Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hearing a Storyteller’s Story in Second Life

No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Lewis Carroll


          What I enjoy about wandering about in Second Life (SL) is how these meanderings so often lead me to topics for my stories. 

          The people, places, and experiences encountered inworld give me opportunities to share with my readers (Both of you.) the virtual world that exists alongside Real Life (RL).

          People who have managed to bridge the gap between SL and RL especially interest me because of my long held belief that virtual worlds need only be another neighborhood in our real lives if we approach it wisely.  (Significant Other looks doubtful here.)

          This story is about one such person.

          Someone who uses SL to enhance not only her own RL but for all those who admire and follow her work.

          A chance meeting led me to meet that someone, Ashley Carter, not all that long ago

          Like many of my initial meetings with SL friends, I learned a little about her, exchanged some pleasantries, and we went our separate ways promising to meet up again sometime.

          As many of my inworld friends have learned about me, I tend to go down a road and not come back.  (Significant Other mumbles something about it’s not just in SL.)

          So, whenever I run into someone by chance again, it’s always a happy time for me to catch up.  (I won’t speak for the person whom I’m catching up with.  As long as they don’t run away screaming I guess it’s alright.)

          And, this is what happened with Ashley.

          I met her again by chance and we chatted for a bit. 

          However, unlike our first meeting, I knew more about her this time.  (I’m one of those who do read SL profiles and follow links to blogs, websites, flickr and such.)

          I had learned that Ashley was an accomplished artist and storyteller inworld and took her work into RL.  I was intrigued.

          This time I was able to talk with Ashley about her work and her life inworld.  I asked for an interview which she readily agreed too.

This story is based on that interview which took place inworld at her home and studio.

          Let me tell you the story of Ashley Carter and VOIDAR….    

          A good story always begins at the beginning.  (At least I think so.  If you don’t agree then go write your own story!) 

          Ashley first joined SL a little over three years ago, although she claims it doesn't seem like it.  She’d first heard about SL on the local news in RL from a story about a couple who had met through here.  That wasn't what she was after, but it still piqued her interest that there was this social online world where one could interact with people and create. 

When asked why she stayed, Ashley replied she thinks because it came down to the people she had the good fortune of meeting, Ashley feels that she’s met some really good friends inworld.

I next ask Ashley how would she describe who she is and what she does inworld.

Ashley laughs and replies that it's hard to describe herself in one word, but first and foremost she enjoys photography which is her number one passion in SL.  Still laughing, she describes herself as curious, friendly but sometimes a little anti-social. Ashley likes being in her own company, it's where she feel most comfortable.  But, on the opposite hand, she adds, SL has given her more confidence when meeting new people and that's helped her in RL too.

          Our interview turns to Ashley’s work and her major opus, VOIDAR.

          VOIDAR stands for “Voyage Of Immense Danger and Reward.”  (That was easy wasn’t it?)

          As described on its website, “VOIDAR is an ongoing sci-fi / adventure series constructed from Linden Lab’s online virtual world: Second Life. The high octane story is told through a mixture of pictures and animated videos; and it follows a group of misfit voyagers, who do what they can to prevent a war on a universal scale from breaking out!” 

          George Lucas watch out!

          VOIDAR is Ashley’s first major project in SL.  She dismisses her early work as trivial.

          I ask Ashley where VOIDAR came from. 

Ashley chuckles explaining that VOIDAR is an original idea from a deep corner of her mind. She’s always been interested in photography, and the next step she wanted to take was tell a story. 

When asked if she’s a writer too, Ashley replies that, yes, in a loose sense.  But, she lets the photos tell the story. Going forward she plans to include some flavor text to go with each picture, and let audiences get to know this world a bit more.

I next ask Ashley what led her to do this project.  It's a big commitment of her time and effort.

Ashley agrees excitedly that it is a big commitment.  The idea first came to her in late 2013, and officially debuted at the beginning of 2014. She’s a big fan of movies and graphic novels and that influenced her in starting this project.

In her first year Ashley wasn't creating nearly as much content as she does now.

          My next query is whether Ashley would describe VOIDAR as a graphic novel and herself as a graphic novelist.

Ashley describes VOIDAR as being a pictorial series.  Stylistically it does take a lot of influence from graphic novels, superhero and adventure films.  First and foremost, she’d just describe herself as being a photographer who wants to tell a story, that hopefully others can enjoy as much as she does creating it.

          I ask Ashley what drives her.      

Ashley replies that when she originally started, she saw VOIDAR as nothing more than a simple hobby. These days she feels like it's a part of her life. Ashley has become so invested with these characters and the story that have been in her mind. She guesses being able to create this story and share it with the world is what drives her. The response to it has been more than she had anticipated.  That support from fans is also what keeps her going.

          Spoken like a true storyteller!

          My next query is about her goals in SL.

Ashley replies to avoid stress, focus on having fun along the way in whatever she chooses to do.  (I should adopt these myself.)

I ask about the challenges that she faces as a creative woman inworld.

From a creative stand point, it’s hard to say, Ashley replies. Those who do ask about what she does seem generally interested and have offered compliments and support. She thinks the number one challenge is making sure she gives time to those around her and not isolate herself from everyone.

Ashley thinks that she should reach out more to people, if it’s just for a chat or if she'd like them to get involved in her idea.  She just knows whatever obstacles come her way, she'll find a way to overcome them.  

Ashley will never stop doing what she loves most.

I ask Ashley whether she has plans in the Metaverse beyond SL.

Ashley replies that SL feels like home to her, so she can't see myself trying out a new virtual world anytime soon. But she do have big plans for VOIDAR going forward

Expanding on this, Ashley explains that she has already joined different social media platforms, and set up an official website. One of my main goals this year is to establish VOIDAR and what it's about.  Plant its virtual flag so to speak, she adds.  Outside still pictures, she wants to have another go at creating short animated clips set in the VOIDAR universe, and if time permits find ways to branch out into different storylines

Ambitious goals indeed!

My final query is what does Ashley consider to be her proudest accomplishment to date in SL.

I can’t say that I’m surprised when she replies that the obvious answer would be VOIDAR, but besides that she says that she’s proud of how she’s changed as a person. SL has allowed her to interact with all kinds of people and it's just opened her eyes on what's out there. Ashley thinks that she’s become more patient and sincere towards people because of her inworld experiences.

          After the conclusion of our interview, I thank Ashley for her time and candor in her answers and take my leave.

          I’m very impressed with both Ashley and her work.

          I haven’t encountered many inworld who admit to changing for the better in RL because of their SL experiences.

          Ashley’s work is rich in imagery and characters. 

          Her approach reminds me of the old fashioned cliff hangers that cinemas used to use to bring patrons back every week.

          Ashley’s work can be found on her website and on flickr.  She can also be found on Tumblr.  Her Twitter handle is @VoidarOfficial.

          I encourage everyone to see it and give their comments to Ashley!

          I know that she’ll appreciate them.

          I’d like to thank Ashley again for taking the time to meet with me and to share her story and feelings with all of us!   

          As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!



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