Paradise Lost returns for a Second Season: Tickets on Sale now

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Back by popular demand, Second Life’s most highly praised theatrical experience: Paradise Lost in Second Life, will return for a second season beginning August 2nd. Tickets are now on sale at the Basilique Box Office (Marketplace Link) for alternating Saturday and Sunday performances.

Season 1 sold out a month before every performance, so get your tickets now to make sure you get a seat for you and your friends. Tickets are non-transfer, so if you’re buying tickets for friends, please buy as “gifts” using the Marketplace’s gift for a friend function.

Related links:

Don’t Panic

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I seized an unprecedented opportunity today at 7am SLT to sit in on the Live Firestorm Q&A hosted by Jessica Lyon with special guests Oz Linden (Technical Director for Second Life) and Pete Linden (Director of Communications, Linden Lab). Included below are my tweets during the event with some more context.

The recent news has got Second Life users and pundits in a tizzy, and this session was meant to offer a forum for the Lindens to share their responses to resident questions.

Jessica got things rolling by asking a point-blank question about the future of Second Life: Is Linden Lab planning to shut down Second Life:

Oz Linden on the lighthearted schtick he’d received from residents about being handed the leftovers (e.g. Second Life) while Linden Lab worked on its shiny new project:

Pete Linden on whether we should be concerned about the impacts of SL 2.0:

Oz Linden on Linden Lab’s attempt to be transparent with this news and their aims about future communication with residents in general:

Pete Linden on what Second Life residents can do to continue supporting Second Life:

There will be a full transcript and audio of the event on Inara Pey’s blog in the next day or so (to which I’ll link to when available).

Suffice to say, I’m considerably more optimistic about Second Life’s future as a result of this meeting, and will be putting my money where my mouth is over the next couple of days.

If like me, this news gives you some relief, I hope we can now start having creative and productive conversations about what we’d like to see in Linden Lab’s new virtual world platform.

There’s been plenty of discussion so far regarding wish lists about features we’d like. Here’s your chance to contribute your views in an environment that is both positive and encouraging of differing views.

Get involved and throw in your two cents on what you’d like to see in what we’ve now dubbed SL 2.0 at today’s (Wednesday) Basilique Salon, 1pm SLT. See you there!

Views on how we might deal with “SL 2.0″

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Last Wednesday at the Basilique Chat Salon we hosted a discussion asking participants how they are responding to the news that Linden Lab has confirmed that they are working on the next generation of virtual worlds, dubbed SL 2.0.

In my introductory post on the matter, I summarised three camps in which I categorise people’s reactions to the news:

  • Apathists
  • Pessimists
  • Optimists

Unlike the blogs, comments, forums and social media reaction, our discussion was decidedly more optimistic. If you’re looking for some (cautiously) optimistic bouys bobbing in a sea of doomsaying, here are the highlights of what they had to say.

It’s just the pragmatic thing to do

For starters, I’ll express my opinion as to what I expect from SL 2.0, hoping that the powers that be will listen. I don’t consider myself really important, but if some of my ideas are listened to, I’ll be glad.

Yes, I will stick around in SL even after the new virtual world is launched, for as long as it makes sense for me. If I have any builds or whatnot that depends on SL-compatible tech, I’ll also put it on Kitely or an OpenSim grid. Who knows, I might even do some professional work on these platforms.

But if/when SL 1.0 dies and SL 2.0 is really the way forward, then I’ll migrate to SL 2.0 and keep any OpenSim grid I might make, in order to fulfil whatever obligations may occur. For instance, if I make an OpenSim grid for an RL client and they don’t want/care about SL 2.0, I’ll keep it running and collect the money. It’s just the pragmatic thing to do. Virtual worlds of SL’s style (i.e. shared creative spaces) are both platforms and products. They have a shelf life.

As for all the idiotic screaming, yelling, conspiracy theories and the prokanoia in the forums, blogs etc… For sod’s sake. People need to get a grip. We’ve had too much keyboard masturbation in the forums.

Mona

I am curious

OK, like I said and commented on Becky’s post, I have ploughed through epic threads on fora, blogs and whatnot the past days, not surprised by the endless doomsayers.

Anyway, about me! I am not a creator, I have not built ‘things’ inworld, but I have built relationships and made friends. I am convinced those will stay with me anyway. My inventory, pfff. I, for one, am curious and maybe even looking forward to a migration. I have some ‘nice to haves’ on my list, although I am aware I am not entitled to anything.

For one, I would love to be able to be Caitlin Tobias ‘overthere’… it’s my name for 7 yrs now and I am kind of attached to it. Also, well, my blog has its domain called like that. I have mainland here in SL, but I wouldn’t cry over losing it. I pay for premium and tier for 6 yrs and it was and is well spent. I still enjoy it and if it ends here, I will indeed pack up and move like I did in rl after divorces…?

I hope, and think, a new world – would be nice for Caitlin and her blog and her pics. All the rest…is materials, virtual even, and my friends..I know how to find them anyway. So yes, the only thing I would appreciate (is) if I could be Caitlin Tobias there as well and I am not planning on leaving SL now or before I know how the new world is and before I am settled there. I don’t think I would have two second lives though at some point, I would indeed migrate.

Caitlin

I will peek

I will stay in SL as long as possible, maybe forever if they let me, but I will peek at the new world just like I have peeked at other VR Worlds but its so hard to match the momentum and advances.

SL has made especially the community so I would like to keep or be able to easily translate my, scripted devices, my look, and my name….which is not as big of a thing.

4 years of work into my devices …to have to start over would be crushing. But rumor has it that there will be an advanced scripting language so may be able to leverage that advancement as it relates to re-development time.

I do foresee attempts to corner asset markets like and, sex-engines, casinos, sex-trades, shoes and skins, so hope there will be controls in place espescially someone who attempts to buy up all the land and then set a price and I suspect we will have 3D glasses as well.”

Yummy

We’ll see

First of all, LL says they’re in the process of hiring 40-50 positions, but all their job listings are in San Francisco. From a personal standpoint, since that is relevant for my family, I’m disappointed that a virtual world company insists on physical office presence. It seems like they should drink a bit of their own Kool-Aid, and maybe that disconnect is part of the problem some of us have felt for years.

As for the less meta view, I see it this way: an asteroid is approaching my planet, but there is plenty of time to find a new planet and encourage my friends to jump on the same ship, but I’m probably going to lose all my stuff. That’s a bummer, but my stuff isn’t what is most important to me.

Will I move to SL 2.0? We’ll see. If I’m not far off, Ebbe suggested or said he was saying this now for competitive reasons. If there is non-Linden competition that is better, why would I stay loyal to a Linden product? I say that as someone with an avatar that hits the 9 year mark next month… I’m loyal….. but not forever, without reason…..

The first thing I did when this came out was to discuss it with my loved ones. We agreed to investigate and move together. So, that’s that. Final thought: as an anthropologist, this is a bonanza of possible study opportunities. Woo-hoo! :)

Kay

I can’t see Day 1

I was surprised at how the announcement was done. I feel for Ebbe, he seems to have heart and cares about SL. I wonder just how it will be done.

I joined in 2007 so there was a lot of things to see and wear and do . And us noobs then pounded down the doors and made even more stuff. I do see WHY Linden knows it needs a new backroom. But I have trouble seeing day 1, when all the systems work– group bans, friends list etc. If a new drugstore moves across the street to a new store– they restock it and make it all fresh and clean. But SL is for thing we make. (Excluding the Linden homes) and some moles things.

So Day 1– I guess we pop on new library clothes shape etc and what is there to see and do?

If Linden hires people to make some areas– there will be charges of insiders and pets and frankly some glossy malls aren’t the lovely hand picked and crafted places we see here.

I was admiring this room, there are things from a number of shops and places. Linden can’t do that Day 1. I wish they had made a continent attached to SL somehow a portal and then people could port over and see the new stuff. I wish Linden had thought how we would react– they are betting the Farm and I can’t see day 1 , that bothers me – can they ?

And, last note, my inventory is my look, my homes, my memories of friends long gone. A blanket and cup of soup at the door to SL 2 is not being home and won’t be for a long time.

Mari

We can help make it work

First of all, Im really glad LL is doing this. Its the fact that SL enables us to create, that makes it so special and I would worry about any other new major endeavour doing that, so I really want this to succeed. The way they implement this is crucial, and this discussion makes that really clear.

I’m glad that Ebbe is here now, he seems to be sensible, and grounded in the user and community experience… a lot of the LL’ers now are, and see themselves, as technicians and they will see this as a technical project, which it is. But we know it’s more than that; the technical has to succeed, but the transition does too.

So… keeping the positive energy and constructive approach going like how we can help them understand the kinds of things we have just been talking about… and how to position this as an extension of SL and not a replacement or competitor. How to make it so that success or failure doesn’t come on day 1, that we can work through the initial stages and build it all up together so give them ideas on how they can make it easy and not all added expense for people like us to be in both places for the first year

So as for me, I’m optimistic. SL has kept me involved and excited for 7 years, and a lot of people the same, so I’m here for the long haul. SL 1 or 2, whatever works, and we can help make work.”

Josh

 I want them to understand how we use Second Life

I’m going to remain optimistic so… I believe that LL will be as cutting edge as possible with what they ultimately release. I believe, that with over a decade of experience with what works and does not work in a virtual world, we’ll see improvements in processes and abilities.

I want to keep my avatar name. And I believe that porting our names will be relatively easy for them to do. I hope, but am not entirely certain, that LL fully grasps the myriad ways in which SL 1.0 has become meaningful to each of us– how we use SL. We are not all here for the same reasons (though I’ve met many who claim if you’re in SL, you’re here for sex). I want them to understand how we use Second Life — I want questions asked and answered.

And ultimately, it’s their product and if they have any business acumen at all, they recognize the value of a ready made client base– those of us who are already in their SL 1.0 version.

Finally, where do I sign up for alpha/beta testing? I’m waiting with ‘bated breath. I’m good at breaking things.”

Kerena

 I’ll stick it out

I really appreciate this conversation and this optimistic viewpoint, because frankly the news hit me pretty hard. Ultimately I accept that SL 1 can’t help but wind down. I wouldn’t be opposed to migrating to a new platform, and I might even be excited by the potential, if the Lindens weren’t forsaking backwards compatibility and open source.

But under the circumstances, my initial thought was to commit to keeping the existing SL profitable if that’s a realistic possibility, as Jessica Lyon has proposed.

I’m not a techie and I’m not a significant content creator, but I sure am a content collector. :) So the thought of losing the last four years’ worth of accumulated stuff is pretty distressing.

I’m less concerned about losing my immediate community, because I have connections with most of those people outworld. But there will inevitably be some fragmentation as people scatter, which is a shame.

I do wonder about the logistics of my personal migration, since I can’t really afford the time or the cost to maintain a presence in both places.

If I have to let go of all the old before I embrace the new, I doubt that I’ll do that until my hand is forced by SL 1′s closing, and I imagine there are many like me. So I wonder what the implications of that phenomenon are for SL 2.

I have a sim and would hope to again. I’ll desperately hope for some sort of content-duplicator-thingies. I’ll try to keep my name and my look, and no doubt I’ll soon be spending too much of the new virtual currency. So one way or another, I’m a lifer.

But I don’t think SL2 will feel like home for a while, and I’ll have to do some grieving first. It’s important enough to me that I’ll stick it out. But I really hope there are enough others who feel that way to make SL 2 viable.

Suriya

I’ll go where my friends are

I’ve lived through a lot of these things: old products going away that I’ve invested in somehow. Change is scary! But more than anything, I think the lesson I’ve learned is that reimagining a platform can reinvigorate an old one so even if the new effort fails, I think that a lot of good will come of it.

For me personally however the important lesson I’m going to draw from is an experience I shared nearly two years ago with you, Becky.

One day we decided to check out Cloud Party so we logged in and we were stood there inventory-less in shapes that were foreign to us, in a world that was very bland in comparison to the one we live in and it all seemed very strange until we started talking and at that point, none of the “things” mattered.

We could have logged pretty quickly and come back to SL but we didn’t we stayed a while and played and chatted just as we always do and I think that reinforces my view that it’s the people that matter not the things.

Another experience I’ve had lately, well in the last year is one that you touched on earlier Becky. I basically moved over an ocean in RL and threw most of the trappings of my life away. They’re called trappings for a reason; they stop us thinking in new ways and looking at life differently. So I see a “new SL” as an opportunity, not a threat and certainly not something to be feared.

I’ll go where my friends are and it won’t matter a jot what’s in my inventory because frankly by this point it’s such a mess I can’t find anything anyway ;)

Harvey

I decided, this time around, to let the commenters speak for themselves. Who am I to question what they themselves might do when SL 2.0 arrives? I still have more to say on the subject but I’ll leave my personal views on what I see as a credible, but possibly alarming, scenario that we might see in the future, for another post.

Kicking off the World Cup of Conjecture

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Last week at the TPV (Third Party Viewer) Developer meeting on Friday June 20th, Linden Lab’s CEO Ebbe Altberg confirmed that Linden Lab is at the internal demo stage of the next generation of Second Life.

The community has dubbed the new project as SL 2.0. To be clear, despite the adopted moniker sounding like an upgrade, this is not an upgrade. We won’t one day be in Second Life as it is, click a button and automagically be upgraded to SL 2.0.

SL 2.0 is a new virtual world that will run parallel to Second Life. Ebbe Altberg has confirmed that the virtual world as we know it, may come to an end. In the meantime, everyone one of us will have a choice to make. The options are to (a) remain a resident of Second Life, (b) migrate to SL 2.0, (c) both, or (d) neither.

Welcome to the World Cup of Conjecture! It really is shaping up to be quite a tournament.

Because I just love to observe human behaviour, I’m going to have a field day with this one. What will people do? What reasons will they give? What stories will they create? Oh, this is going to be so much fun. And I want to talk about it with you, at this Wednesday’s Basilique Chat Salon at 1pm.

So here we are, five days into the tournament and the rival teams have assembled for the mother-of-all contest of words. First up…

Huh? Wut? Whatevs. Oh! ::::::: I ❤ THIS T U N E ! ! ! ::::::: HOoOoOUlalalala!!!

First up is Team Wut :-| ?, who aren’t really on the pitch. This team includes the majority of Second Life residents that are either blissfully unaware of the changes coming, or simply don’t care.

A small subset of this group might hear the news, and due to either apathy or misunderstanding, not bother worrying about it or carry on doing what they always do.

Given that most Second Life users don’t read SL social media, blogs, forums and industry news – which is the only place this news has been officially shared to date – this is a very large group.

I’m somewhat bemused by Team Wut :-| , but observing them is a bit like eating meringue  - the high can be mildly interesting, but the overall effect is cloying.

Linden Lab is EeeeeVIL!

And on one side…. we have Team Doomsayers! :x This team likes to take a negative approach to most changes.

Players are known to stir up fears by scaremongering to wind people up with fantastical assumptions that are either deliberately incorrect or incomplete (e.g. LL is making a new world and none of your stuff will be compatible!!)

This team likes to speak for others that they often know little about (e.g. nobody will want this change, everyone will stop spending money, all creators will stop making things, all land owners will bail leaving Second Life empty).

They might overstate absolute claims without evidence (e.g. you will lose everything you own or have ever created).

Some players will invent facts, motives and question the ability of others to suit their world view (e.g. Linden Lab is stupid, greedy, compulsively lies to us, doesn’t care about residents, and is out to screw us over at every opportunity – basically, they are giant chorizos that don’t deserve to have us as residents… despite the fact we’re all still here…)

A special tactic they like to use is to label their opponents (those who disagree with their opinions) as shortsighted and ignorant at best, or fanboys and cheerleaders at worst.

In fairness, Team Doomsayers! :x can be the most entertaining of the teams to watch. Sadly though, it’s a bit like eating a Big Mac from McDonald’s – a tasty first bite, but whoa do ever you feel like throwing up a few minutes later.

This is interesting… (and maybe even a little exciting!) Let’s hear more!

And on the other side… we have the Team Cautiously Optimistic :-) 

This team, while not overly content with everything about Second Life, see this news as a potentially positive direction for the world we hold so near and dear.

Some players might see it as an opportunity to fix so many things that we’ve all found less than great.

This team is open to hearing more, and while some of the players can be impatient (probably relative to the degree of the investments they made – emotionally, temporally, and financially), they appreciate that the future is being written as we speak, so “wait and see” is the best of all possible options that will at least reduce the risk of disappointment.

They are the wish-listers. They see this as an opportunity to start fresh, even willing to leave their baggage behind, if necessary.

Players on this team might be less attached to material things: Inventories that took years to create. Places we feel at home. The ways we navigate and cope with the world. Many feel the nostalgia and sentimentality surrounding the things they’ve made and come to rely upon, but they know they can move beyond it.

They’ll likely board the first ships with the little luggage they can carry. They’ll become the early adopters, and I’m guessing, reap the tremendous rewards available to those first embracing change.

What’s their secret weapon? What do they know that the others don’t? I think it’s that they know that Second Life – the experience, as opposed to the platform – isn’t about the stuff we have, it’s about the people that live in it.

I’ll wear my colours now: Team Cautiously Optimistic :-) is my tournament favourite and I’ll happily be counted to play for this team.

Many important questions have arisen. Many of the answers have either been “wait and see”, or “we’re not sure yet”. Our talk today won’t be about the technological or commercial merits of the move – that’s just more conjecture. Rather, I want to talk about how we’re going to emotionally deal this change, because the one thing I know for sure, is that we will have to deal with it – one way or another.

I believe this will be the biggest, most divisive challenge that we – as a community – have ever had to face. Because so much of what Linden Lab do depends on how we decide; what we do, what we say and what we think in the next 12 – 18 months will make a difference.

So… which team are you supporting?

“I’m going to give you some tough love here, Missy”

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Every Wednesday I choose a topic for the Basilique Chat Salon. About a dozen people gather to discuss it over 2 hours. This week’s subject was Creativity – where does it come from, and where does it go, when it seems unavailable? This is the fourth part of that conversation. In case you’re hopelessly lost, here is the firstsecond and third.

Two days late on a promise of my own making (which is slowly becoming a theme), here is the fourth and last instalment sharing the wonderful conversation we had last Wednesday at the Basilique Salon. I’ve found that as I edited it for posting, I’ve resisted cutting too much of it, simply because there was so much insight in it. I hope you are finding the conversation as interesting as I did. This part is over 2000 words, so grab a warm drink and curl up on the sofa if you can…

“Becky…” said Mona, “You’re the one that calls the shots. You make the schedule. Not me, not any of the people that are in here, not any of the crowd. Stop worrying about where you’ll find inspiration. In fact, stop even expecting to find it in high art. You might find it in a mass-produced pop song, or in a few passing words in a conversation.”

“Indeed,” added Caitlin, “So this schedule, and ‘best times’ and all, who made that anyway? Like you can’t change it??”

“Yeah…” I reluctantly agreed, “that’s the other pressure… to be clever with high art. The criteria get tighter and tighter. I sound like I’m complaining though. I actually love it, that’s why I’m feeling the pressure.”

“I’m not a classical buff, Becky,” replied Mona. “I don’t normally listen to classical. I often find inspirational messages in rock ballads, blues, even in pop stuff. Sometimes, even entirely unrelated events might kick me into action. Well, seemingly entirely unrelated.

“I saw one huge problem with Paradise Lost, and Romeo and Juliet (besides the fact that they cause my GPU to raise temperatures high enough to bake a cake). They confine you to a certain framework and mindset. So, you expect of yourself (I don’t – I never expressed any expectations regarding your work) to keep doing what the pundits call ‘high art’.

“Mozart was his time’s biggest pop star. And he also had a huge thing for scatological humour. For instance, that song “Leck mich im Arsch” (Lick me in the arse). Don’t demand of yourself to be always in this genre. Try new ideas; even ones you’re not familiar with. Tell you what. Go out tomorrow and purchase an issue of “Guitar Techniques” Chances are that someone (perhaps Shaun Baxter) in there will be repeating once again that famous line that’s often told to the second stupidest category of musicians (and always ignored): ‘Expose yourselves to unfamiliar styles; stop imitating other guitarists;’ etc. Get out of your comfort zone. And this also means that you should get out of the box where you expect to find inspiration. Also: STOP pressuring yourself.

One of our two Nobel laureate poets wrote once “grab the ‘must’ from the t and tear it all the way to the m”. Tear the word “must” to shreds. You “must” have a concept by August. No. You don’t have to. Don’t expect your next project to be as big as Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost was huge, but it worked. Something else could have been as pompous and pretentious as one my guilty pleasures. You don’t need your next work to be as big as Paradise Lost. Perhaps you could do two smaller projects that you’ll really enjoy doing. Have you considered this at all?”

I had not, and said so.

“Let me put it this way: Would you like your next work to be a Julio Iglesias “Best of” double LP or a Beatles single?” asked Mona.

“Umm…” I struggled for a moment trying to figure out if this was a trick question, finally replying “the latter?”

“Precisely.” She said emphatically. “It doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t even have to be tremendously technical. What made Paradise Lost tick?

“The emotion.” I answered instantly.

“Exactly.” She confirmed. “The emotion. Not the scale.”

“Yes,” I agreed. “My ego wants the scale.”

“Then take your ego, put it in a tin box, weld it shut and throw it to the sea.” She replied.

“Ego’s are good friends,” added Caitlin, “but usually bad advisors…”

“Precisely.” Agreed Mona. “Paradise Lost was ginormous. But it also had taste and emotion. So, find something that appeals to you. Something that makes you think, or feel, or both. Or something that makes you laugh. Think it over. Think if you could do something with it. It doesn’t have to be huge. Apply taste and emotion. As for scale… Personally, I couldn’t care less.”

“Perhaps even a few small things that come together into a themed anthology.” Added Kay. “Delicious bites rather than a massive cake.”

“A triptych,” offered Juliette, “Three paintings come to life.”

Good ideas all. I was thinking, why do they all see it this way? I trusted their intentions were good. They didn’t want me to stress. They didn’t want me to pressure myself. But, isn’t that were the best stuff comes from? From stress and pressure?

“Maybe I’ve been influenced by cynics like Menippus and Diogenes quite a bit…” added Mona, “But really, I find greater beauty in a small, lovingly-built home than in those “I’m gonna fuck the sky” phallic buildings that are basically ways for impotent rich men to compensate.

As Mona was talking, I imagined bringing Eiffel a cup of tea as he was working on the drawings his eponymous tower, could I imagine myself saying: “Come on now Gustave, why put all this pressure on yourself? Isn’t it enough to stick to bridges?” Yet, I could see the logic in what they were saying.

“Mona,” I said, “I want to disagree with you so much except for that fact that you are making so much sense.”

“And again, don’t pressure yourself.” She reiterated. “It’ll cause you to rush things, and this will sabotage your efforts. Go for taste, emotion, insight, and what we call “μεράκι” (which can be translated as a combination of love and passion for your work). In fact, we have a short, anon-written poem that says “he who doesn’t love what he does must die, for in this world he only wastes the space he takes.”

“But really, if you pressure yourself, you might even end up resenting your own work and your own hobby and labour of love. What you do here is not a job; it’s your passion. We don’t necessarily love our jobs. But we love our passions. So, don’t allow yourself to get stuck in a self-imposed rut. After Paradise Lost ends, take a break. Go out, have fun, read, listen to whatever pleases you, expose yourself to other ideas, genres, whatever. What the hell, maybe even go out and listen to Allan Holdsworth or go visit a street photography exhibition or something. Or just go for a trip – short, long, who cares?

“Yeah, it all makes sense.” I agreed.

“Get as much input as possible, but without pressure.” She said. “Let it sink in. Let your brain correlate it to your own thoughts, ideas, experiences, obsessions, and passions. And that’s when you’ll have an “aha!” moment. Or two. Or ten. Or a hundred. Remember my post that was titled “On a personal note”?

“I was stuck in a rut. It’s no secret that Inara is my mentor in a million of things. I speak with her on a daily basis and I’ve learned from her in these two years more than I’ve learned since 2006. Still, I somehow felt obliged, blog-wise, to live up to her own style and work.

“This meant that, not only did I try to improve my writing (that’s good), but I also tried to provide quick news coverage of as many things SL as possible. But that turned out to be impossible. I couldn’t find the time to watch the Drax Files properly (much less listen to the Radio Hour), research stuff, put it together, comment on it… I started to feel like I was drowning.

“I know that feeling, when it comes to my blog…” added Caitlin.

I agreed: “Same here.”

“So, I said ‘sod it, I’ll do whatever the hell I want, I’ll write when I want, when I can, when I feel like it, when I’m ready.’” said Mona.

“It makes a lot of sense Mona,” I said after some more discussion had passed, “and also what the others have said. I am finding it a serious challenge to embrace the advice, but I know it’s sound. I think the issue is not that I disagree, but rather that it goes so much against my grain that I find it almost alien.”

“Becky,” said Kay, “I would agree with you and it’s why I’ve been quiet tonight, too. It’s all excellent advice, but not my nature either.

“Yeah,” I smiled at Kay, “I had a feeling. Yeah, I’ve been taking it in, and thinking… this all makes sense, but can I really do that?”

“Yeah you can.” said Caitlin.

“It may be against your grain, Becky,” replied Mona, “but remember: SL is a hobby. It’s not a vocation. Does your livelihood depend on it? It doesn’t. Since it doesn’t, then stop worrying.

“Well,” I replied, “my creative livelihood does, to a great extent.”

Kay added: “One can be passionate and intense about an avocation, too.”

“It doesn’t.” Stated Mona. “I’ll give you some tough love here, Missy.”

“Uh oh…” I laughed, “it wasn’t tough enough?”

“What depends on stressing out about getting things done in super-tight deadlines is the satisfaction of your desire to announce yet another big work. Guess what? It doesn’t have to be something big. Have you watched the “This Is Spinal Tap” movie?

“A long time ago yes,” thankful to actually know one of Mona’s sometimes obscure references.

“Heh,” chuckled Kay, “I used to use that when teaching project management classes, on the importance of writing accurate specifications… or leprechauns will dance around your henge.

“By pressuring yourself into thinking you have to prepare BIG things in a very short time, you also risk trapping yourself into thinking you have to do BIG things only. And size isn’t everything, as we all know very well. Well, OK, in some cases it does help, but it’s not the only thing that matters. If you trap yourself into wanting to do only big things, you’re going to enter Nigel Tufnel territory.”

“Ok. Tell you what.” I said. “I’m going to give what you’ve said serious thought. And I’m not just saying that. I’m going to really consider why I want to do certain things. I’m going to decide for myself the way to go, with a view of balancing the pressure and stress with what’s on the other side of that.

“That sounds like a more hopeful position than feeling blocked.” said Kay.

“Yes.” I agreed, “It definitely is.”

“Brava!” she shouted.

“Even if you don’t have a complete concept by August, you can discuss it with the rest of the crew and people can contribute their two cents.”

“Yes,” I agreed, “and it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t, you’re right.

“Who knows,” she added, “perhaps someone else from the Basilique can have some idea that might work as a project.”

“Yes, always possible.” I said.

“Don’t be afraid to ask your collaborators for ideas and suggestions.” she added. “You asked us here, and many of us are complete strangers.”

“Eek, another can of worms your opening now…”

Caitlin laughed: “I think I just felt Becky cringe.”

I laughed.

“That was your ego whispering…” added Caitlin.

“It didn’t whisper…” said Mona, “My cat woke up by it!”

We all had a good laugh at that.

“And I cringed on your behalf,” added Kay, “because collaboration is not my nature either. But I acknowledge it’s ego-based.”

“Thanks very much all of you. I appreciate that tonight has been a lot about my stuff, and I really am grateful for the time and energy you’ve put into helping me with it.”

“You know that allowing room for people to contribute and participate makes team members believe more in the team. And they become more dedicated to the team and to you.” Added Mona.

I agreed: “Yes, it’s a big weakness.”

“It’s really interesting to have a variety of personalities for a discussion. I’m lousy on teams. Do not play well with others. Bossypants. But, if I am directing, I love having engaged and independent team members. I just don’t surrender the reins easily.”

“But you don’t need to ‘surrender’…..!” said Caitlin, “that’s the whole point.”

And by then, as the clocked ticked onwards, it was time to go to bed. Overall, a great discussion. Lots of great ideas, and some real honest talk. Long may they continue.

Getting your ducks in a row

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Every Wednesday I choose a topic for the Basilique Chat Salon. About a dozen people gather to discuss it over 2 hours. This week’s subject was Creativity – where does it come from, and where does it go, when it seems unavailable? This is the third part of that conversation. In case you’re hopelessly lost, here is the first and second.

It was now Kay’s turn to share her thoughts on creativity:

On craftspeople and artists

“So… let’s see…” she began, “I suppose I have two main trains of thought on this topic. First, I have a hard time with the concept of creativity, because I always feel as if I have none…

“I feel like a craftsperson, not an artist. There are bursts of inspiration, but most of the time, I shape and reshape and rewrite and edit and discard and delete and restart…

“If I am in the middle of a creative project and I look at others in the same genre, I have a crisis of confidence. My work looks like a steel penny amidst diamonds…

“So, for me, ‘creativity’ often comes down to work that isn’t fun. Outlining, structuring, researching, and then hoping for inspiration to make it shine. ….

“I’m currently working on a novel, however, and I’m stuck as stuck can be. So, I hope some of the great ideas here will help push that train too. ….

“I’m going down a spiral of research because it has a historical setting, and I think I’ll earn a doctorate in mid-20th century history before I ever finish. I have the story, I know my characters, but for some reason, I don’t feel ready. Hmmph. Ideas welcome!

Josh was the first to answer: “Kay, when you say you ‘shape and reshape and rewrite and edit and discard and delete and restart….’ – that’s exactly what some of the great poets did – they were craftsmen.”

“I find it interesting that you don’t believe yourself to have creativity,” added Juliette. “When you consider that creativity’s base word is “create,” which you do. The process is different for you, but it’s no less creative?”

Kay acknowledged both Josh’s and Juliette’s points, then turning to Juliette, replied: “Let me try to explain a bit. One of the things I do is sing. I have a very nice voice, but I couldn’t improvise, create harmony, or write music. I can just sing. For that reason, I don’t feel artistic.

Josh gasped.

“When I write,” continued Kay, “I have this suspicion that others out there have a much different, more ‘artistic’ experience than I do. But I could very well be wrong.

“Kay!!!” Josh couldn’t contain himself any longer.

Kay tilted her head replying “Yes?”

“But singing is artistic” he said.

“It sounds a little like you’re letting other people’s different talents make you feel like your duck isn’t good enough,” said Juliette, alluding to Josh’s earlier story about his drawing of the duck that his teacher criticised. Josh noticed, and there was a smile between the two of them.

“Perhaps I’m seeing their swans and comparing them to my duck,” replied Kay.

I thought about this for a moment and asked: “Is a duck any less than a swan? Is it not another one of nature’s beautifully intricate, amazingly-complex living creatures?”

Kay smiled and answered: “I actually prefer ducks. Hmm. Let me see if I can find a clearer point in my ramble.”

Josh picked up on my comment and put a mirror up to me: “So Becky, would a small, ’boutique’ kind of show not be as worthy as Paradise Lost, if that’s what you came up with now? It’s all part of your life work.”

I grinned at him, such a smarty-pants, and said: “Yes, but I have my duck on the go (Romeo + Juliet), and that’s my side-show… I need a main event.”

Kay smiled as I directed my comments to her: “First off, what you’re going through Kay, that tunnel of research… wow, does it ever resonate.”

“It never ends!” she agreed.

“And yes, it can feel that you doing more analysis than synthesis, most of the time,” I added.

“A great way to say it,” she agreed.

“It’s a tough one,” I said, “because big things like novels require research, especially if they’re historically based… but, not to overdo the analogy, might you be trying to hard to ‘get your ducks in a row’?

Kay laughed vowing to have Peking duck this weekend….

“Yes. Yes indeed,” she agreed. “My latest thought to kick myself out of the research is to write my novel as a screenplay first. Less description, more dialogue and action, then see if I can work backwards from there.”

“Ooh, that’s a good idea.” I said.

“It’s a nice shortcut to reference stock footage of WWII armament factories than to describe them in depth. It might help. Fingers crossed.”

It was now Juliette’s turn to share her views, which incidentally acted as a concise summary of what we had discussed to that point.

Be aware

“Well, I feel as though I need a disclaimer,” she began. “It’s my first time here, though I’ve read the transcripts on your blog. But I can offer my thoughts in general, just not as someone who writes for more than my own (and sometimes, my friends’) enjoyment.

“Hearing everyone’s description and conceptualizations of creativity is interesting, because we all have different ideas. I don’t see it as an outside thing, a monster to be lured. I see my creativity as part of my personality.

“It goes beyond the creation of the tangible to the intangible. For instance, a creative resolution to a problem, or an insightful way of looking at any given situation.

“It doesn’t ‘go away’, but at the same time, it isn’t on the surface, or manifesting itself how we would like it to.

“When you say that when you don’t write, you cook, then it’s still there.. because it’s still a part of you, it’s just choosing a different outlet.

“And the idea that it’s an obsession is similar to how I think, though I’ve always used the term passion. Passion can be good, or bad. It can be indescribable joy, or pain, or anger. All things can evoke that passion, and inspire us, like the Requiem did for you.

“I feel as though I’ll never create a character as amazing as one in my past, but these days, when I go back and read some of the stories I wrote about her, I realize that she was someone I needed to write about at that time in my life. I’m not that person anymore.

“So as far as pulling that passion out, getting past writers block, or creative constipation, I don’t really have an answer other than to find something that evokes it.

“But at the same time, you don’t want to force it. Just enjoy life, and be aware when you encounter something that really lights your fire. :)”

Stealing the fire

As I reflected on Juliette’s words, I considered how we often “There is a reason why I like the idea of borrowing the creativity, and it was put forward by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love – surely you’re familiar with that title?

“I am,” Juliette responded, “but I haven’t read it. I’ve not had a lot of time for reading for pleasure lately.”

“It was a phenomenal success - massive… and because she had it so early – this amazing success – she has looked at things objectively. And she’s concluded that in all likelihood her best work is behind her. She’s 40, and has 40 years left, as a writer.

“Well,” I continued, “she says that by ‘owning’ the creativity, it being  a part of you. It might be the main reason artists live such tortured lives, and why so many end up ruining themselves because they are too close to it. And it becomes a part of themselves, so much that their work, or lack of it, the shittyiness or genius in it, is who they are. And that can be awfully harsh.”

“Can I give you a 4 line poem by William Blake?” asked Josh, “I copied it for someone the other day, so I have it.”

He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sun rise.

“Yeah…” I said, “that’s it, on the knocker. It’s a tough one I know, to consider the idea of borrowing it, or stealing it for a while but in a way I think it might be a safer, if less reliable one.

“Well yes,” said Caitlin, “it would prevent you from ruining your life as it were”

“There is a notion that suggests that all great artists steal anyway. This was my reference to Prometheus by the way…”

“Good artists copy, great ones steal,” agreed Mona. “Prometheus stole fire from the gods to give it to the mortals. And this got Zeus’ thong in a twist.”

I nodded and added: “And that’s how I see artists, in a way. We never “own” it - like we don’t, can’t, own fire. We can only hold it for a while.”

“So Becky,” asked Caitlin, “is that your worry basically… that the borrowed time is up and you have to return your books to the library?”

I laughed in agreement, “hmm, yeah, kind of.”

“Go to a new library then.”

I smiled at Caitlin. “You set that up pretty well there Caity… and I waltzed right into it.”

“I can be evil at times,” she said with a grin.

Part 4 follows on Sunday.

Maligned ducks, nasty reviews, and the pressure to create

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Every Wednesday I choose a topic for the Basilique Chat Salon. About a dozen people gather to discuss it over 2 hours. This week’s subject was Creativity – where does it come from, and where does it go, when it seems unavailable? This is the second part of that conversation. In case you’re hopelessly lost, here is the first.

Maligned ducks

Josh shared his views on creativity:

“Well, to get to your questions, if I remember them right… I think everybody starts out being creative, I think it’s part of human nature. We have imaginations from the time we were very young. It’s how humans are made.

“But I remember at school, how easy it was for this to get bred out of us. Like we got graded on our drawings: I got a bad grade for a duck, and I liked what I did, until I got the grade.”

Josh paused for a moment as we listened to his story.

“Arghh, I had forgotten that.” he said with surprise.

As he spoke, I imagined little boy looking at his drawing of a duck with a disappointed look on his face – “How did I think this was good?” And, how these judgments sting, even years, and decades on.

“Plus,” he continued, “there’s all kinds of ways to be creative. A lot of my friends, were creative at things like baseball and cars, but those weren’t valued as ‘creative’ activities, but they can be. At work, finding solutions to problems, requires a lot of creativity… etc

“So, I think part of this is to see that everybody has his own way of being creative, and to value it. As for me, what I find is that I can’t be creative in any particular way all the time… that comes and goes too. So, I try to have different things going at the same time… like those different books Caitlin – I think –  said she reads at the same time.

“So, I can move back and forth as it feels right to me. If it’s to do with work, sometimes I have to force myself, I can’t wait for the mood to come.

“One more thing,” he added. “I think a lot of creativity comes from hard work, and developing skills and craftsmanship, and that hard grunge work, well it’s not always fun. But it is necessary sometimes. For things that I just want to have fun with , like SL… I don’t worry, I just have fun, and let things come to me as they do.”

“I completely agree with you about the hard work part.” I said to Josh. “Ideas may come in a flash, but you have to craft them into something more than they are when they arrive.

“One thing I wanted to pick up on, was the grading. How interesting that you said you liked what you did, until the grade told you not to, and how much that can stick with you!”

Josh admitted he was getting obsessed now, as he remembered: “I actually dropped that picture on the way home, so I wouldn’t have to show it to my parents!”

Nasty reviews

Caitlin asked: “But it still how it works, to some degree isn’t it?”

“Yes,” I replied. “Even now.”

“I want that duck back.” said Josh, to which I could only smile.

“That one person’s sole opinion can completely change how you feel about a part of yourself” added Juliette.

“Depends on how much that person’s opinion matters,” said Mona. “And this doesn’t only have to do with how much you respect that person, but also with how much influence that other person (you believe) exerts upon others.”

“As much as I don’t want to,” I said, and often pretend it doesn’t, I thought quietly to myself, “I am very affected by the reviews we get. Early on with Paradise Lost, we got a particularly vicious one, and it really made me doubt all the positive ones for a little while. And I know, that’s ridiculous.”

“It’s human,” added Caitlin.

“Ouch…” said Kay, “and completely understandable.”

“It’s why celebs have managers to deal with their mail and media.” Cait said.

“And the smart ones never Google themselves.” added Kay.

“If it’s any consolation,” said Mona, “I wasn’t even sure I was suitable to review Paradise Lost. So, I felt I was walking on eggshells. I didn’t want to sound like a know-it-all.”

I laughed and told her she’d written one of the best ones. “And I don’t even mean ‘positive’, I mean well thought-out.”

“Something I learned at work once helps me,” said Josh. “It was that no matter what you do, 10% of the people won’t like it. Somehow, that helps me keep things in perspective.”

“Yes Josh,” I agreed, “Putting things into percentages is a great idea. We’ve got 101 reviews so far (and 75 more when you count blog posts), with 4.8 stars out of 5. So yeah, one 1-star review is not too much to get upset about, even if she did say she’d have given us 0 if that was an option.”

“She’s an idiot.” Stated Josh, unequivocally.

“Who was that Becks?” asked Mona.

“It’s on our reviews page, they referred to themselves as ‘anonymous’, but I know who it was.” I answered.

“Well,” added Mona, clearly becoming protective, bless her: “I’d like to see her try to do what you guys did and then I would review her, and I wouldn’t pull any punches.”

I laughed inside as I recalled another audience member that popped onto centre stage in a nun-outfit, carrying a placard with words that didn’t rez before she was promptly ejected. “And, I’m surprised we got away with only one protestor!”

But that was another story, and it was Caity’s turn:

The Pressure to Create

“I have of course thought about it,” she started, “and read Becky’s post with the topic, and found it a bit sad. As I believe, but that maybe my character and how I am, creativity does NOT leave you.

“It shifts. When I am ‘blocked’ for some reason i automatically go do something else. I asked Becky last night, when she said she couldn’t write… what she did, and she said she went cooking. So…she didn’t lose her creativity, it just shifted to something else.”

“That’s a really good point,” said Josh.

“Also, and no I don’t do huge stuff in SL like projects, my creativity in SL is purely based on making pics, however, I know lots of people like my stuff. The fastest way to have me log off in a second is when I come somewhere, a venue/club and people say: oh, it’s Caity, she will for sure make some funny/cool pics of us we cannot wait…

“Pressure……. I hate it.

“I cannot be funny or cool or creative on command. It’s why I do not do pics on commission or request, they just… happen.

“Maybe it is how I am, and also a large bit of experience when growing older (cough) to accept from myself that I can not live up to expectations all the time, from others

“I did that… ages ago. It stressed me out. If now, in SL or RL with a painting or photography, I do not feel it… I accept that and go knitting (yes, I actually do that), or take my bike, or bake pies. And as said earlier, after a big project I always need the time to empty my head, before being ready to let a new one spark up

Caitlin breathed, in what felt to me like relief that she’d found an expression that worked best for her.

“A distinction I’ve considered here…” I said to Caitlin, “is that your creativity comes in short bursts.”

“It does.” She agreed.

“It’s just like breathing,” I added “you breathe it in, you breathe it out.”

“I don’t really think,” she clarified. “Then it happens as it goes. In a large project, as RL work, of course this was different, but I tried to keep it to SL for here :) As Josh said, SL is supposed to be my fun time. The thing is, I also learned, during the past decades, you will not be a bad person if you screw up or do not deliver…”

“You rush a miracle, you get a bad miracle.” said Juliette.

Caitlin agreed.

“Not that it makes it any more important or valuable, only different,” I said, “but the pressure I feel, that may make it different, is that whatever my idea is: I’m going to have to commit about 500 hours to it.”

“Just don’t lie to yourself and then automatically you don’t lie to others,” she replied. “It is really not the end of the world if you can’t come up with a new wonderful idea within 6 weeks. A weird and off topic experience I use for myself: when I was young, my worst nightmare would be a cheating husband and that he left me behind… I thought that would kill me. It happened… I survived, better than I thought and… it did not kill me.

“It’s why I keep saying: it is not, really NOT the end of your world when you do not get ‘the’ spark in 6 weeks, so what if you get it in 3 months… pff. That’s good, you will adapt.” she said.

Kay interjected: “As a planner by nature, I can understand Becky’s thinking with the 6 week deadline, best launch time, etc.”

I nodded with Kay, then asked myself, why am I compelled to do this on a schedule?

“Yes,” I concluded, “I think it’s because of when I want to plan holidays, and other things in RL too. I don’t want them to conflict with my window of time for development.

Kay nodded and said: “You’re looking at what the optimal situation would be. And you might just come up with something wonderful by then. But the challenge will be if you don’t… and I suspect you will roll with it if that happens, and brilliance will happen on its own schedule.”

“I am convinced,” Caity added. “It will fall into place anyway, being the planner you are, no matter the date on the calendar.

“We’ve got a lot of confidence in you.” smiled Kay.

Wow. This was just amazing. To have these supportive friends who cared enough to question your views, while standing by your side, believing in you. Everyone should have this, shouldn’t they?

It was Caity, however, that broke the bubble: “Well that gives expectations too, eh?”

And we laughed.

“Let me say, I would not think anything less of you and Harvey if you do not deliver for a year… or two.”

I put my hands on my face in horror and said: “That’s unthinkable!”

“But it’s true. I am not your friend because you make such good plays you know.” she smiled as she mischievously stuck out her tongue.

“I know I know.” I smiled, turning the attention over to Kay. Even so, this grilling was not over yet :)

Part 3 follows on Saturday.