In 2013, I was able to spend a couple months at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada. I’ll never forget my time there. On my daily walk up the mountain from home to the theatre, the cold, fresh air did not only clear my lungs but also my mind. Each time I stepped outside through stage door, I would bump into deer, casually sifting through the underbrush surrounding the centre. Who knows, maybe this was just the deers’ way of sneaking in to graze on a bit of culture without paying for a ticket?
Stepping back into the building, I had the privilege to observe a myriad of cultural events backstage. Entertainment professionals generously shared their experiences with me. I learned heaps about theatre management and marvelled at the strong sense of collaboration I found at the Banff Centre. Some day, I need to return there. They offer residencies for writers and I imagine finishing one of my future creations surrounded by brisk mountain air, in one of my favourite places on Earth.
It’s always been my dream to live right next to the deep blue sea. There is something healing about gazing at the water’s surface, and something exciting about hearing the waves break when they arrive at the beach after their long journey across the sea… Currently at least part of my dream has come true. In this cozy little village, we’re indeed overlooking the ocean. Since it’s a river delta there is no surf and the water is muddy brown. But it’s a great start and I’m deeply grateful.
For four years, I entered this concrete fortress almost every day. What looks like an oppressive Orwellian government building is in fact the Dragone theater in Macau. A visionary creative endeavor was realized here: The House of Dancing Water. It truly is a show like no other. A fairy tale that rises from below the surface. Magic for ninety minutes. Until the princess and her lover disappear into the stygian depths, leaving the audience with a whiff of chlorine and a brief hope for a better tomorrow.
I experienced the creation of this masterpiece in 2010 and left after three years of operation in 2013. The larger-than-life show is still running strong. For me, this building holds a myriad of memories… good and bad. I believe this is where I so far experienced the steepest learning curve. I loved diving through the aquatic depths, loved working with an amazing, international team backstage. Five million gallons of water are hidden behind these walls. Whilst the audience revels in the mysteriousness of the theatrical spectacle unfolding before them, this body of water also holds surprises, drama, friendship, heart, passion, dreams, disappointment, and corporate politics. Whenever a large group of individuals unites forces to work towards a common goal, there is plenty of ambivalence. Nothing is ever perfect. Yet, looking back, I don’t regret a single minute.
In my latest article on TheatreArtLife, I share how and why I ended up self-publishing Paralian. What else can you do when your first publisher dies, the second gets arrested, and the big ones you dream about are not interested in a no-name like you. I imagined I’d show up at their doorstep and one of them would surely make me an offer, if only I pitched my book well enough… Of course it’s not that easy. Nothing worthwhile ever is. The truth is, I’ll have to keep on writing good books. Then maybe, if I really work my butt off, one day I’ll find a literary agent who believes in my work. And then, hopefully, this agent will find me a publisher who will say, “Yay! Thumbs up!” and will be interested in long-term cooperation… Read the full article here.
Not much new happening at this end. Am writing like mad whenever I get the chance. Little Fellini and I agree, come what may, we’ll try finishing this first draft by end of this year. Crazy ambitious but not impossible.
Ever since I began writing Paralian four years ago, my childhood dreams have come alive again. A storyteller is what I always wanted to be. I’ve longed to write and publish books for as long as I can remember.
Since I began doing just that, finding enough money and time to keep on writing has been a tight wire act. What day job should I take so I don’t get too disenchanted, too disillusioned about life? How can I commute with thousands of others every day, whilst at the same time remaining inspired, creative sparks lighting up my horizon like millions of fireflies on a warm summer’s night? How far can I reduce working hours to keep on writing but still be ok and provide for my family? Do I need to worry about being almost fifty years old, with no savings and no real life plan to speak of?
Mostly, I am following my gut. It is telling me, at this point I need not be concerned with financial success. It is telling me to ignore my age and live life to the fullest. I have a supportive partner who loves me no matter what and believes in me. This alone makes me wake up with a smile every single day and gives me strength. I need to keep up the momentum. No one who has played it safe has ever gotten anywhere. Being dedicated, focused, and trusting the process is essential. Working hard and never giving up on my dream will in the end make me happier than any material wealth ever could.
Paralian is a first book I can be proud of. I tapped into something magical while writing it. If I just keep going, I will be able to create a few more books over the years. Maybe, at some point, those books will even be sold in actual book stores with posters saying “coming soon” and people asking for the latest “Klenk”, then heading to a quiet corner to immerse themselves for a couple of hours. Maybe, some of them will even be unable to stop and read through the night, just to see what happens next.