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Creativity-Portal.com Creative Careers in the Arts Series
Chris Dunmire Interview : Page 2 of 3

Humorist & Creativity Enthusiast Chris Dunmire

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Nit Wits #42: PC Ant Farm © 2008 Chris Dunmire.Q: What is your favorite aspect of your job?

A: Seeing the energy of creative inspiration in action. I love it when someone e-mails me or blogs about an article, project, or interview featured on the Creativity Portal that's inspired them to reach higher in some way.

Q: What is your best advice for anyone who is just starting out in this industry?

A: Have passion and integrity for what you're doing. Know that whatever you're putting out there — whether it's information, a product, or a service — is going to impact someone else's life in some way. Now, imagine that person is your momma, best friend, or someone else you have the highest regard for. Treat your audience, your customers, and your online partners the same way. Value them. Appreciate them. Learn from them.

Q: How do you maintain energy and time for your personal life with such a busy schedule?

A: The answer I'd like to say is, "balance and self-care."

Q: Some artists and fellow creatives — especially those that work at home-tell me they have trouble with this balance, finding that their work is all-consuming, addictive, or tough to let go of at the end of the day. Can you speak to this issue from personal experience? How does one balance dancing with the Muses and the mundane (doing the dishes, walking the dog, laundry)?

A: Yes, work can be all-consuming, especially when you're in the creative zone or on a hot project. Having a home office makes work more accessible at odd hours, which can be a double-edged sword. But I also remember taking work home with me in my head when I punched a time clock and worked outside the house. These days with laptops, cell phones, and other electronic gadgetry, many willingly take their work home anyway, so I think the issue of balance is related to setting boundaries and paying more attention to your personal needs.

I work longer and harder at being self-employed than I did when I was employed. And that's not because I was a slacker! When you're self-employed, you have much more to manage, and your name, reputation, and business are all synonymous. At your old job, you showed up at 8 and left at 5. You had the weekends off. You had backup and support in the form of managers and co-workers who could share the load. Company accountants took care of your payroll. HR took care of your insurance and vacation days. IT took care of your computer. Your cube mate took care of ordering lunch. Now you take care of all that AND spend entire days on the phone with tech support reformatting your hard drive after a computer crash. No wonder it's tough to let go of work!

Some people aren't cut out to work for themselves. Some don't have the discipline or drive to do the work that needs to be done day after day in addition to the fun creative stuff without someone else telling them what to do. Others find it overwhelming and too much to handle. For those who thrive on the new lease on their working life, the inner drive that makes them successful can easily slip into overdrive

On balancing the Muses with the mundane? Cake tastes better than salad too, but someone's got to wash the clothes!

Q: In old tales and poems, many sources are found for the idea of a vampiric Muse; a hungry being who gives mortal beings inspiration and sucks them dry, leaving them old before their time. Do you find that a gift from the Muses always comes with a price you must pay?

A: Well… that's a comforting visual, Molly! We have choices about where we will spend our time and energy, not only in our creative endeavors, but in all areas of our life. Will you spend a half-hour arguing with your spouse over some misunderstanding or use that same time for your benefit to walk around the block, de-stress and get some exercise? That's a choice with a price to pay too. What do you get back?

Sometimes I get so wrapped up in a creative project that I can't let go until it's finished. I slip into "Edison" mode: work, sleep, work, eat, nap, work, sleep, work, etc., but all the while, something wonderful is happening to me, in me, and around me as I'm engaged in the project. If I didn't find it so worthwhile, expansive, or life-affirming, I wouldn't do it. I rarely continue with a creative project (or in people projects) if I feel it's draining me.

Q: The publishing world can be very high-stress. How do you keep yourself sane AND meet your deadline?

A: In managing the Creativity Portal with its multiple collaborators, I've found it imperative to be organized, consistent, and communicative with partners. Deadlines are reasonable, yet firm, in order for publishing schedules to be met.

My background in planning and scheduling transfers wonderfully into the Web publishing world. I keep sane by not procrastinating or leaving things undone until the last minute. I stick to a reasonable work schedule and communicate often with contributors about upcoming features, projects, and assignments. I maintain an attitude of flexibility all the while, knowing that this medium is very forgiving.

Q: What is your favorite way to treat yourself like a Queen? What is your secret guilty pleasure?

A: I have this jewel-studded crown that I like to wear some days. Oh, and you know that "Mirror, mirror, on the wall" spiel? Just watch me pass by a looking glass next time! Seriously, I like to get a monthly massage — but it's usually to help work out stiffened muscles acquired through long days at the computer.

Here's my secret guilty pleasure: You know those free food-fomercial samples you get at the supermarket? Well, sometimes instead of taking just one, I'll take two. Ha, stick a toothpick into that, Kraft!

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