Thursday, March 23, 2006

Fame and Fortune (Conclusion)

Today's magic word is "focus." One of my larger problems is my inability to maintain a consistent focus. There are just so blasted many things that fascinate me, and nowhere near time and energy enough to pursue them all.

For example, is some quantum alternate universe I stuck it out in radio, and am now co-hosting a daily public radio program with my fellow UW-RF alum, Cathy Wurzer. In another, I stayed in the serious music business and am still out in Hollywood, doing film scores with my old friend and sometime collaborator, D.J. Olsen. In yet another I got really serious about rock 'n' roll, and like Tom the Bass Player, died of liver failure in my mid-30s.

Some paths are less-traveled for good reason. God Speed, old friend.

I'm a fair hand with a camera; one of my alternate selves is still out there somewhere, trying to eke out a living as a freelance photojournalist. I'm a lousy cartoonist but a good technician; maybe in some parallel world, Pete Wagner and I finally managed to launch that little animation and video production house we often talked about. And in some really distant alternate universe, I actually figured out how to make a living out of sailing around the world...

I did not intend to become a sci-fi writer. In point of fact, at the same time as I was writing the short stories that would become my first professional sales, I was also chasing grants and commissions as a composer, and working for Passport Designs as part of the team that wrote the MIDI 1.0 spec. All my musician friends were amazed when I showed up with my first magazine publication -- and then irritated, as I insisted on explaining that the great thing about writing fiction was that you didn't have to recruit players, book a hall, rehearse, or perform a story.

Perhaps this long discourse would make more sense if you could see my office. It's half office, half multitrack recording studio. And there are camera bodies and lenses everywhere.

My point is: while I've done many things, and had some measure of success in nearly all of them, I can't help but wonder where I'd be now if I'd really concentrated on one of them. So as the discussion here turns to the idea of putting out fiction in audio form, I can't help but think that once again, here is a great opportunity to lose focus.

Oh, I'd start out with the best of intentions, of course, but I know how my process works. Five minutes into reading the story, that frustrated little studio producer in the back of my head would pipe up with the observation that the scene would work better with some sound effects. And this next scene really needs a little ambient music. And the action scene that starts on page 5; that really needs some nice wet reverb and a stereo pan to the right. And my God, in chapter 2, you just cannot read that part, you need to find a middle-aged woman to be the voice of that character...

And pretty soon, we're back to needing to recruit players, book a hall, rehearse, and perform the story. And we're not getting any new fiction written.

Your final thoughts and comments?