The definition of a homely person, I was born and raised in the Southern Oregon area, born in Grants Pass and later migrated to the Medford-Ashland area. Starting a family at a young age , I found my stride in the grinding work as a Chef. Not my first choice in career, but it paid the rent and I was good at it. Only problem is, its a really bad industry, and to get even a somewhat livable wage, you have to work sixty plus hours a week, never have weekends off, always work nights, and almost any holiday known to man.
Before I started in kitchens, when I was about fourteen ( 1996 ) , I started to learn how to program with the sole intention of making video games. I had a couple of friends, one in particular, who were not only really talented, but extremely willing to teach me. He even gave me his old PowerPC Mac when he got a new one, which I programmed a tic-tac-toe game and started working on a dungeon explorer game that I never finished.
Back in the 90’s , there were no engines, and you had to program your own. Doom was the big thing, and calculus was not something I really was passionate about learning. I kind of shelved the idea of making games.
Music was my number one love, and even though I wasn’t that good at it, I felt the best when I did it. My weekends and my time off were spent making music. One of the biggest things I wanted to do was make music for a game, but I was young and still learning how to even be responsible. Working on a team still wasn’t a possibility.
Fast forward almost ten years, a few years of college, a lot of time working in kitchens, a lot of music recorded, and my son was born. At the young age of twenty, I rebuilt a computer and got it running with the intention of building a new career. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do, but I knew I could code, and it was only 2003, and though the dot-com bubble had been long gone , I knew I could do something.
Within a couple of years, I was freelancing as a web developer. It was always a lot of work for not much money, but since it was supplemental , I considered it a win. This went on for twelve years. I actually was part of a couple of teams which involved a few media driven web sites that actually drew in quite a bit of revenue.
One thing that killed me during this period was watching the advent of the smart phone, and with it, the mobile app market. The one thing I kept eyeing was games. Things like Angry Birds, plants vs zombies, etc,… reminded me how much I wanted to make games.
My personal life was morphing and going through some major changes. A messy separation, becoming a full time single parent of my two children, maintaining a stable home for those two while working full time, I had to stop doing the freelance work. It pained me because I identified as a freelance, and the extra money was good, but at the time, that time was more valuable in my circumstance.
Things settled down, I found true love and remarried, and had a couple of more children. The need for a better life was even more important. By better, I don’t just mean financially, but more value to work. As a chef, you never see the twilight of the evening, unless it is monday or tuesday. You never spend a saturday or sunday at home, you never have a three day weekend on labor day or memorial weekend, etc,…
I decided to start freelancing again. The freelance market had changed a lot. The old platform I used had been bought by another, and their system transferred my feedback, but had a new feature which included a “completion” percentage, which mine was showing 0% . The new company said those users would have to sign in and mark the job as completed.
I had to start over.
It took ten months of constant bidding and cover letter writing to land a job. The first job was making a WordPress theme from a PSD for a guy in Brazil for $5 . Absolutely Soul Crushing!
Slowly I got more jobs at slightly better pay each time, but it was killing me. It wasn’t like it was before, where I was just happy to make money. One, it wasn’t that much, in fact it was less than adequate , taking jobs just to improve my rating. Two, something didn’t feel right at all.
The cliche “Do something you love and you will never work again” is so important on so many levels. The youth of my adult hood was spent looking for what I could do for work, essentially. This is okay in the regards that I was man, a new young father, and I just simply wanted to provide. As you get older, you begin to value your time more, and as you get better at something, you know your work is worth more. This is why we identify with what we do for work so much.
But I wasn’t doing what I love. I never focused on music because I never felt like it could make me money, and now, at the age of thirty-six, I can’t believe how wrong I really was. Video games was what I really loved, and I gave it up twenty years before because I just didn’t want to learn basic calculus to build an engine, and the ridiculous part of that , I didn’t even think about a game I wanted to design because if I did, I could have done something that didn’t involve a 3d engine.
The truth is, I have always been afraid to work from the heart, and do exactly what I love to do.
This takes courage, and a level fearlessness I have never really realized, until now.
So now, for the rest of my life, I am only going to focus on what I LOVE to do. Music, story telling, art direction, general art, etc,…
I am a creative, see me create.
David Kilmer lives in Southern Oregon with his beautiful wife Jamie Ann, there gorgeous daughter Juliann Hailee , and there youngest son James Steven-Lee . There is also sightings of three other teenagers, Shannon, Quillian, and Madaline.