Welcome to my adventures and experiments in creativity. Where writing is like running: sometimes I know where I'm going, and sometimes I see where the mood takes me.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Master Of My Domain

Like the characters in the Seinfeld episode that this blog title references, it is time to put my money on the table and declare, “I’m out!” (Oh, and the episode in question was broadcast many years before Dragons’ Den started, so you can stop with the Duncan Bannatyne impersonations).

Strictly speaking, there is no actual money involved. I made my investment last year, without help from any Scottish leisure-industry tycoons, so that is all I stand to lose. It is an easy loss to accept, and therefore an easy decision to make. And yet, at the same time, a difficult decision to see through. Because in my head right now, aimed with precision at my conscience, is a mock television advert for charity:

“Less than £1 a month could save this baby – brought into the world a year ago, full of life and promise. Can you spare the cost of one chocolate bar every month to save it from being cruelly left to die?”

And the mock advert is correct. I could easily spare £8 for the re-registration of the domain name I so proudly purchased last summer. But what would be the point? It would mean another twelve months of staring at the browser bookmark for www.indiecinematour.com and wondering what, if anything, it might have been. It would mean another twelve months of pretending I might suddenly develop the time and resources to fully grow it into the amazing website I envisaged.

Maybe five years ago, before responsibilities and pensions and normal stuff like that came along, it could have happened. Whether the 23-year-old me was the person to make it happen is a whole other question, and one I’m not going to explore here. But the truth is, the 28-year-old me does not have the fuel to fire that growth. I need to concentrate my energies differently. The last six to eight months have been creatively difficult, with even simple things eluding me. It has taken that long just to begin understanding how to adjust to the life I have and still try to create. All the while, poetry has not jumped across synapses and blog post ideas have failed to spark.

But I have continued to read…

And I have continued to enjoy Milo McLaughlin’s ‘Clear Minded Creative’ blog. I’ve mentioned him in these pages before, and doubtless I shall do so again, but it was a few recommendations from Milo that subtly altered the way I was thinking. The driving force was a review of a book by Chris Gillebeau entitled The $100 Start Up. Mr. Gillebeau is the type of chap who talks about ‘world domination’ and other such bombastic ideas that tend to fatigue my simple personality.

Mercifully, his book turned out to be free of such grandstanding. Instead, it was full of sensible business advice for the internet age and case studies of people leading whatever life they choose because their creativity has an outlet that costs virtually nothing to start and maintain, but brings in abnormal sums of money every month. A lot of these lucky/talented/undeterred by failure types are American, which is a point I made to Milo. And his response was very sensible: “If you do start your business, aim it at Americans.” That’s what makes him clear minded and me not!

Nevertheless, The $100 Start Up did generate a few potential ideas and offered plenty of food for thought. I remain sceptical that my tendency for sporadic and diverse creative ideas could be harnessed into a lucrative business idea, but hopefully one day I might distil whatever talent I possess into something more discernible. I thought the cinema tour might be that idea, but what the book demonstrated is that anything requiring time and money to travel around is never going to be sustainable.

With unlimited free time and a friendly bank balance I could have happily made a hobby of touring the country visiting all the cinemas I intended. To generate regular website content in my spare time, I now realise, was never going to be a realistic goal. At best, maybe it would have generated some writing work on the subject. It could have made a book perhaps, and hopefully one that the cinemas would have stocked in their shops, but that would have needed much more travelling than I ever got round to. At the end of August 2011, I wrote the following about the new website:

“I’m a patient person; I still believe in “good things come to those who wait” as much as I now understand how I need to make things happen for myself. Perhaps the next stage is to learn how much patience is too much patience, and how long is too long before realising what the next stage after that is. This is such a new way of thinking for me that I still can’t quite smother that one niggling thought – what if it doesn’t work at all, what if it is a complete waste of time? I guess the only answer to that is – I have to make sure it does, and that it isn’t.”

The ‘Indie Cinema Tour’ blog, then, is to be no more. The $100 Start Up has helped me realise what the next stage might be, though as I have a day job I currently enjoy, I’m not envisaging a wholesale lifestyle change. Much as I’m disappointed that ‘the tour’ hasn’t become what I wanted (or resulted in as many cinema visits as I hoped), can I say the whole thing was “a complete waste of time”?

No, I don’t believe I can (or, indeed, should).

Crucially, although the dedicated online showcase for it may no longer exist, the content is mine. It will live on; remain within my soul, even if otherwise exists only on the hard drive of my laptop. I will have the experience, the pride and the satisfaction of creating it in the first place. I had the pleasure of sharing it with (and receiving feedback about it from) my fellow attendees on the writing course I completed last year. I would have liked a larger audience to read it, but I doubt there are many people in the world who can say they are genuinely satisfied with the numbers that discover their work.

I will allow the site to see it out its remaining two months, and then have a tidy up. Maybe post some of the content here for a bit of online posterity, but delete the Twitter account, delete the e-mail account (and its endless capacity for spam comments) and quietly wave the site goodbye. And then I’ll move onto the next idea, richer for the domain I once had and ready to build a new one.

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