Today marks the official launching of a new website, https://dkwall.com, that will showcase all of my creative products in a single place. It replaces other websites that were dedicated to particular types of projects like photography and short stories.
But before describing the changes, I provide background of why I do what I do. So let’s call this – Journeys, Detours and Destinations.
The journey began with a love of reading.
A kid’s library card unlocks adventures for the imagination. After mastering the early readers, I migrated to science fiction and adventure stories.
Jack London transported me to the magic of the north through Call of the Wild and White Fang, though the short story To Build A Fire remains the most vivid in its descriptions of cold.
Arthur C. Clarke helped me escape the earth with 2001: A Space Odyssey, but my favorite was Rendezvous with Rama. Rama was a glorious world full of surprises, but the biggest surprise came when you realized how irrelevant the human characters were.
The poetic phrasing and dark twists of Edgar Allen Poe haunted me then – and haunt me now.
S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders introduced me to the world of Ponyboy Curtis. I wanted Ponyboy to stay with his brothers, Darrell and Sodapop. I rooted for Johnny Cade and prayed Dallas Winston would find peace.
But the book that opened the door for me? The one I read over and over (and re-read just a year ago)? When I was 14 years old, Stephen King published The Stand. The epic story itself is the universal battle of good and evil, but the characters were magical. To this day, I think of Stu Redman, Larry Underwood, Fran Goldsmith, Tom Cullen, Nick Andros, Glen Bateman, Ralph Bretner and even Kojak.
So, if I enjoyed reading so much as a teenager, why didn’t I write?
I did. A lot.
Personal computers didn’t exist, so I wrote long-hand. Page after page of short stories and a few novel-length projects.
Fortunately, the first novel met the same fate as most of the short stories – oblivion. The characters were weak; the plot predictable – a group of teenagers who took over their high school. Typical adolescent angst story. And, innocently, long before the days of Columbine. Unlike those great books above, I can’t remember the name of a single character.
But that’s not true of every story. A few have rattled in my brain over the years, the characters still very much alive. They have survived move after move, always lurking in the shadows for me to touch again. I have file folders filled with pages of their scribbled stories.
Alas, a career interfered. I graduated from college with an accounting degree. Funny thing about accounting – few people want to associate it with creativity, so I buried the writer.
After several years of accounting work, I completed a Masters degree in finance. Creativity is much more appreciated in the finance world, though not as tall tales and stories. The writer remained hidden.
I immersed myself into a finance career. The work was challenging, the hours were long, and the travel was extensive. Most weeks started and ended at airports. Because of the work, I have been able to see much of the world, meet many interesting people, and do a lot of fun things.
I didn’t have time to read. At least not for pleasure. I read thousands of financial reports, economic studies, and business plans. And writing time was dedicated to more of the same.
But I still carried my unique way of looking at things to storytelling. Something happens to a group of friends and my perspective, my memory is always different and colorful. Sometimes I see the humor in a serious situation. Sometimes I see the seriousness in a funny situation. Sometimes I understand someone’s motivation differently. And sometimes (usually in the middle of a serious business meeting), I see the absurdity.
At lunch one day, I had everyone laughing riotously at a saga we had been through just a week earlier. A listener caught a breath from laughing and commented, “Man, I wish I had been there.”
I looked at her in surprise and said, “But you were.”
“Yeah,” she agreed, “But you remember it far better than I do.”
And that’s the best way to describe a story teller. We aren’t historians; we remember it “better.”
The Thundering Herd
My journey back to writing came through a strange angle – the merging of my dogs with the internet.
Traveling the way I did, weekends were special. We spent the time catching up on chores, but also in exploring our mountains and walking our dogs. At the time, we owned two mutts (kinda a Chow and kinda a Corgi) plus a Siberian Husky. The mutts were typical dogs that believed in training and obedience. The Siberian Husky was a juvenile delinquent.
Having no experience with the crazy breed, I joined a group called Sibernet-L – an old Listserv back in the early internet days (the group still exists). I sought advice for training a notoriously crazy breed, but I received a path back to storytelling. Talented members told funny tales. Tentatively, I added a few of own.
That would have been it except for two things – the birth of the internet and losing that mischievous Siberian Husky, Nikita.
I made the fateful decision to understand HTML well enough to manage internet IT projects at work. Since the only way to learn is to do, I built my own personal website using only HTML. Since I needed a subject, I created the website to commemorate Nikita and her antics. I posted a few of those Sibernet stories I had written on that website just so I could understand how to post text and images.
To my surprise, people visited the website. They read the stories. They commented on them. And they invited me to visit their own websites.
I had stumbled on the early years of dog blogging.
I rebuilt my original website, renamed it, and provided it a much more marketable URL – The Thundering Herd hit the internet in 2007. In ten years, the website now has over 3,000 posts – a lot of writing practice that was taking place in hotel rooms at night all around the world based on the crazy shenanigans that happened on the weekends.
The website also brings me the ever amusing – and humbling – realization that the dogs are big celebrities everywhere I go, even when people have no clue who I am. A classic encounter years ago explains it all. A couple stopped their car and exclaimed in delight at seeing us exiting a hiking trail. “We remember you,” they exclaimed. After a slight pause, the wife elaborated, “Well, not you, but the dogs.”
Writing a daily blog about the lives of the dogs did more than just practice my writing skills. Photography skills were needed. I learned the difference between the snapshots I had always taken and the art of photography. Many patient photographer friends critiqued my work, taught me about light, and challenged me to improve.
Each weekend, I would take hundreds of photographs to get the 20 or so I would need to write that week’s blog posts. Like anything else, constant repetition mixed with plentiful criticism will lead you to better and better results.
And photography leads to videography. If a picture is good for a blog, a video is great.
The Magic Step
Three years ago, I made one of the best decisions of my life. After years of airplanes, hotels, and ridiculous hours in the corporate world – I walked away.
I wanted the simple pleasure of being at home every night for dinner, of sharing our lives around the table rather than via a check in phone call every night and harried weekends between travels. I wanted to walk the dogs every night, not just a few hiking trails on weekends. I wanted to sleep in my own bed every night.
And so, I was home every day. I had time to read for pleasure. I could write for a few hours every day. I dedicated time to photography. I created more videos. I took courses learning the various tools in the Adobe suite, including animation.
The problem has been that I created different outlets for each of these interests. Photographs went one place. Short stories another. I created a brand new YouTube channel for an animation project and prepared to post more.
And I found myself with several websites, dozens of social media channels, lots of background work, and mass confusion for anyone trying to follow what I was doing.
And I kept working on The Thundering Herd website because, as that long-ago encounter demonstrated, far more people know the dogs than me.
It helps they keep me grounded.
So I have simplified things with two websites.
The Thundering Herd will continue as it always does, dedicated to the dogs and their stories. It is a fun mix of writing, photography, and videography. The stories create themselves, particularly since I now work from my study in the house, surrounded by their furry nonsense every day. Their fans will continue to enjoy their antics while I stay in the background as their chauffeur, chef, and chronicler.
DKWall (https://dkwall.com) will be everything else. Photography of the beautiful area we are blessed to live in. The fascinating world of Timelapse Photography. Animated shorts that reveal my warped way of looking at the things that happen around me.
And short stories. I have dozens of unpublished short stories that need editing and publishing. No doubt that more will spring into my head.
And, yes, I confess, I have several longer writing projects in various stages – a couple in final edits now. That part scares me more than anything else for some odd reason, but I feel like I need to see what will happen with them.
One of them was written over 30 years ago (no, not the dreadful high school story) and deserves to see the light of day. Its characters have bounced around in my head long enough and need out.
The website will have all of the stories and photographs. Social media is used to alert you to new postings. Feel free to follow however you like through whatever social media you wish. The options are this:
Email – You can sign up to be added to a mailing list to be notified of all new postings here. I promise to never – never – sell or share your email address with anyone else. I hate spam and refuse to create it. If you ever decide to unsubscribe, you can do so with a single click and will be immediately – repeat, immediately – removed from the mailing list.
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DKWallAuthor/ (Yes, there are two Facebook pages. I am working with Facebook to get those merged, but the one here will be the official one).
Twitter – https://twitter.com/d_k_wall
Google Plus – https://plus.google.com/+DKWall
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/dkirkwall/
Tumblr – https://dkwall.tumblr.com/
In addition, I will share specific content through two other social media outlets:Instagram –
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/d.k.wall.photography/ Because of the nature of Instagram, this will be used just to share some – not all – of my photographs.
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/dkwall – Videos will always be embedded into a post on the website, but I will use YouTube as the vehicle to run the video. Thus, you can also see the videos on my YouTube channel
Thanks for following to this point of the journey. I am glad you have traveled this far with me. I look forward to seeing where the journey will go from here and hope you come along for the ride.