Van Life: In The Beginning

“That was the captivation of it to me. If it had ever been meant to be lived in, I might have thought it small, or inconvenient, or lonely; but never having been designed for any such use, it became a perfect abode.” – David Copperfield (Charles Dickens)

I moved into my rolling home, affectionately nicknamed The Sylvan, a month ago. Now that my build is functionally complete, I have more time to focus on activities like writing. It would also be fair to say that it is because my build is at the liveable stage that I am writing in the first place.

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Van Life: Moving House

What if the house you built with your own two hands was capable of moving to any forest, lake, or city?” That is the question pondered in my first monthly van life column for The Selkirk Sentinel. This series of articles will cover the whys and hows of entering and living life in the ex-cargo box of my 1990 GMC Grumman Olson Step Van.

Already some interesting challenges have presented themselves. In my first few weeks, I had to get stitches in my thumb (I lost a knife fight with an avocado) and an attempt was made to break into the van while I was laying in bed. Those small moments of negativity may once have seemed more significant. But the sheer volume of greater experiences has already faded their memory. I’ve parked by streams and rivers with my kayak and rod ready to go when I wake, in moss covered forests, and at the base of hiking trails. Ok yes, there were a few parking lots but those don’t seem so strange any longer. The first month has gone very well. Looking forward, I am filled with excitement and anticipation.

Fear of Success

Does anyone else start procrastinating near the end of a large project? I’m so close to getting the van to a move-in-ready stage but I find myself staring at simple things and thinking they will never get done. Then I put them off instead of doing them or I start a small quick project instead of working on the essential to-do list. The last day I worked on the van I built a cabinet at the foot of the bed, a bookshelf, and a divider. Today I panelled 3/4 of the couch. That’s 11 identical boards screwed in a straight row. Not the best day’s work to be sure.
I’ve noticed this tendency before. When success is close, I start throwing obstacles in my own way. When there are no obstacles I start to feel helpless and despondently procrastinate. The conclusion which I have drawn is that I am afraid to succeed. Afraid to finish something and move on. I am comfortable with the routine of building my new home. A part of me doesn’t want to give that up. What will I do with myself when it comes time to put down the hammer and start living my life? What will that even look like? I don’t know.
What I do know is that the hammer needs to remain swinging for now.

Converting a Step Van into a TINY HOUSE!

I began this process a few weeks ago when I purchased a pre-converted 1990 Grumman Olson. The interior was not at all to my liking. Over the past week, I have torn out the interior, kept the appliances, and begun design on a new layout. The van came with a cosy wood stove which I will be keeping. That and the immoveable wheel wells have informed the design process. I’ve used Google Sketchup to create a few layouts. These two are the current winners.

Any advice is of course appreciated. I’ll be making more frequent video updates here: https://www.youtube.com/callumscornucopia

HouseBreaking

A last-minute publication has been added to The Black Bear Review!

“HouseBreaking” is the second poem of mine to be featured in the publications third issue. If you’ve ever wondered what my creative/poetic process feels like from the inside, this meta-poem is one of many possible answers.

To read this poem or any of the other work featured in the December issue click the link below to below:

The Black Bear Review: HouseBreaking

The Black Bear Review: Ascending Rearward

Predawn Footprints

overhead a slow accumulation
of white drifts on frozen sky
dancing in the air formlessly
fated to sink beneath
black heels, rubber spiked

predawn streetlamps
far less electric
than their daytime cousins
hold close promises of pale slumber

with each breath of frigid air
the snowplowed banks encourage
my breaking of new earth

each heretical footprint
leaving behind ice-blue

shadows on the carpet Continue reading

Ascending Rearward

The best holiday present I’ve received so far? It has to be having my poetry featured once again in The Black Bear Review.

The poem “Ascending Rearward” began its conception in the months after my nuclear family lost our matriarch, Helen. I wrote down an early draft of the final stanza last year around this time. I worked on several versions of the poem but was unable to manifest a workable piece. It took over a year of sitting in a cluttered file buried somewhere in the digital scrapheap of my hard drive for the shape of the finished poem to finally manifest.

I am very pleased that the editors of The Black Bear Review chose this piece to be featured. To read this poem or any of the other work featured in the December issue click the link below to below:

The Black Bear Review: Ascending Rearward

A Lot Can Improve in Half a Year

Night Crone

I started this piece on May 15, 2017, as a part of my Oracle Deck. I ended up with the image on the right which didn’t fit in well with the deck. This is partly because it feels less grounded than the other cards and partly because it was really poorly done. Creatively, I sometimes find myself painted into a corner (metaphorically or otherwise). When this happens I find that the best solution is to set the entire piece down. This one had to sit for six months, but the end result is a finished work which feels like it belongs in the mystical world which I am creating.

Creating a Witches & Wizards Fantasy Oracle Deck

I’ve been working on a series of fantasy pieces for a potential oracle deck. Each piece is created in Photoshop using photo manipulation and free-use imagery from Google. My goal for each card is to create an image which is rich in magick and meditative mysticism. Creating each character and their surrounding environments is an essential part of that process. I want each card to convey its themes without the use of any outside material. The Regent, for example, looks somewhat melancholic despite her material wealth and majestic backdrop. I have had to discard several pieces which I dearly like because the art simply did not have the meditative quality I was trying to achieve. Perhaps those pieces will find a home in some other project.

I made a video talking about the personal process of creating one’s own oracle cards. At the end of that video, there is a quick slideshow where I flip through the various photoshop layers of several cards. I also created a time-lapse of the entire two-hour process of creating The Sage card.

THE PRINTED WORD

Somewhere in the stacks
all answers surely lie.

Within these book-lined walls
the printed words appear infallible.

Bound in illustrated manuals
once stamped by printing blocks
— gold foiled.

Dust jacket PhD’s promise wholeness
for the price of $19.99
— softcover.

The storefront clerk offers insight,
assaying each by way of conversation.

For a lust for truth will go un-sated
on pyrite printed letters.


The second issue of The Black Bear review came out last month featuring an appropriately titled poem by yours truly. The magazine is quite literally a work of art with phenomenal displays of colour and artistry alongside the literary works of a great number of talented writers. Some of those writers shared a classroom with me this year, and call me biased, theirs are some of the wittiest and most moving pieces in the collection.

The cover art Guilt Trip by Jesse Stasiuk blew me away. The quality of this first print issue of the magazine itself is superb. I am very proud to have my work featured alongside so many brilliant pieces. Many thanks to everyone involved with the project and Selkirk’s creative writing faculty.

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