The Fork in the Road

I’m at a fork in the road. Truthfully, I’ve been standing here a while, for several months in fact. One direction is lit up in bright neon. Down this road lies ambition, dreams and risk alike. The other is murkier, but I can sort of make out an alarm clock and getting old before my time. All my life, I have wanted to create and build things, from songs and photographs to a self-sustaining business. Creating jobs for other people is high on my wish list too. You’d think choosing a path would be easy, but it turns out, it’s not.

Creatively, I have reached the point where I really should hire a part time assistant, because my projects get more and more complex, as my ambition grows. Which is great, and the way it should go. Another Passion is the best example. What started as a side project grew into a priority, and instead of a one-man creativity blog, I wanted to build an Arts & Culture site with multiple contributors and high quality content, as well as a framework through which other, original projects could take root. And all of that is happening, slowly but surely. It’s pretty awesome.

But. Other things have made me reconsider many a plan and ambition. Most importantly Kelly’s cancer, the treatments and the toll all of that has taken on our household. A situation that makes life difficult, even if you’re not trying to make your own way and build a business. It’s made me realize, that if I really want to go down the neon lit path of risk and possible wonder, I need a better plan – and help.

Of course, while I’m busy working on said plan, Life keeps happening.

Kelly is not out of the woods yet, which means I still have to focus on supporting her more than anything. It’s not a chore or a duty, it’s a privilege, but it does drain a lot of energy of both the physical and emotional variety. I channel most of what I have left into Another Passion. And when there is nothing left at all, I hop on Minecraft and take a mental vacation.

On tough days, you might find me here in the Clearview Lounge, hanging in the bar or at the jukebox.

While standing at this fork in the road, I have been living off of my savings – leftovers from selling my apartment last year. There is still a little left, but not enough for another year of living like this. So I need to get that plan done, get my ducks in a row and buckle up (and whatever other clichés you can fit in) – or dial it all back and focus on work that pays me, instead of being paid for by me. But I’m not quite ready for that.

The one good thing I have to say about cancer, is that it puts everything in perspective. There’s a lot of little stuff I don’t sweat anymore, and I appreciate the good people in my life more than ever. Even on the tough days. For that very reason, I still want to build and create, and I still want to create jobs instead of just taking one.

These are interesting, and scary times.

A Nerd Comes Home

I am a nerd. I always have been, from my early memories of playing with Star Wars toys in the late 70s and graduating to Dungeons & Dragons, video games and comics in the 80s. Then the 90s, where I was deeply involved in the Danish gaming community, writing for a magazine, active on the con scene and even getting paid to game with kids! However, that was also the time I started feeling the pressure to “get a life” and “grow up”.

I spent the late 90s and a good part of the 2000s looking for a new identity. It’s clear to me now, but back then it was just life. I had wanted to be a writer, a photographer, a filmmaker and tell stories for a living, but that did not seem to fit with the rest of the world (as in: paying my rent). So I adapted, got a haircut and a “real” job in IT. It was vaguely creative, and I even made pretty good money for a while, but I also felt the joy of life getting sucked out of me.

Me, with my novel in 2001.

In 2001 my mystery novel "Det perfekte offer" (the perfect victim) was published in Denmark. I was one proud nerd.

I still played the occasional game with friends, but that was about it. The urge to tell stories was satisfied by writing novels and song lyrics, I even got published and played on the radio – but I had given up on making any of that into an actual job. It’s easy to say, that I should have pushed through and stuck to my guns, but I didn’t have the self confidence to do so. Maybe I was just too young and inexperienced.

I found photography as a way to tell my stories and make some cash, but I still supplemented my income as a bartender for the first couple of years. My nerdier interests remained firmly planted in the back seat.

Eventually, I started running into people with similar backgrounds, but who had stuck to their nerdy interests in their professional lives. Some had become established authors, others were designing story-based team building events. The range was larger than I had imagined, and that inspired me.

Since 2009, I have made a conscious effort to reawaken my inner nerd, and I truly believe it’s the best thing I have done for myself in years. Luckily, I have a wife who is also a nerd at heart, and who supports me completely.

I started a fresh gaming group, playing D&D for the first time in more than a decade. Even though the campaign died out, it got me back to writing game material — I wrote maybe 150 pages of notes for that campaign, some of which was put online. And it felt right. It felt good. It felt like home.

So for me personally, I am naming 2012 as the Year of the Nerd. I will be working on as many nerdy projects as I can, and for the first time since the 90s, I will be attending (at least 2) conventions this year. I’m even a panelist at one of them. So here’s to you, my fellow nerds. And thank you for the inspiration.