Before the big announcement, some background…

When I was a kid, a big box of crayons with a sharpener represented, for me, full creative potential. It heightened my heart rate. It inspired adrenaline. It made me want to make stuff.

But, on my family’s budget, it was too expensive — especially when we already had some crayons and colored pencils in the house. And so, that super-sized set came to represent something just out of reach: the capacity to bring all of the colors to life.

I can hardly complain. That creatively ambitious kid grew up to have more than his share of opportunities to do creative work and share it with the world. This year marks the tenth anniversary of my first two books: the novel Auralia’s Colors, and my memoir of dangerous dangerous moviegoing Through a Screen Darkly. Having been granted those unexpected, unlikely opportunities — and the subsequent publications, speaking opportunities, and teaching work — I live in a state of perpetual gratitude. What’s more, I’m blessed with a creative, supportive community.

Jeffrey Overstreet, by Ken Priebe

But I’m not interested in looking back and settling for nostalgia. Any opportunity I’ve had to tell stories, write reviews, edit other people’s work, publish, speak, and teach has felt like practice for the next thing.

So I’m still reaching — wanting a chance to share more stories and bring new ideas into the world. In recent years, increasing pressures and troubles have forced me to postpone or give up on a variety of dreams and projects. I lack the resources, the connections, the opportunities, and the time — especially the time — to realize my creative visions to my own satisfaction. (There won’t be more novels anytime soon unless I find the kind of work that makes a project of that magnitude possible.)

Meanwhile, all around me I see vibrant, creative people struggling to make ends meet and fighting to keep their own artistic visions alive, hoping to bring light into a darkening world.

So I’ve decided to start something new. Something creative. Something that I can manage in the midst of a difficult and demanding schedule.

I call it…

Listen to Episode One here.

This opening episode begins with a long introduction: a letter that I’ve written to the most mysterious person in my life.

Then, I welcome a special guest.

Robert Deeble

And that’s just the beginning.

Moving forward, you’ll find the episodes become unpredictable. I aim to misbehave.

It will be fun. I’ll host interviews with special guests about their own creativity. I’ll do some storytelling — glimpses of new and unpublished fiction. I’ll share poetry readings — in my voice and in the voices of the actual poets. I’ll premiere new music from musicians I love. I’ll review movies (of course). There will be conversations about artmaking, about the writing life, and about how to keep hope and creativity alive. There will be discussions and debates about movies. And much, much more than that.

I hope that this new Looking Closer audio journal — My Box of 64 — will provide for you some creative inspiration. I hope it will introduce you to exciting new art, artists, and ideas. And I hope it will prompt you to share with the rest of us the work that is inspiring you creatively.

Here’s how you can be part of the show:

Follow My Box of 64 on Twitter, and engage the conversation there. Selections from those exchanges will become part of upcoming episodes.

Follow the Looking Closer with Jeffrey Overstreet Facebook page, where a lot of My Box of 64 updates, previews, surprises, and opportunities for listeners to participate will be posted.

Add to your contacts. Why? You can send emails to ask questions, share anecdotes, and recommend music, books, movies, poems, paintings, and more — anything that might be worth reporting in an upcoming episode. I’ll share selections from what I receive there.

Check out new music by Robert Deeble at PledgeMusic.

And so it begins… a new Looking Closer adventure. What’s in your box of 64? I hope you’ll share it with me.