The Origin of a Project

An explanation of the evolution and ensuing insanity of a Project

When I went away to college, my greatest fear was that I’d be forgotten – by my friends, my family, anyone who meant anything to me. Creating projects, writing letters, sending things in the mail – these were the ways in which I stayed in touch and, hopefully, in their minds.

It started out simply enough. A theme was chosen – usually whatever interested or intrigued me – whatever the universe was whispering at that moment. Sometimes it started with a humble piece of stationary – the colors and designs evoking something in me, something that reminded or recalled a feeling, a memory, a notion pointing to something more substantial. From there the world would drop subtle hints if I was on the right path – and my tastes would shift accordingly – a new cologne, a new pair of shoes, a new haircut – all in keeping with the journey and discovery I was making. A definitive topic was fleshed out, and soon everything else followed – a signature font was determined for the writing, a color and design scheme was created, and the regular arrival of a story, a letter, a musical mix, a poem – all tied into the same theme. Almost everything was sent in the mail when I first started these projects, utilizing the old-fashioned and increasingly-quaint postal service. The postage fees were, and remain, exorbitant, if only for the sheer amount of material being sent out. (It’s interesting to note that when I began these projects, back in 1993, stamps cost half as much as they do now.) The cost never mattered much, since I knew how special it felt to receive something that wasn’t a bill or a credit card offer in the mail.

Those first few projects were admittedly rather rough around the edges – the raw stuff of learning and finding my way, and if I were to look back at them today, it would be with considerable embarrassed amusement. Luckily I don’t often look back on finished work, (despite rumors of excessive ego and self-obsession).

Eventually, these projects grew more intricate and extravagant, with the promotional material often overshadowing the work itself or, more accurately, becoming part of the project – entwined inexorably with the same look, the same feel – only now there accompanying CDs, photography, DVDs, multi-media explosions – and requisite celebratory kick-off parties that sometimes seemed like entire projects unto themselves.

Still, there’s something to be said for doing things in a simple way – and this latest “project” hopefully harkens to a time when writers were published in small weekly or monthly publications – a time when Charles Dickens produced ongoing installments to keep readers entertained and coming back for more. At its heart, writing is a way to get closer to people. To this day, whenever I feel the need to re-connect, to re-establish the bonds of friendship, of love, I sit down and write a letter. At its most basic, it’s a way to feel less alone.

One final caveat: this is raw stuff. As it was when I started doing projects, it’s all catch-as-catch-can ~ off the cuff, in the moment, with no room for perfection. There’s something exciting about letting it all pour out and just sending it along before any second-guessing. A sense of relevant immediacy lends a purity and honesty to the work that often gets watered down with meticulous editing and overproduction. I’ve never been one for major editing – I’ve come around over the years because that is when the bad bits can be excised and reworked – but my gut-instinct maintains that the first flush of words on paper is the most important. It is in that spirit that I send out these stories. They’re rough in spots, some wouldn’t work in any other real format or form, but they came directly from the well of my most pure inspiration.

Please don’t expect perfection – or even an attempt at something perfect – this is rough, raw, and bareback. It’s not a time to be safe. We plunge into it together – hand in hand –  and, darkness be damned, we’ll somehow prevail.

{Tomorrow, the 9th installment of ‘13’ ~ only on}

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