Mike! Where Have You Been?
Whatever happened to......
Where have I been, indeed? On February 6th, 2011 I wrote my most recent article for HubPages: “Why Do Artists Create?” I wrote about spreading a little love around for artists who put themselves on the line for their craft and are so often met with indifference or outright derision. The perhaps overly emotional tone of that piece was in part a response to several things that had recently occurred. The first was my removal from the Google Adsense program. Someone had flooded an article of mine with ad clicks, and the whopping $2 and change this underperforming ad placed in my coffers escaped my attention. Google assumed I was scamming them and dropped me from their Adsense program. I always played by the book, and I was angry that I became a victim of someone’s random actions. The second incident occurred a few weeks later and involved a young man who posted readings of HubPages poetry on a YouTube site. The intent was less than flattering—this person’s goal was to mock HubPages writers and their work. I asked YouTube to remove his rendition of a poem I wrote, and they canceled his account. He regained it within three weeks, re-posted the material and offered a profane response to me in his comments upon his return. I have thick skin, but I was tired and offended. I needed a break.
There were other issues, as well. I wished to stamp my DNA onto a business and industry that has paid the bills for me since I was a young man. I was working longer hours than ever at this “daytime” job, and I have discovered I am not as young as I used to be. The sustained effort took its toll, and continues to do so as I have regularly contributed fifty and sixty hour weeks to my job. My craft suffered along the way. I just haven’t had the energy for writing and artwork. I confess the dishes haven’t always been washed promptly upon finishing dinner, either.
While I haven’t contributed regularly to HubPages or other online venues, I haven’t been idle, either. What has Mike been doing, you ask?
Have you seen this man?
What does a guy in self-imposed exile do?
Most of those who know me from HubPages are aware that I haven’t disappeared entirely. I periodically comment on my activities via Facebook, Twitter and other sites. I have also discovered Pinterest, and I’ve found “pinning” things I like on “boards” to be fun and interesting. It has offered me a new perspective on the things I enjoy, as I caught myself pondering not only what I like, but why. As a mosaic of interests grows daily on Pinterest, I have searched for insights into my personality and psyche that might promote an increased self-awareness. Perhaps I’m thinking too hard about a simple collection of photos, but that’s okay. Posting on Pinterest has been an attractive diversion that I heartily recommend.
I have also experimented with technology during my exile. I realized that tapping away on my aging laptop computer was inherently limiting. I acquired an iPad 2, and a friend has allowed me to tinker on occasion with an ASUS tablet to explore the rival android technology. Social Media and the tools to facilitate its use are rapidly evolving, and I am convinced that understanding this phenomenon will make it easier in the future to thrive as a creator. A failure to embrace this new age of gadgets could be as self-defeating as continuing to use Zip-A-Tone following the advent of home computers. I am hardly an expert with this new technology, but I have been intrigued with these tools and their effect on our lives. They are certainly more than toys, and they will allow us to communicate in a manner that most of us still understand only in vague ways. The iPad and android tablets will shape how we create, although the way it will do so is not entirely defined. I may not be ahead of the curve in this regard, but I’m working not to fall behind, either.
The Autobiography of Mike Lickteig.
If there has been a theme of introspection and self-discovery in my year of self-imposed isolation, it is most evident in the time I have spent writing my autobiography. Anyone who has read my autobiographical articles might recall that I have described some fairly unusual occurrences that have taken place over the years. I wished to recount them in a cohesive manner before time eroded my memory of events. Some things I recall as if they happened yesterday. Other things I thought I would remember forever have become less clear over time, and I wanted to document events before they became mere fragments of memories. To that end I have contributed over 500 pages of reminisces, and there is still more to recount. Incidents are recalled and truths are revealed here. The book will answer questions and tell stories no one has yet heard. The end result might be of interest only to me, but that’s okay. The stories will endure for anyone interested in knowing them.
A Working Class Philosophy.
I have watched the Occupy Wall Street Movement and its subsequent effect on other cities (and the upcoming political campaigns) with great interest. This is a critical time for working class men and women in the United States, and I believe what happens politically and economically within the next five years will define how lower and middle-class families live for generations to come. The Occupy Wall Street Movement convinced me there is no true voice speaking for the working class in the United States, and that is what is needed most—someone to address the concerns of working people while articulating a philosophy of pride and honor and commitment. The working class has always been the one essential segment of society; civilization could not function without the products of labor.
It would be presumptuous of me to assert that I am the voice of the common man, and that is not my ambition. I am, however, interested in further studies of class issues and articulating my own views on this most important topic.
A new beginning?
The Second Coming of Mike Lickteig
What are my goals? What do I want to accomplish with my words and pictures? The answer is not simple. I will look to more clearly define my work as an online writer and focus on a few themes important to me. As stated above, I hope to find a forum for the discussion of class issues that the United States in particular must address to thrive as a nation. I will ask questions and seek answers.
Another topic I feel qualified to address is the plight of creators. I am a writer and an artist, and I know from experience the issues facing creative people. Artists are subjected to judgments and criticisms not found in other fields of expertise, and because we put so much of ourselves into our work, we are sometimes wounded by the opinions of others, both personally and professionally. Artists are amazing people that contribute to an upward trend in our universe. They have a voice in their words and pictures, but that voice is not unified or necessarily even understood. I would love to help the world understand creators.
I also hope to pick up where I left off with other online writing efforts. While my basketball articles were deathly dull to most of my readers, I simultaneously found a following that began seeing me as an “expert”. I hope whoever might still be reading my work will indulge the hoops junkie that yet lurks inside me. Talking basketball isn’t deep, but there is an interest in it out there I hope to connect with.
As time permits, I will venture into other topics, just as I always have in the past. I must follow my heart and write about what interests me at the moment—I have no desire to stay within pre-determined creative parameters. I will continue to share stories from personal experience, armed with the personal memoirs I have labored over within the last few months. As in the past, if I want to also write an article about Star Trek or Gilligan’s Island, I will.
Am I back to stay? I hope so, but I don’t really know yet. There are still expenses to meet, and while my writing and artwork is a profession and not a hobby, the money I make as a creator isn’t steady enough to pay the bills—at least, not all of them. I am hoping to correct this, but a lot can happen while I work toward transitioning into a new phase of my life. This article is an invitation for you to join me in my travels. It should be a pretty wild ride.
August 27, 2012: An Update
I'm back, but perhaps few of you have noticed yet. I have written one piece about college basketball since writing these words--hardly cause for celebration. And yet, in a very real sense I am back. I am seeing HubPages more clearly than before, and understanding its role in my creative endeavors. I have realized its value in connecting me to the community of writers that contribute to this site, but I have also been able to more accurately assess what this writing site means for my future work. I will still be here interacting with the wonderful and talented people who write for HubPages. I don't expect that to ever go away. In the future, however, this will likely be just one of many places readers will find my work.
I hope you will continue to look for me, wherever I am, and I thank you for reading and leaving comments.