I’ve been very silent the past quarter, and I thought New Year’s Eve would be a good time to post a little update to friends, family and members of the Academy.
It’s been quite a year.
In the mid 2000’s I set a seven year life plan.
From 1998-2011 I ran Community Interactive Theatre project that took the greatest part of my time and energy. From schlock to high art, it was a priority. I had coaxed the project to a financial breakeven point over six years, but it began to founder and slowly sink by the bow after striking the iceberg of the endless series of disappointments that is now generally referred to as “The Great Recession” of 2005-2010.
As I fought off foreclosure on my house largely due to game-generated debts, I realized that while I had learned a great deal from running the project, I also realized that it tied my hands in many ways that were unfair to the other people in my life, and limited my ability to look at other, wider-ranging work.
I planned to salvage the project from collapse, prune it to financial viability, turn a stable organization over to the members to run by 2010, and spend 2011 writing and preparing a “Masterpiece” end to this phase of my career in Interactive theatre to be run in April 2012.
I’ve never respected temperamental artists who walk out on a loyal community because of a few downturns, or because they’ve ceased to have a personal need for the community. The arts group achieved full independence in fall of 2011…a little behind schedule…but who knew in 2006 that the Recession would last five years. Other groups have foundered in squabbling when the members took over responsibility for operations, but our turnover was worked out over two years, and resulted in a management system I believe has the capacity to endure for many years.
When I began working in interactive theatre in the early 90s, the first significant project I really drove was a drama based on the sinking of the RMS Titanic in April 1912. The story captivated me long before it included Kate Winslet’s tits, and our groundbreaking work was the first of its kind to focus on realistic period drama rather than a sort of “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” fantasia. Groundbreaking in its day the work had many flaws, and I hoped to create a completely new work for the 100th anniversary.
After that I’d planned to step away from Interactive Drama, spending the remainder of the year writing and assessing where I wanted to go from there.
To understand why I’m writing about a project that didn’t happen, it’s worth knowing that I am an extraordinarily proud and arrogant person, with a reputation for doing things…bar the losses…because I said I would. In the mid-90s my mortgage was in trouble because of losses sustained supporting major projects, and I went to the wall again to sustain operations in the onset of the recession, spending not only everything I had, but everything I could reasonably borrow as well.
Now…it may not escape you that this style of behavior, while colorful, flamboyant, and artistic is not exactly disciplined. It can be forgiven once or twice, when there is a need to drive, passion and the commitment take risks to make big things happen. But as a pattern it’s not the sort of thing that makes you say “this guy certainly knows how to lead.” By the beginning of 2011 I’d already cancelled the Titanic project, recognizing that even outstanding success would be a Pyrrhic victory at best. If you’re a friend or acquaintance, I hope you might join us on the weekend of April 14, when the household produces our annual Edwardian Tea followed by an adult afterparty…this year’s theme will be “going down on the Titanic.”
That has made 2011 a year of thought, learning and decision. The fact is that transition periods are hard. Retooling and changing directions can seem…directionless, and there is the desire for immediate short term payoffs. But from 1998-2010 I was driven on a bi-monthly cycle of short term payoff, and I realized that if 2011 was to be a watershed year for change it would require focus on the long term.
I completed a degree in Clinical Hypnotherapy in 2011 (though I won’t finish paying for it until 2012…not a cheap undertaking) I’d presented a few classes on erotic hypnosis in 2010, and for me one of the best ways to learn is by teaching. I realized that I knew a good bit about the general psychology of D/s which doesn’t seem to be “common knowledge” in any of the communities I’m involved in…though most bits and pieces of it are. There is an absence of a “unified field” approach to D/s. I resolved to do a full workshop on the psychological aspects of D/s/
I figured that two weeks was adequate time to prepare for the workshop, but as I got into the second week of four am nights, I realized there was a big problem…I had a lot more information than I could present in eight hours. Not just more but a lot more. I’d known that the issue would be culling down but the scope was…stunning.
I ended up with a handout that ran 120 pages. As handouts go it’s not badly written, but it was no more than that. But as I held it in my hand, I realized I had a core of something and a great deal of my future direction slewed into focus.
When I first came to D/s, I wanted something like a handbook to tell me how to do it. There are books on Traditions, Protocols, even technique. I found tons of online advice, most of it empirical. Some was obvious, some counterintuitive but useful, but sadly, a huge quantity of the “standard advice” particularly on M/s and particularly online was filled with bad and wrongheaded ideas or general asshattery. I realized I was lucky to live in a region where good influences and a high level of education have produced a comparatively enlightened culture.
I wanted to know the answer to the question “Why do humans Dominate and submit, what is the point of it, and how do I make it work as something other than a roleplay game.”
There are plenty of two sentence aphorisms…but I wanted a deep exploration of the mental processes that lead to masochism, sadism, dominance, submission, and a breakdown of every element of psychology that bore on these issues, written specifically from the perspective of D/s relationships.
It didn’t exist.
It does now.
I’ve written fiction novels before and submitted them for publication. I know roughly how long it takes to complete a fiction draft, and then a revision. So I predicted I’d be done by November 1…then December 1…then…
Nonfiction is a little different. A particular problem for me is that I detest pop writers who claim contrversial things like “matriarchal societies are more sexually permissive,” and then don’t tell you how they know that. Are they an anthroplogist? Did they hear that in some class in 1980…read it on the interwebz…is it still current thinking? Can I trust them? Let’s just say I believe in end notes…if an idea is controversial, a reader should be able to look it up and decide for themselves whether or not it rests on good authority.
I have high hopes to at least have a polished draft by mid February but it goes as fast as it goes.
The Manuscript exists. 200,000 words of meticulous detail describing every major facet of human psychology that touches on D/s, along with a pragmatic framework for implementing D/s in a fashion that is actually consistent with what we know about how people think and act.
But…there’s always a but….
I finished my second draft and realized that I had a document which has all the information I want. It also has all the warmth, charm, and readibility of: The World Bank: Agriculture and Development in Rural Subsaharan Africa – a financial overview.
I’m not stupid and I could not tell myself that this tedious pile of nearly a quarter million words was exciting to anyone. And if it’s not readable people aren’t going to read it no matter how valuable it is. A year or so ago, J. introduced me to Chip and Dan Heath’s work on making ideas stick…I’d heard of it peripherally before. I have a lot of time driving on my two hour commutes so I’ve been catching up on sciences reading by buying audible books on MP3…so I picked up their book and “read” it all the way through.
It was eye opening…gripping. I’d been doing a lot of things right…telling stories, anecdotes, little mysteries…I just needed to annihilate pretty much all the other words that weren’t those things and I’d be fine. The manuscript is full of little stories that were streamlined or paved over in favor of getting across “important ideas” and not using too many words. But those elements are what people love…moreover it’s how humans learn and remember.
It’s slow going, but I’ve loved the pages I’ve revised since mid December, and I can honestly say that there was not a page till that point that I really “loved” though I had a few clever jokes and felt some pages didn’t suck. It will be done when it’s done, but I won’t have to cringe as people read it and hope that the gravity of what I have to say will make up for the fact that reading it is only slightly less painful than a close perusal of the Manhattan White Pages. If they still have white pages.
So that’s what I did with my Thanksgiving, Christmas, and MLK holidays.
The coming year will be interesting. I’d hoped to hit the ground running in January with a book…its’ going to be late February or April. In time for the summer at least. A blockbuster hit. I wonder if I can get Martin Scorsese to direct…he makes the best fucking films….
The coming year should be interesting in more ways than one. People who know me know that I’m not one for wildly flamboyant predictions. But here are a few to start the New Year:
2012 will be the most explosive year in domestic events since 1968. Whichever side wins the election we will see more serious conflict than we have since Mayor Daley’s cops punched Dan Rather in the stomach inside the Democratic Convention Hall while the rest of his henchmen nightsticked kids outside the Chicago Hilton as they chanted “The whole world is watching.”
The whole world wasn’t watching then…it was gazing through a peephole at grainy black and white.
But it’s watching now…
From Sidi Bouzid in Tunisia, to Daraa in Syria, from Zuccotti Park to Oakland, in real time, moreso every day. There is loss of privacy for individuals…but also for states and corporations that once operated behind impentrable veils.
The world is changing. The Hacker Group Anonymous may piss off the Government. But they also faced down the Los Zetas drug cartel through a YouTube ultimatum and forced the return of one of their members. This is a strange new era.
Seemingly invincible Russian leader Vladimir Putin was booed at an MMA fight between Fyodor Emelianenko and American Jeff Monson…and despite spin control attempts Putin was lacerated on Facebook. The very idea that Putin might be damaged by Facebook is senseless in the context of Stalin-era politics. The World is changing.
The invention of the printing press around 1440 took about a century to spread through Europe. Few scholars seriously doubt it was a major driving factor behind the the Age of religious wars (c.1560-98) which essentially marks the end of the Medieval world and the birth of the Modern Era. The 95 Theses might have languished in obscurity if it were not for moveable type.
What took 150 years from 1450-1600 may happen in a fraction of that time now. The Web is about sixteen years old to most people. We knew it would change the world in ways beyond our imagining and that change is coming. Watch for it. 2012, by nature of the sharpening Eurozone Crisis, and the US Presidential election will be a watershed year…