Toward the end of April, as people began to plan WisCONline — the virtual WisCon — I got a notice that my academic paper for the con had been accepted and that they wanted a video presentation.
About the same time, I saw that Story Center was offering an online class in using WeVideo. Although I took one of their classes in digital storytelling about four years back and learned the basics of WeVideo, I had a lot of gaps in my knowledge since I hadn’t done any new videos.
I decided to sign up for the class with the goal of making a video for WisCon. That way I could do something besides a talking head of me reading the paper.
There were two problems with this plan. First, the 15-minute presentation would be considerably longer than the usual 2-3 minute videos Story Center works with.
Second, the paper wasn’t written yet. Once WisCon decided to cancel the in-person convention, I hadn’t expected them to want a paper. Also, in my previous academic papers for WisCon, I had still been putting the final touches on the paper the day of the presentation.
But I felt inspired and signed up for the class, even told the teacher my grandiose plan at the first meeting.
Then I looked at the WisCONline deadline and remembered that the paper wasn’t written yet. And knew that I didn’t want, in these fraught times, to put in the amount of time and effort necessary to do a decent job. Since I’m not an official academic who needs to present and publish papers, but rather an independent scholar who does this for my own satisfaction, I was free to make this choice.
It might seem like I’d made a bad call in signing up for the class, but in fact, it was the best thing I’ve done in the last couple of months (outside of finishing some revisions on my novel that’s coming out next year from Aqueduct Press). The class got my creative juices flowing. I had all kinds of ideas.
While Story Center in its digital storytelling workshops has people start with a written script and then find pictures, videos, and sound to go with it, the teacher challenged us to start with collecting images. That was intimidating to me, as a wordsmith, but I decided to try it.
I’ve been both angry and scared as the pandemic shot out of control in the United States, so I started looking for images and sound related to my rage and fear. Then, of course, I needed to find a response to that, because those negative emotions were eating me up.
I eventually added words, because words are what I do. But the best part is that in the process, I got a grip on myself. I’m still angry as hell, and I still get scared, but making this two and a half minute video helped me get my center back.
I’ve got a long way to go before I develop any real mastery of video editing tools, but I’ve got a lot of ideas to play with right now. It’s fun to play with a new art form. My goal is to make new videos regularly so that I can build my skills. I don’t have any professional ambitions; this, like my academic papers, is just something I want to do for myself.
But I like sharing things. So here’s Rage Fear Center. A word of warning. It starts with Rage and the music is loud and relentless. (I went looking for images and sound that reflected my anger.) If you think that might bother you, be sure to turn the sound down.