I was up at the Echo Lake Berkeley Family Camp with my family and Jason Kleidosty’s family. Jason had brought his laptop and headphones and worked on his ambient music in the evenings, drinking a beer and watching the post-sunset glow from a cliff-top bench. I left my computer at home but did my fiction scribblings each morning in my notebook, drinking high-octane coffee from the bottomless cafeteria urns. Early mornings and late evenings were the quiet times of the day — family waking hours were filled with the sounds of screaming children (some joyful, some tantrums). Children love to scream.
Nobody was making us work. The rewards? Who knows. Is anyone besides Boards of Canada making a living from ambient music? Some science fiction writers I idolize, and who have tens of thousands of fans (or at least Twitter followers) toil away at day jobs. Creative efforts, even from the most talented and hardworking, don’t always make ends meet. I make most of my money solving database problems. Sometimes I fantasize about alternatives. I suppose I could write and sell a hair-regrowth eBook, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I’d rather write a long treatise on medieval polearms and sell it on dmsguild.com. I’ll bet I could make dozens of dollars. But I need an illustrator.
The reason we create, and keep creating, is because the reward is immediate. The process is the payoff. If it isn’t, find something else to do. If you succeed at the activity, the reward is doing more of that activity. Are you okay with that? Spend time doing things you enjoy, period.
Why would someone write a sixteen minute instrumental track with no hummable melody? Well, I’m glad he did. I get lost in the track. I can’t stop listening to And/Or. Just pop off the top of my skull and wire up my brain with the intergalactic quantum orchestral strings.
Which is to say, Strange Skin, the new album from Kleidosty, is out today. Please rate if you purchase, and leave a review if you like.