Like a lot of young boys of almost any decade since the 60’s, I wanted to be a rock musician. I started playing in bands in junior high school and taught myself guitar and piano listening to the Beatles and Bob Dylan. I tried over and over to writes songs like they were writing to no avail. Years later I came to the realization that successful musicians weren’t trying to emulate or copy other artists, they were writing music that they liked; songs that aligned with their own feelings and sensibilities.
It finally dawned on me that the creative process doesn’t work as well if you place your focus on creating something that will be marketable or have mass appeal. You have to write or compose or create what makes you feel good, what you enjoy, whether it be a book, a song, or screenplay. If someone eventually pays you for the work, well then all the better. And if many people like and respond to it, then that’s even better. But that can’t be your primary focus or you’ll never create anything of true value. At least that was my epiphany. Though, it took many years for me to recognize that.
Actor, Writer, Direction, Musician
After high school I studied the performing arts at the University of Utah, focusing on acting, directing and music. Even before I graduated I began working in and around the Salt Lake City and Park City areas directing plays, acting in industrial videos, and doing an occasional film. I had no specific focus, I just wanted to make a living working in the performing arts. I was accepted into Screen Actors Guild and the Actors Equity Association, (acting for live theatre) which for all intents and purposes made me a professional. But I barely made enough money to live on. I couldn’t buy a house or even enjoy a moderate middle-class lifestyle as most of my college companions were beginning to do.
That’s when I began writing. I was hired by a local theatre to create a signature play which led to more and more writing projects. Since I was working mostly in the film business I turn my attention to screenwriting and completed a couple of screen plays which got me an agent in Los Angeles. I never had a screenplay produced but my work was well received and earned me a job creating scripts for the emerging online game industry in San Francisco. That experience led me to a job creating content for the booming web industry. It wasn’t long before I found work in the advertising business creating video content for websites.
I flourished in the ad business as a creative writer and video producer and moving up quickly. I became the marketing director for Sinclair Oil and its associated business, The Grand America Hotels and Resorts. After a few years climbing the corporate ladder I wanted to get back to working for myself so I started my own creative services agency.
Over the years I’ve done marketing and advertising projects for big brands such as Prudential Sun Valley Resorts, Health Rider, Freightliner Trucks Universal Studios Theme Parks, the State of Utah and 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
It was during this period of time that I had my epiphany about the creative process and that’s how I began work on the book “Gabacho.” I stopped thinking about the story as a movie or TV show or particular kind of novel that might appeal to a mass market and just told the story as it happened to me. Likewise, I began to have the similar experiences in song writing and other creative work. That’s about the time I decided to move to Costa Rica.
Life in the Jungle
In 2017, at an age when people tend to retire and enjoy the life they’ve built, my wife moved to Costa Rica to build a house in the jungle. Having lived in Utah most of our lives we wanted a warmer climate where we could be outdoors year-round, and if possible, live near the ocean. Mostly self-employed throughout our careers neither of us had a retirement plan or a great pile of money saved so an ocean view lot in the U.S. was out of our price range. That became the challenge: relocating to a foreign county and creating an American lifestyle on a limited budget. We remodeled our home in Utah, mostly by ourselves, in order to sell it at the highest possible price. Then packed all our belongings – things we had owned for 40 years – and shipped everything to Costa Rica. We found a forested lot overlooking the Pacific Ocean near a giant Guanacaste tree. We designed the basic house plan then handed that off to a local architect to complete the design and blue prints. We worked on the project nearly every day during the year-and-a-half of construction often assisting the Costa Rican crews with difficult manual labor. It was, most certainly, the hardest thing we have ever done and by the time we moved in we were utterly exhausted. But we love our house and the beautiful views and are, perhaps, a bit stronger for the all hard work. Neither of us intended to retire in Costa Rica. I keep up my work as a video producer, teach creative communications at the local high school and play gigs around town in the local bars. Debra, continues her professional career as a photographer and works as a volunteer with the animal rescue society. And, in the end, a home in the jungle is never really completed. So our house project continues daily: keeping up the gardens, maintaining the swimming pool, repairing the damage from the rainy season are never-ending chores. But as they say here in Costa Rica, “Pura Vida,” which roughly translates as “pure life.”