Are unpublished writers necessarily artists in the ideal sense? Or might their speculative efforts also serve a practical purpose by promoting their very survival? Words, like other symbolic toolsets, allow people to understand their environment just as cave paintings aided primitive man. Whether a particular understanding is sound or unsound remains a matter for debate, but understanding itself surely acts as a control mechanism, individually and as Foucault posited, collectively.
In the process of writing I address paradoxes, explore memories, and shape ideas. How my words might fit into a marketplace comes as an afterthought. This approach, widely considered impractical, has led me to self-publish, an endeavor that did not escape my scrutiny. Why bother, I mused, especially when information has never been more readily available? And despite the usefulness of words, why make a lifestyle out of them? Both questions are worthy of entire books but can be summed up as follows:
Why write? To live creatively. Why self-publish? For the fun of it.
The first answer makes sense to cultures informed by notions of individual freedom. But the second answer may elude those same cultures which also stress the profitability of that freedom. Rather than preoccupy myself with sales figures, likely to be low in any case, I viewed self-publishing as an opportunity to collaborate with visual artists and technical experts, as a challenge to present my writing in the truest possible light, in short, as another game to play, engaged but not attached. Here one might detect the influence of Carse: “A finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.”
As a result of that project, Outliars.com emerged. My written work, urban, reflective, and bittersweet might also be described as intellectual, although more existential than scholarly—not that these avenues can’t coincide, but the difference between researching the lives of others and taking a look into yourself should not be underestimated. Using words is one thing; living with them is another.