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Born of Ashes
Letter of Intent to the Universe
I applied for a grant this past week.
And I thought: Why not share my experience with you. Not to teach you how to apply for a grant, but to share and give you an overview of where this heart of mine is creatively. My goal was for the grant to flow loosely like a story which should make this a fun read.
The grant is called Creative Capital and is for literature. It has three stages. The first one is a Letter of Intent (to the Universe as well as to the grant benefactors). The letter is divided in segments (see bellow). They didn’t ask for images, but a few are included here. The portal to apply was open for the month of March, but I waited until the last three days because after the first three chapters shared here “Eurydice” came to a major crossroad. Starting a grant before my writing was on autopilot made little sense. Just as publishing here before the novel is written was too naive. (Hence, discontinuing publishing it serially.) About two weeks ago I discarded four months of writing - a total of five chapters - after I took an afternoon nap and when I awoke the direction was clear. More on that and the creative process in later newsletters.
Last Tuesday I woke up at 1AM and after tossing and turning in bed for two hours, got up and wrote the grant until 6AM. After some polishing the next few days I sent it on Thursday. Cross your fingers. And if you’re loving the vision for “Eurydice” and wish to get involved in any way then please do write.
Each segment had a word limit between 250 and 100 words.
Describe your creative practice in a biography.
My first short story in third grade was about an alien getting stuffed into a trash can or maybe it was a human getting stuffed into a trash can by an alien. That must have been around 1987 in communist Bulgaria. Eight years later, I became an alien in the USA.
The first decade here was about surviving, but by 2008 my soul demanded change so I quit my corporate job and a potential $100,000 salary. I wrote my third screenplay, began to direct and started to write a book.
In 2016 I was hired to direct a music video - the concept for “Eurydice” was born. We went with a different idea, but by 2021 the story refused to go away. I’ve been writing “Eurydice” for the past half year during the days while delivering pizza at night.
I’d call my cinema a phoenix - born from the ashes of documentary and narrative storytelling. I’d like to think my writing is also born of ashes - my own. My inward journey over the past fifteen years has seen me die to myself many times. I’ve welcomed each death learning from it while expanding beyond my idea and indoctrination of who I am.
One Line Project Description
Eurydice becomes a seed, but instead of growing out of the Earth like the future human race she belongs to, she is uprooted and enslaved.
Over the span of a century a billion humans voluntarily offer themselves to be buried underground in biodegradable time-capsules. One morning, instead of driving off the bridge and finally committing suicide, Eurydice walks into The Seed Corporation. The next day she is already capsuled.
In a future she never imagined possible, Eurydice is in for a shocking turn of events. Instead of growing harmoniously out of the Earth in celebrated emergence, she has been uprooted.
On one level, the novel explores my experience of being uprooted from my homeland Bulgaria at the age of seventeen. I was never asked if I wanted a future in America. Twenty-seven years later, still here, I’ve rediscovered my roots and sense of belonging.
On another level, the novel raises questions about the sustainability of soul, mind and body. Realizing the prison of thought and the status quo we’re increasingly asked to inhabit, the mother of baby Orpheus pleads:
Eurydice, if I don't make it, will you tell…my sweet baby his mother loved him. Loved him too much to let him grow up a slave. Do you think he will ever forgive me? Remember - she kissed the boy, - we are all the rings of a tree.
Lastly, the novel explores our inherent connection to the Earth, what we have lost and what is possible.
How does your project take an original and imaginative approach to content and form? Please be as specific as possible.
“Eurydice” features my existing archive of professional photography presented as biographical black and white portraits of the characters and the worlds they inhabit.
A graphic novel with a mythological story taught in schools, centuries after the storyline takes place, accompanies the novel.
A podcast expands on the creative process offering insights as well as conversations with fascinating personalities inspired by the work of Jospeh Campbell. The podcast also features selected readings from the audio book.
Coinciding with the release of the novel is the unveiling of 10 city murals in Seattle over 10 weeks. The murals explore the themes in “Eurydice” following a woman growing out of the ground. They draw attention to the looming ecological crises and offer solutions. A QR code sends city dwellers to a website to buy the book and get engaged in volunteer environmental and immigrant work in their local community.
Please place your work in context so we may better evaluate it. What are the main influences upon your work as an artist? How does your past work inform you current project? Please use concrete examples, which may include other artists’ work, art movements, cultural heritage, science, philosophy, research/work from outside the arts field, etc.
I’m inspired by Ursula K. Le Guin, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury's "Fahrenheit 451", "Monday Starts On Saturday" by Arkady Strugatsky. Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Orson Wells and David Lean in cinema. Most recently, James Hillman and Robert Bly.
In my early 20s I wrote a Holocaust screenplay. During research I watched the 10 hour documentary “Shoah" which changed me forever as a human being. Since then my creative process is driven by curiosity and inquiry into what it is to be a human while honoring the space of another.
What kind of impact—artistic, intellectual, communal, civic, social, political, environmental, etc.— do you hope your project will have? What strategies will you employ to achieve the desired impact?
In “Eurydice” the apocalypse comes because of the misuse of language, not an asteroid or war. If the novel can inspire us to be gentle and kind, to cheer each other on as we follow our soul’s path, then it will have achieved a minor victory of spirit over consumerism.
The novel along with the city murals, podcast and tour pushes the boundaries of what is possible when we realize we’re all seeds sewn by our collective thoughts and actions. Some of us luckier to have been sewn in love, others challenged to rise above grit. Seeds all the same.
Who are the specific audiences/communities that you hope to engage through this project? Please think beyond the broader art community where possible. How are you hoping to reach them?
The universal story of “Eurydice” has the potential to reach a world community. The graphic novel (told in images) piques the curiosity of teenagers, inviting them to read the written novel. The city murals invite us to discover and engage. The podcast invites us to listen. Outreach in immigrant communities creates further opportunities.
My Substack presence in Bulgarian and English has a total of 1,200 subscribers. This grassroots foundation was laid in 2019 with my film “There” which toured eighteen cities in North America. I’m planning to tour with “Eurydice” the Bulgarian diaspora in the US and Canada building on this momentum.
How might your proposed project act as a catalyst for your artistic and professional growth? In what ways is it a pivotal moment in your practice?
Receiving this grant allows for the fulfillment of every step outlined in this proposal setting up “Eurydice” to grow roots in the imagination of readers far and wide.
The monetary reward from successfully publishing and distributing “Eurydice” will allow me to quit delivering pizza and focus on writing my trilogy coming of age books “Long Nights Moon.” Right now I write for an average 2-3 hours a day in addition to writing on my phone while waiting for orders to come in. I dream of the time when my days will be immersed in writing to my soul’s delight.
In addition to funding, Creative Capital also provides scaffolding and support services for awardees (such as expert consultations, gatherings/retreat, alumni network, workshops). How would our non-monetary services help you to realize your goals for this project and/or your long- term artistic and professional growth?
Any resources offered to make “Eurydice” an inspiring and ground breaking adventure from the marketing to the presentation in various formats will undoubtedly help. I imagine how helpful a retreat would be or any assistance to get an editor and reach publishers.
I’m grateful for this opportunity and the time of Creative Capital and staff. (Here, I also add you, dear reader and friend of this newsletter.) Thank you!
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