Multiple Income Streams

Being unemployed has given me the opportunity to consider making a living freelancing. At the moment, I’m certainly not making a living doing it; in fact, I’m not even making enough for it to have an effect on my biweekly unemployment check. But it has opened my eyes to the possibility that I might be able to grow all of my skills into multiple income streams that can replace the income I was making before.

If I were to pursue being self-employed full time, my plan would be three-fold. I would offer on-site computer consulting, possibly in affiliation with Nerds On Site, with whom I have already been in contact. That would probably be my main income stream. In fact, I’m doing some of that today, and I have five other consulting jobs either on tap or which I’m already doing on the barter system.

My second income stream would be writing. My relationship with ComputorEdge has been excellent thus far, and I look forward to continuing that relationship. In addition, I would like to add more sales to my writing résumé, especially fiction sales. I have a great idea right now for a short story contest hosted by Apex Science Fiction and Horror Digest. It’s an ambitious idea, and if I can pull it off, I think I will be able to find a home for it somewhere, if not within the pages of Apex Digest.

The third income stream would be music. My band, Steel River Three, currently doesn’t have any gigs lined up, but our recent gigs have been a step up from the coffeehouses we have been playing. We are considering approaching a different style of venue in hopes of continuing the trend of better pay for our playing. If we do that, I could also consider doing a solo acoustic act, or putting something together with Lannette, as she has suggested a few times. If SR3 moves out of the coffeehouse circuit, maybe Lannette and I could get our feet in the door at those places.

Making a living on my own schedule and from my own talents is an intriguing concept, and one that I would like to explore. The big thing stopping me is insecurity. How do I make sure my family is provided for? How do I make sure my multiple income streams combine into a stable flow of income? It’s scary, but it’s also appealing.

I think I need to talk with some more people about how they have been successful following similar paths. I know several people who make a living from their creative talents. Maybe I should call them up, have lunch with them, find out what hidden gems and pitfalls exist on this path.

Rainy Sunset

I took this picture with my camera phone tonight while on a grocery store run.

Rainy Sunset
This is why I live near the Rockies. When mother nature contrives to create images like this, I remember to take a deep breath, enjoy the gift, and put everything in perspective.

Life has been rough at times over the last couple of years, with family illness, a divorce, very tight finances, and my job not going as well as I would have liked. But there are bright spots, and I think that is what Mother Nature is trying to tell me.

I’m getting married again in a few weeks, and in that marriage, I gain not only a loving, supportive, intellectual wife, but I gain a new son. I will never attempt to interfere with Logan’s relationship with his real father, but for those times when his Dad is not able to be there for him, I hope to be an able assistant.

Another bright spot of the last couple of years is my band, Steel River Three. We haven’t made much money, but we have managed to play several different venues and are starting to notice familiar faces at the shows. I’ve become much more comfortable playing and singing in front of people, and recently wrote my first song in over eight years.

The writing is taking off a bit, too. The articles for ComputorEdge are not only bringing in a bit of extra money, they have given me the confidence to submit more work to different markets. As I mentioned in the last entry, I submitted a piece to NPR, and yesterday I submitted a short-short story to the new science fiction/horror magazine Apex Digest. The response time for that market is listed as 20-30 days, so I hope to hear whether the story was accepted by mid July. I also have another story idea that might be right up that magazine’s alley, but I have to write it before I can submit it. 😉

Yes, there have been challenges in my life recently, many of them brought on by myself, but I need to remember that not all is dark and stormy. As people in the Pacific Northwest might say, the sun breaks are a reason for celebration.

I’ve been creative … really, I have!

It seems I’ve lost track of the purpose of my Creativity Journal recently. I’ve blogged about all kinds of things in recent posts, but not much about creativity.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been creative, though. My band, Steel River Three has continued to play occasionally, and we have two gigs coming up next week. I’ve written a new song (with the valuable feedback assistance of Lannette Robinson, John Jesitus, and the members of Melanie Tem’s writing group) called “New Guy Smell”, and we’re hoping to debut that at the next show. I’ve also been working on editing down raw video footage to produce a demo DVD of the band’s performance at Pink E’s in Westminster. (Video editing on a shoestring budget is much more difficult than I originally anticipated, and it takes forever.) When that project is done, I can extract the audio and create a live demo CD, as well, perhaps with a couple of studio tracks thrown in for good measure. All the big bands do that to get you to buy their live records, you know.

I’ve also done a lot of work for Melanie Tem and Steve Rasnic Tem, revising their existing website. The new site is not up yet, pending final approval from the Tems, but it should be available for public consumption soon. I’ve received verbal confirmation from the editor of ComputorEdge magazine that I will be assigned “a few” articles before the end of the year, and that’s great news.

My crowning creative achievement lately has been poetic, though. Early last month, I presented Lannette with a silver skeleton key, a silver-topped leather ring box from Scotland, and an engagement ring. I handed these to her as I read a proposal sonnet (which I had written, of course) at Lily Lake, near Estes Park, Colorado. We will be married on that spot on August 1, 2005, and have our reception at the Baldpate Inn right across the highway from the lake. (That link also has a couple of pictures of Lily Lake and the surrounding area.) The significance of the skeleton key is that Earl Derr Biggers‘ first novel was called Seven Keys to Baldpate, and the Baldpate Inn in Estes Park was officially endorsed by Biggers in the first half of the last century as being virtually identical to the fictional inn he had described in his 1913 novel. Lannette purchased a copy of that novel for me on eBay, and keys have been a theme of the relationship ever since.

Lannette has put up a wedding page at Geocities if you’re interested. It includes pictures of the site, the rings, and a copy of the sonnet.

So you see, I really have been creative and productive. I just haven’t been recording it. I have future plans for this site, though. Using some of the research I did while working on Melanie and Steve’s website, I plan to add some blog management features to this one, which will make it much easier for me to edit and/or delete these Creativity Journal entries. I will also put a “teaser” paragraph on the opening page of the site, so people can have a taste of what the latest journal entry is about.

When I get time, I will add the proposal sonnet to the Original Poetry page, as well as the lyrics (and maybe even an MP3) for “New Guy Smell.”

American Idol, Guitar Player Style

In a rare meeting of Texas and Wisconsin, two of my favorite guitarists will be playing at the Boulder Theater in a few days. Willy Porter will be opening the show for Eric Johnson in the same small venue where E-Town is taped every week. I’ve seen both of these artists at this venue before, and both shows were excellent.

Willy Porter is a phenomenal guitar player and songwriter, and it stuns me that he hasn’t gotten the national recognition that he deserves. I think part of the problem has been that his studio work is much more toned down than his live playing. When he plays live, he covers all the parts that are covered by other musicians on the studio tracks. With intimate knowledge of the fretboard and alternate tunings, Willy is able to adjust his guitar during the show to play any of the tracks off his albums, and usually throws in a unique cover or two.

Eric Johnson, while not a household name, is at least well-known in the guitar player community, and has been since he appeared on the cover of Guitar Player magazine in 1986. (The cover caption said, “Who is Eric Johnson, and why is he on our cover?”) A veteran of the music business and its contract pitfalls, Johnson has somehow managed to stay at the forefront of guitar virtuosos for the last twenty years, despite sparse album releases. In recent years, his album output has increased, in part due to a relaxing of his legendary perfectionism.

I’m very excited about the show, and will report back about it when it’s over.

Oh, the Important Advice for the Day: Always open Yoplait yogurt containers away from your body.

EC was here

As of last night, I can die happy. The last major musical act on my list of lifetime concert goals has been scratched off: I saw Eric Clapton in concert.

Being a guitar player, especially one who likes the blues, it’s nearly impossible not to like Clapton. Sure, he gets negative press from purists because he uses too many effects, or because he’s too “pop,” but I think that even his naysayers have to acknowledge that he’s been a musical presence and influence on rock ‘n roll for nearly forty years.

Yes, forty years. For longer than I’ve been alive, this man has been a driving force in music. I’ve been playing guitar as a hobbyist for over 20 years now, and EC has always been an influence on me.

In my opinion, one of the areas for which Clapton doesn’t get enough credit is his vocals. The man has a very wide stylistic range, and can jump from growling the Delta Blues to singing bouncing reggae to twanging country songs with no apparent shift in mindset. His shift in voice is just another performance technique that he has honed over the years, like his guitar stylings.

Thanks, EC, for playing Denver this time around, and for bring such fine musicians as Billy Preston and Doyle Bramhall II along for the ride.