I finished my last post in the middle of our big annual summer road trip, and since then have made it home, gotten through the first three weeks of the school year, battled a bout of anxiety waiting for the results of my daughter’s annual check-up with her specialists in Cincinnati (ultimately got good news, yay), dealt with landlord stuff (our first tenants moved in while we were gone, which was kind of stressful), got back to my ditch running schedule (with a minor calf strain which I’m trying not to aggravate), recorded an awesome podcast with Russell James Pyle that I’m almost done editing (I swear Russ, I’m almost there), edited several super-dense health care reports that left my brain bruised (ow), and recorded a song and made a music video for it (to be included in aforementioned podcast). That’s just off the top of my head. How the fuck am I so busy? It feels crazy.
Part of it is that I’m making more structured time for music and recording and videos and related creative stuff, and trying to make it part of my regular work on top of writing and editing. For ages I have wanted to get better at recording music and making videos, but the timesink of learning all that technical stuff was too daunting. Till now I haven’t had the time or bandwidth, but for various reasons it finally feels like a good time to take it on. I’m moving in baby steps, learning basics of iMovie and GarageBand to start. Both also have mobile versions which is pretty cool.
Fun fact: The song I just recorded was done 100% on my iPhone. I’m not sure if I’ll continue doing it this way, but here’s how I did it: I recorded and edited all the tracks with the GarageBand app which is pretty dang easy to use. There are of course fewer functions than the laptop version, but it was totally usable and I got the song done, so I call that a success. For recording I used the cool new mic I just bought: the Rode VideoMic Me which plugs right into the phone. It really improves the recording quality a lot—which is great as I already thought the onboard mic was pretty good. Here’s the final track, with a video I made in about half an hour yesterday using iMovie and a clip of a Wisconsin rainstorm I recorded with my phone:
Learning tech-oriented production stuff is really time-consuming. And it tests my patience constantly. Tech frustrations are such a drag, it makes me question whether I really want to be spending my time doing this kind of work. Ultimately I think I do, largely because of the payoff of being able to do more media production myself and not have to rely on others. Besides being expensive, depending on other folks for audiovisual work can be a real logjam. When help is unavailable things just don’t get done. So the more I can do myself, the more productive I can be. I’ve got a zillion ideas for projects, and if I can do some of the work myself, then I can push forward on more of them. That’s the plan at least.
We’ll see how far I make it into gearheadery, but this I can tell you: An important part of deciding to get more hands-on with media production is simply accepting the inescapable fact that there’s no quick-and-easy way to do this kind of creative work. Media production has a million different possible moving parts and ever-shifting technologies and constant roadblocks—and you have to be willing to deal with that. If you’re not (and for years I haven’t been) then you’ll either have to hire someone to do it (expensive, and it’s sometimes hard to find the right fit vision-wise), or not do your project at all. Those are basically your options. (Side note: Don’t complain or freak out the next time you get an estimate for your “simple little video” project. The amount of work that goes into the simplest A/V production is truly staggering.)
So the long and short of it is that I’m embarking on more audio/video projects and I’m excited about it as a new outlet for creative work. Stay tuned.
Another big thing that’s happening right now is that Sage is moving on from being Pyragraph’s Managing Editor, which is a huge shift and quite a bittersweet one for me. Sage has been a close part of our family for years now and not only has helped us in many, many crucial ways, but has just been a wonderful, light-filled, angelic-voiced person to be around. Starting this month, she’s shifting over to focus on her music, yoga, aerialist, teaching and other rad pursuits. Rock on, Sage! I’m looking forward to watching you continue to kill it with so many great things.
Instead of describing more about what’s going on at Pyragraph, I thought I’d share the letter I just sent to our Contributors. It gives a good summary of what we’re up to, who’s taking over as Managing Editor (ahem Clarke), and what our bigger picture looks like for the next few months. We’re off to a great start so far in this transition period and I’m truly excited for this new season of work, both at Pyragraph and beyond.
To: Pyragraph Contributors
Subject: An update from your long-silent Pyragraph Editor
It has been forever since I’ve sent an email to you, our beloved crew, and for quite some time have felt sheepish about it. Please forgive me! The last year has been incredibly busy and full as we have been in building mode—not just our daily publishing operation but all sorts of other projects like podcasts, videocasts, events, networking meetups, and not least, a new membership model. It has been a lot, and super busy, and always in flux, and hard for me to get into a regular flow of writing/communicating about what’s going on.
I’m working on changing this—and as part of this I’ll be more active in Editorial, which I’m really excited about! (More on this below.) I’m finally moving out of a hardcore “business building” stage and into the mode I enjoy best: developing content and publishing/sharing it. It feels good to be getting back to my jam.
As timing would have it, Sage is moving on from her position as Managing Editor for Pyragraph, to focus on not just her music (playing, recording, teaching) but also a new yoga practice and an ever-expanding range of amazing things she does (aerialist stuff, building guitars, you know, the usual). Sage has been with us since the beginning and has been such a crucial part of my life—both personally and professionally—for several years now, and I am so incredibly thankful for all she has helped me with and for being a wonderful friend. I feel really lucky to have had her in my life. Thank you so much Sage! I sure hope to keep doing fun projects with you down the road—music, publishing and otherwise—and I’m so happy to see you kicking ass so hard with all that you do. <3 Love you tons, Sage.
This is also an opportune (if belated) time for me to thank Josh Stuyvesant and Jeremy Kinter, the most entertaining and endearing Contributing Editor duo I could have ever hoped for, who have also moved on to other work and projects in the last few months. Besides finding many of you most excellent contributors, Josh and Jeremy brought awesome energy and ideas to Pyragraph, and helped us build many great relationships through their efforts developing the arts scene in Albuquerque. Thank you so much Josh and Jeremy; let’s have mimosas and breakfast burritos soon, for old times’ sake. xox (Also I miss your beards.)
With three key folks moving on in the last six months, I have put some long thought into what our priorities should be moving forward. Ultimately I feel Pyragraph got spread a bit thin in 2015. It was all very fun stuff that helped us improve our media production chops AND drink mimosas on the job AND allowed us to interact with many of you fine peeps—and I really look forward to doing more. But for at least the next few months, I’ve decided the best move is get back to the basics of daily publishing and catch our breath a bit after nearly three solid years of system-building. I personally have been neck-deep for more than a year building aspects of our business/monetization model, and most of that heavy lifting is now done (money will roll in eventually, right?). So it also makes sense for me to get back to Editorial, which I’m happy and excited about.
So moving forward, I’ll be a more hands-on Editor, and Clarke Condé will take over as Managing Editor. Clarke has been our Creative Director for a little more than a year so he knows our systems well and will easily transfer over to Editorial. Besides having tons of publishing experience and being a super-savvy WordPress guy (on top of his crack photography), Clarke really understands the heart of Pyragraph’s mission to bring forward the voices of working creatives. For now, he and I will share Creative duties (and likely reach out to you guys for more audio/visual content). I’m stoked to be working with him to keep Editorial moving forward, producing great content and expanding our audience.
You’ll likely hear from Clarke on the semi-regular, to keep you in the loop on our priorities like topics we want to cover, or standard features we want more of (i.e. Music Video Showcase or What’s Your Deal? posts). Please feel free to contact either Clarke or me about any ideas you want to kick around. We’d be especially interested in podcast/videocast ideas, and may be able to shake loose small extra budgets for audio/video content. Keep your eyes peeled for emails from Clarke.
This is already really long (sorry!) so I’ll leave it at this for now. Please don’t hesitate to email me, Clarke or Sage with any questions, now or moving forward. We are so thankful to have you on board and want to make it easy for you to use Pyragraph not just as a writing outlet, but as a platform to support you and your work. We can’t do it without you! Thanks for everything and please stay in touch.