Of all the software in my home studio, the one used the least is Sibelius. I have a bunch of old scores from my days as a would-be composer that I’d like to transcribe or re-transcribe, but I haven’t squeezed out that time yet.
So to justify the expense of having bought the software, I created scores for NaSoPiAlMo 2006. I originally recorded the MIDI playback of those pieces for the album, but now I’d like to record them live. I thought to myself, "Wouldn’t it be neat if I could work off of a score book, like my Beethoven and Bach pieces?"
Sibelius doesn’t do book formatting, but QuarkXpress does. So I exported my piano scores to EPS and fashioned a book out of it. Then I went to Lulu to see about printing it up. After poring over the help section of the site, I added a cover, title page and copyright page to the book. Then I loaded it up.
Huh. That was easy. What else can I get printed up?

That’s when I remembered Double-A had used my computer once to write a short story. It was still there. Her birthday is coming up, and I thought, "Huh. What would this story look like in print?"
So I fired up QuarkXpress again and formatted that story as well. Instead of going with a canned cover, I wanted to create my own. The story begins with a chase scene across a number of rooftops, so I pictured some blurry photos of downtown buildings at night, with streaks of light running vertically on the cover.
Rather than browse for someone else’s photo, I went to downtown Austin one Saturday night with my digital camera and just wandered around taking random shots. The very last one was what I picked for the cover.
I decided to load all those photos to my Flickr account, and as I watched the Uploadr read the files on the hard drive, the thumbnails formed a kind of animation. That gave me another idea. What if I could craft a music video using nothing but a series of pictures? Moving images, of course, are nothing but a series of pictures shown in rapid succession (24 frames per second, in fact.)
At the same time, I realized I would never really shop around the one and only novel I’ve so far written to publishers or agents, so I fired up QuarkXpress once more and started laying out that book to print at Lulu. In laying it out, I went back and rewrote a few scenes, changed a few details. It got me thinking about these characters again and wondering what’s happened in the years that I haven’t really been thinking about them.
While I waited for the books to be printed, I started shooting some footage for the video around downtown Austin. I would take some high-speed pictures, import them into a video editor, set each image to three frames and export an MPEG. After seeing all the jerky, hand-held footage, I decided to get a tripod.
The tripod lets me take some fairly adventurous self-portraits, and I thought, can I make a music video with the video function on my camera? So during the July 4 weekend, I mugged in front of the camera and spent a day in a marathon of editing. Before I could finish the idea of my first music video, I had another one already done.
Now I’m coming up with ideas for new videos or new stories. New music, I’m somewhat and oddly relieved to report, has been squeezed out.
What started out as a justification to use some software has ended up turning into many separate projects — writing, publishing, photography, video.
Sometimes I think I work too much.