I don’t recall the year 2005 as being particularly enjoyable. I was an angry 30-something with few real successes under my belt, hungry for a change and low on resources. I stopped freelancing for the Riverfront Times to write a book, and returned to cooking in restaurants I hated. I was completely burned out on St. Louis. I felt caged. I was painfully aware of the low ceiling and tight walls that seemed to prevent people in St. Louis from thinking outside the box and achieving things they couldn’t imagine. Life had become a predictable pattern of behaviors and associations that meant nothing to me. I drank excessively and behaved badly. It became clear that I needed to go somewhere and do something, because St. Louis was killing me. It was breaking my heart and eroding my soul.
But I had always been of the belief that it didn’t matter where I was, that I could create success, meaning and fulfillment anywhere. I see that now as a mentality of convenience, a narrative lasso. I used it as an excuse to stay where I was for a long time, because a big part of me was terrified of leaving all of the people I knew and loved to make a fresh start in another country. Sometimes it does matter where you are. Sometimes you do need to leave certain places and people in order to grow. So, I left. And I was often sad and lonely while I was away.
Now I’m returning to the City of St. Louis. The dizzying events that took place in Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Bosnia and the United States are the source material for my forthcoming novel and blog series, The Art of Self Exile. The title may sound familiar to some of you, and that’s because the story has been in development for 10 years. I’ve floated the blog series publicly a few times, only to decide that it wasn’t ready, or that I wasn’t ready. We’re both ready now. The circle is complete. I hope you’re ready too.
Though the book will probably reach your hands and eyes in its final form this year, I’m rolling out the blog series in an ongoing, non-linear fashion, to stretch beyond the book’s release. This storytelling method is inspired by the work of a few of my favorite film directors, and it gives me some latitude to reach into hidden corners of the narrative as I become aware of them. Rather than over-explain the creative process, it’s probably better to simply launch this multifaceted entity into the water. Here’s the first post.
There are a few rules to the game, though. These rules will probably change several times without notice. I like to think of shifting boundaries as “meta content,” and it is my game, after all.
With that said…
The Art of Self Exile blog series will be published mostly as members-only content. That means the game is pay-to-play. My current thinking suggests that I will make some posts publicly available at first, then pull them behind the pay wall as another blister of narrative erupts. The good news is that by paying the nominal annual fee to have access to this shape-shifting story series, you’ll receive access to all other member downloads I offer. And, yes, that means you’ll get a free download of the final e-book version of The Art of Self Exile.
It’s not a bad deal. For a little money, you get to enjoy a wild hell ride of a neverending story about a cook’s tour of Europe. I get to eat, pay rent, and continue to publish my work directly to you. Here’s where to become a member.
That was Part I of this announcement.
I’ve been pretty busy with some big client projects the last couple of months, and my publishing and podcasting frequency has suffered. Outside work has slowed down, so I’m back on my bullshit.
Moving back to South St. Louis puts me back in close range of the city’s creative class, also known as my dear friends. I’m no longer angry. I no longer drink. What that means for you is that I’m doing some of my best work now, and that rather than ask our most interesting artists, musicians, writers, activists and oddballs to haul their asses out to the lifeless suburbs to appear on my General Concerns podcast, most of them will now be able stroll on over to my new studio in a matter of minutes. Ka-POW! My podcast series is instantly more compelling, and you are the fortunate beneficiary. So far I’ve got members of Bug Chaser, The Potomac Accord and Yowie on tap to appear, plus author and editor-in-chief at Out in STL, Chris Andoe.
I know. All white dudes in that list. I’ll work on it.
That podcast series is published for free and I don’t have any plans to put it behind a paywall. But it still costs me time, energy, and server space to put it out there for you, and so I hope you’ll consider joining other supporters of independent media by becoming a member and providing some resources for me to sustain and grow these humble endeavors. I’m doing honest work in providing informative and entertaining content here. I think that’s worth supporting, wherever any of us see it.
That’s about all for now. Thanks for reading. I’m going to get back to producing things for you.