Creative Expansion: June 2024

by | Jul 9, 2024 | Personal Development

June was the month that changed everything. And even when you know something is on its way – like a Christmas gift – the joy is in finding out exactly how it arrives. That’s the part where the universe gets a full creative license.

Having begun new work at the end of May (more on this later), the dark, looming financial clouds started to clear and make way for a much sunnier scene. Miraculously, I also found substantial stuck money in my invoicing system and later in Amazon KDP book royalties.

On the home front, having spent the better part of three months searching for a home, my team was starting to get antsy and weary with limited responses. But by spreading our fingers out to friends and friends of friends, we finally managed to identify a more permanent home for me, and I moved in on July 1.

I did not publish any content in June, but I was laying plans for – and beginning to develop – new projects in the background.

Since that is mostly what I’ll be covering here, let’s segue into the essence of this letter. For those who want to know what will be covered, here’s a convenient bulleted list:

  • Full-Time Contract as Prompt Engineer
  • The 3 Project
  • Digital NO-Mad Exposing the Lies of the Freedom Lifestyle and Grass is Greener Syndrome
  • Local Recommendations Blog

Full-Time Contract as Prompt Engineer

Trying personal times were to follow the completion of my bread-and-butter staff writing contract in January 2024.

Having become a competent and skilled free agent, I was surprised by how little others had in store for me. I attempted to line up the few content writing, digital marketing, web development, and podcast sponsorship opportunities offered, but only the low-hanging fruit supplied any juice. That left me with pennies on the dollar.

Undeterred, I pressed on with my live music and multimedia event, Clean Slate, in February. Some may assume Clean Slate was the problem, but it was merely the symptom, not the root cause. More on this shortly.

In the months that followed (documented in a book to be released, The Ferry Letters), I had altogether too much time to spend in reflection and deep internal work. To my surprise, though, it proved essential to my caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation.

The culprit of my ongoing challenges had much more to do with who I was hanging around than what I was doing. I’ll cite an excerpt from a yet-unpublished ferry letter:

Even if you’ve got superhuman wills of steel, how you’re treated by others will eventually affect your sense of self. There’s a significant difference between being seen merely as a worker and a human being. On the one hand, you’re being paid and valued for the task you complete, which will only ever be worth what the company deems… On the other hand, you’re being seen for the holistic value you bring to the project, including the many intangibles that add value to the customer, client, team, or company.

I wasn’t working with people who understood or even valued those intangibles. There are many intangibles I bring to the table (that’s consistent with the way others experience me). But in this client relationship, there was zero value placed on anything other than tasks completed. This impacted my sense of worth long-term.

It took a while, but I finally found the next step in my creative evolution in April. I completed a lengthy onboarding process (not their fault – there were insane delays, including the arrival of company equipment, which impacted my ability to start sooner) to begin work as a prompt engineer with TEKsystems at Meta toward the end of May.

This full-time contract has been a godsend in every way imaginable, and I’ve been having a blast on the job. Of course, I’ve had to reorient my schedule and life around this new role – something I haven’t completely figured out yet – but it’s been a very positive and welcome change.

The 3 Project

The 3 Project

I can’t, at this time, recall exactly when conversations for The 3 Project began, but I suspect the wheels were in motion as early as 2021, with semi-regular phone calls and meetings to discuss the event.

Our executive producer, Frederick Tamagi, acted as the project’s visionary, championing the idea of bringing together three distinct artists to share their stories and works of poetry and music, backed by an all-pro jazz band (and even those are words insufficient to describe their proficiency but watch the videos and see for yourself).

I was brought on as the associate producer of the project, and I am eternally grateful to have had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bring this production to the world. In some ways, it was like raising a child, as I was deeply involved in the marketing strategy, and acted as the lighting and PowerPoint tech on show nights.

The 3 Project may sound uncomplicated on paper. In practice, it was a journey riddled with landmines, not all of which I’m at liberty to disclose. But I think it’s fair to say hearts were shaken and possibly even shattered by personnel changes and trying personal circumstances – injury, surgery, financial struggles, and in my case, the events of Digital NO-Mad (more on this later).

The 3 Project took the stage on December 1 and 2, 2022. I know that, to some of you, that will seem a long time ago. I bring it up now because 1) I didn’t have the opportunity to cover it in the capacity it deserved last year, and 2) our journey as producers didn’t end after “lights out.”

The entire performance was captured by a professional sound engineer and video crew, and we had always intended to share the chapters with viewers like you. This project has finally been completed and the videos are being shared more broadly.

There are over 20 videos and including them here will no doubt bring the loading times of this page to a crawl, but I’m going to post them anyway, and I hope you enjoy them. I would love to hear what you think, and I suspect Fred would too (I will happily pass on your comments to him).

Digital NO-Mad: Exposing the Lies of the Freedom Lifestyle and Grass is Greener Syndrome

Digital NO-Mad by David Andrew Wiebe

If you’ve reviewed my book launch schedule, then you know by now that I’m launching a new book every quarter. It is ambitious, but then again, all manuscripts are at various stages of completion, and in most cases, very close to completion.

Per Dan Kennedy, I’m a big believer in learning when to call something “good enough.” If I were working with a publisher, no doubt they would have different thoughts about what should go in the book, and whether an author should launch more than one book in a year. This is a case where being independent and getting to call the shots is honestly gratifying.

June saw the release of my latest, Digital NO-Mad: Exposing the Lies of the Freedom Lifestyle and Grass is Greener Syndrome, and paperback and hardcover versions also landed on July 7, 2024.

The book documents a 90-day out-of-control tailspin that left me feeling quite ambivalent about the prospect of continuing to live out of Airbnbs and working while traveling, something I had begun doing in 2019, and returned to in 2022, post-pandemic.

The journal entries that form the bulk of the book were published on Steemit. So far, I don’t think I’ve found anyone brave enough to comb through that lot, but if you’re the adventurous type, you’re welcome to give it a go. Let me know if you do.

I think the books offer a much better reading experience, though. The Kindle, paperback, and hardcover versions are all subtly different in terms of content, and they each have different covers too. Given that the book contains footnotes, though, the paperback and hardcover versions are recommended, though the Kindle version is sufferable.

The hardcover costs the most since it uses high-quality color paper. This is the first time I’ve ever used color in a book, and that is one of the ways I got to expand creatively through this project. But there isn’t anything I can do about the price – I will make pennies on the dollar already and would make nothing charging less (which I don’t think is an option with Amazon KDP).

I’ve probably answered most questions concerning the book in audio updates on my Telegram channel, but if there’s still anything you’re wondering about, let me know so I can guide you in the right direction.

Local Recommendations Blog

Local recommendations blog

My coverage will not include Ricky’s…

With Digital NO-Mad in tow, and The Ferry Letters soon to come, the thought had occurred to me that I might want to target a new audience with fresh content – the kind of people that might be interested in reading my travelogs.

If that wasn’t enough:

  • My ongoing food adventures have been a frequent topic of conversation among friends.
  • I have reportedly “changed lives” with some of my restaurant recommendations.
  • My vertical as a prompt engineer is in local recommendations.

So, starting a local recommendations blog felt like the natural thing to do, and I have been quietly developing the content in the background.

As with many creatively expanding projects I intend to take on, this is not a project that will necessarily receive regular updates but will probably expand as my coverage grows.

With any luck, the project will be ready to launch by September.

Closing Thoughts

How did you expand yourself in June? What new things did you try? How did you challenge yourself?

Leave a comment below and let us know!