Sunday, June 19, 2022

Make Your Masterpiece on Stream

Throughout the lifespan of The Twitch Playbook, I’ve spoken about attempting the craziest stream ideas you can think of, letting your passions show themselves, and finding ways to let your channel enable you to reach your lifelong goals. Along the way, I’ve given examples of how Twitch has enabled me personally to reach unexpected heights and continually pay creative dividends. This time, I’m going to describe how my streaming passion has facilitated my biggest goal yet: thanks to my Twitch channel, I was able to illustrate and publish my own book! This is something I never thought I’d be able to do, and I’m still shocked to think that it’s really come true. We’ll go through my personal journey in accomplishing this task, as well as all the ways Twitch helped along the road. Even though you may have different goals, consider how your streaming skills might be able to enable your largest dreams, and where your channel might take you if you only stick with your streaming passion. 


I had a lot of fun creating this image
showing the actual fall of Troy.

As I mentioned in previous entries, I read a lot of books. And in the past few years, I’ve had a growing interest in Greek mythology. It’s such a rich tapestry of stories and characters, and it’s responsible (in one way or another) for inspiring most of the greatest artists across every medium, even to this day. At one point I came across a Greek epic, in the style of the ancient poet Homer, called Posthomerica. This was written in the 4th century AD, around a thousand years after Homer, and aimed to complete the arc of Homer’s stories (hence the name ‘post’ Homerica, or ‘after Homer’). Now, for anyone who knows Homer’s works, there’s a massive gap between the Iliad (the story of the Trojan war) and the Odyssey (the story of Odysseus returning from the Trojan war). The Iliad ends before the war is over, and many of the most famous events, like Achilles’ heel, the wooden horse, and the actual fall of the city, are not included within the Iliad’s pages. Posthomerica however, tells of all those things and much more, like how Troy was helped by Amazon warrior women, an African king, and even Hercules’ grandson, as well as many other amazing legendary events. These things were all part of the canon of Greek lore, but this was the only story which actually compiled them into one coherent narrative. I was shocked to find that Posthomerica, despite being arguably just as epic as Homer’s works, was mostly obscure among readers of the classics. And unlike Iliad and Odyssey, which each have dozens of audiobook editions available in stores, there wasn’t a single Posthomerica audiobook available on sale anywhere I could find. 

I became fascinated with the story, and in addition to wanting to hear an audiobook edition, I started thinking seriously about releasing my own text version. I got the rights to a classic translation of the text, and because I was publishing it myself, I was free to release the content as I saw fit. Of course, being who I am, that meant incorporating my Twitch channel into the process. 


As it would turn out however, my Twitch channel helped me to create this book years before I ever even began the project. Way back in the entry Attempt Your Worst Idea for a Twitch Stream, I talked about how I developed a show I could easily do while away from home. After trying several different ideas, I landed on the concept of coloring in a coloring book live on camera. It allowed me to revisit my passion for art, which I had been studying all my life before college, and it involved much less tech than trying to stream video games or other complicated ideas. In the years since writing that entry, the coloring book stream continued to evolve. I eventually got an iPad, and began learning to create digital art. I had always been trained in pencils, oils and acrylics, so using an Apple Pencil on a touch screen was a totally new experience for me. I decided that I would stream myself doing various art exercises I found online each time I traveled, to get more and more used to this new digital format. I didn’t do any digital art off-camera, but actually taught myself this new style entirely during the Twitch broadcasts. 

We even formatted and illustrated
the book & audiobook covers
live on stream. 

When I began thinking about publishing my edition of Posthomerica, I began kicking around the idea of illustrating the text edition myself. I grew fascinated by the artwork of classical Greek pottery, and decided I would create each chapter’s imagery in that style. Because I had begun teaching myself to use the iPad for my art, I used the iPad to illustrate the entire book, live on camera. Over the course of roughly 200 art streams, you can actually see my style continually improve, as I tried, failed, experimented, and revised over and over during my broadcasts. Not only were my dedicated stream hours an excuse to put in the immense amount of work required to illustrate a book, but I was teaching myself the craft live on stream as well! I quite literally would not have been able to create the illustrations without my Twitch channel. 

A similar thing happened when making the audiobook edition. After carefully studying the text for character motivations and pronunciations, I livestreamed various stages of my narration practice runs, the chapter narrations themselves, and the post-production editing process. These skills can also be traced back to Twitch streaming. In the entry Let Your Stream Passions Guide You in Life, I talked about how my love for reading the books I’d pick up in video games during my streams led me to creating a podcast where I narrated video game books, and that led me to becoming a full-fledged audiobook narrator on Audible. I also mentioned in previous entries how I used to stream the process of editing YouTube videos. This gave me the confidence and workflow needed to show my audio editing process while making the Posthomerica audiobook live on my channel, without having to figure out the process beforehand. 


This book was by far the largest project I’ve ever attempted. There were several points where I couldn’t imagine seeing the finish line, and I was often attacked by bouts of ‘impostor syndrome,’ thinking there was no way I was qualified to create such a major work. Throughout the entire process however, I simply followed the advice I always follow when streaming, and I kept going. No matter what, I pressed on, and derived joy from each little victory, rather than focusing on the final result. Being able to incorporate the process into my livestreams meant I could take some of the pressure off, by sharing the excitement with my community and dedicating stream hours to the project. After more than a year of work, countless off-stream hours, and 267 making-of broadcasts, I was finally finished. Posthomerica: The Fall of Troy was published on Amazon and Audible last month, and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. My Twitch channel allowed me to learn the lessons required, as well as dedicate the raw work hours, to make this dream into a reality. So the next time you’re getting ready to go live, think about what your Twitch channel can do for you. The fun, validation and communities we gain from streaming are all incredible gifts in themselves, but there’s a lot more you can accomplish with a Twitch channel, should you be interested in doing so. If you let your passions show themselves on stream, you never know where they might lead you. It’s possible that your channel could be the missing tool you need to create your next masterpiece. 

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