments in situationist-inspired speculative fiction. If I could only get enough attention for the work I was not excited about, then I could start doing the work I was excited about. Or so went my faulty reasoning.

A few years later, I was having one of the kinds of conversations I want to be having. I was talking to a new friend, Garnette, at a writers’ residency. He was pressing me on certain things that I felt were holding me back as a writer. The constant need to sell my more commercial skills came up again. But I also spoke of the tiny market for creative writing and how this scarcity crept in to the writing process, even when my instinct was to be more experimental. Though almost no one is making a living off writing, it is hard not to keep in mind conventions about acceptable styles, word counts and book formats. Garnette’s advice was twofold. One: write the book you want to write. And two: writers succeed as part of a conversation. The conversation is the goal. Publishing, relationships, opportunities all flow out from the conversations you engage with. The most important question to answer is, “what conversation do you want to be a part of?”

Thanks for reading!

If you like posts like this, there are a number of ways you can support Erik and Future Cartographic.