by Lynda WilliamsMy happiest creative years, in which the Okal Rel Universe evolved, played out in the company of a handful of friends and family members who shared the stories.
Of course, one seldom realizes she's living through the best of times while doing so!
I was an achiever. I needed to believe it was all in aide of eventual success on a wider stage. And I got a goodly slice of living the dream for more than a decade, when a publisher took on the Okal Rel Saga as a 10-novel project. It was a large ambition for a small press, and for an author with a day job raising a family. But as my co-author at the time used to say, "Noboby told her it was impossible so the silly fool went ahead and did it."
Fairy tales end, and so did mine. I tried running a small press while still working fulltime. I'm proud of some of our accomplishments. But it wasn't sustainable in retirement. Although I'd bought back my rights from my publisher, I was done. I even started throwing away a book now and then, from the remaindered ones I'd acquired with my rights, to train myself to give it up and move on.
I was working in a library, at a part-time retirement job, when I discovered other creative people whose creative interests were part of their identity. We got to talking, and I came up with the idea of #slowculture as a position with respect to creativity that doesn't rely on success in the traditional sense. Slow culture is a way one can approach a creative endeavour. It stands for the right to be and do what is in you to be and do, without needing to hitch your wagon to someone else's definition of what it means to succeed at the endeavour.
We started a group to encourage each other ... just before Covid-19 restrictions put an end to groups gathering.
The idea of resurrecting my life-long collaborative fiction-making as #slowculture rattled around in my mind. Meanwhile, artist Michelle Milburn who did some of the covers for the first editions of the Okal Rel Saga, pitched me the idea of putting out the series on Wattpad. That got started in #slowculture mode, with Michelle doing fresh cover art.
And now, in 2021, the plan has evolved into the goal of setting up on Patreon to grow the Okal Rel Universe, and in the process invent a new way to collaborate and publish that I'm calling "word gaming". An approach that harks back to those happy years in which the Okal Rel Universe flourished.
While this may seem ambitious, I am not intimidated by it because I am going to be doing it as #slowculture. I'm going to do what feels right,and I'm going to be happy with making good connections with interested fans and collaborators. I won't need to be a "best seller" to keep being. It won't suck money like a press, because I'm going to give away the products. Patrons will pay for new material, and maybe, if they enjoy it, sponsoring art or even -- eventually -- collaborating on new stories, interactively, the way the whole thing evolved from the beginning. Word gaming. With products that will grow the universe.
In this endeavour, #slowculture is my zen. A simple thing, simultaneously ineffable. A position. A lack of breathless anxiety about "one day" and a dash of the innocence of childhood, nurtured by the wisdom of advancing years which make "now" too important to waste.