From October 24th through October 31st I went on an eight-day storytelling tour with my friend Chad Houseman
. Here are my reflections:
There’s an inherent fear of being called a hack or a fraud, of people saying: You don’t deserve this. You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t have the credentials of a writer
…so why the hell are you acting like one
I don’t blame these doubts; in fact, I applaud them. I mean, look at what I’m doing: trying to upend an entire literary lineage that says you are only worthy once you’ve been published; only once you have tangible product with your name down the spine; only once you’ve been granted permission
But I’m not waiting for the green light, not any longer, nor will I succumb to the status quo of making imitative art, because literature is falling behind, becoming second-rate entertainment when compared to other titans of the industry.
It’s wilting. And I don’t like watching it writhe.
So now, more than ever, with instant-gratification shifting the physiology of consumers’ minds, writers need to adhere to a different agenda to remain relevant. This means rebuilding an antiquated business model formally based on arbitrary approval.
To me this recalibration means having courage, being intrepid, and taking a chance on you
. It’s not always easy, I know, swimming through a sea of rejection, but, if you can believe it, we can start restructuring how this ship is being sailed. To be a writer, now, means that we get to utilize the same opportunities as other entertainers (comedians, actors/actresses, musicians) thriving in the public eye; we need not restrict ourselves from the tools before us: video, audio, graphic design, spoken word, touring, interviews.
Therefore, I toured—without an agent, without a book, without permission—because we live in a society hungry for authenticity. Because, amongst all the hollow content clogging our cultural bandwidth, we are searching for a genuine connection, for someone to step into our homes—into our living rooms—and say, if you’ve got the time I’d like to tell you a story
And it was well received. For roughly two hours each night my friend Chad Houseman
and I would alternate back and forth between my oration and his music, touching on topics of creativity, self-worth, relationships, travel, and finding personal restoration. We sat in quaint living rooms, from historic homes in Springfield, MO to a group of anarchists' safe haven in St. Louis, and invited anyone in attendance to share a piece as well, whether it was a story, poem, or song. Most nights ended late, with witching-hour chats or spontaneous jam sessions, and most days started early with breakfast meet-ups and long drives.
I learned a lot—which stories are resonating, how to be a better reader, the power of face-to-face connections, the benefits of performing with artists from other mediums—and certainly would like to tour again (I’m thinking the West Coast in the spring). The only drawback is that the tour failed to be financially feasible; I need to tinker with the model somehow to ensure, in the future, that such a thing can be sustainable.
Most importantly, however, as is the nature of the road, I made some new really charming friends.