In our ongoing feature Between the Sheets, TrunkSpace picks the imaginative brains of authors to break down what it takes to create the various worlds and characters they breathe life into via the tools of their trade… sheets of paper. While technology continues to advance and change the pop culture landscape, the written word has remained one of the most consistent and imaginative art forms.
This time out we’re chatting with music photographer and author Will von Bolton to discuss his new “585-word instruction manual” for the brain, “Loophole to Happiness,” why he set out to write the book in the first place, and how viewing photographs allows the observer to relive the human emotion captured within them.
TrunkSpace: Your book “Loophole to Happiness” was released January 1st. It seems like a great read for people looking to maintain their 2018 resolutions as they search for their new and improved selves. Was there any thought to releasing it at that time for that very reason?
Will von Bolton: The new year is a great time to reassess yourself and goes well with “Loophole to Happiness” … but the release date was just a coincidence.
TrunkSpace: For many people, happiness can sometimes feel like it only applies to others and not themselves. Parents especially can relate to this, because they’re spending so much time ensuring the happiness of others, they tend to neglect their own emotional well-being. How do we as humans balance our own happiness with that of our responsibilities… be they family, or work, or other?
Will von Bolton: When you nurture your own ‘happiness,’ it reflects on all you do and benefits those around you. There is a balance that everyone has to find.
TrunkSpace: You’ve called the book a “collection of thoughts” that then became an “operating system for your mind.” It is kind of funny to think that with almost everything in life, an instruction manual is included, but not with humans. We’re just expected to know how to function at each and every stage in life. Do you hope “Loophole to Happiness” sheds a bit of light on the “how to” for some who don’t know how to?
Will von Bolton: My thoughts exactly. I wanted to write all of the lessons that have helped me, my “philosophy,” in as few words as possible… for my future self, children I may eventually have, and to anyone with a few minutes to read. “Loophole to Happiness” really has become my brain’s 585-word instruction manual.
TrunkSpace: The book seems like it would be a great gift for a father or mother to pass on to their children because the advice that you’re giving is timeless and is not beholden to any one generation. As you were putting the book together, did you find yourself connecting to it personally in ways that you didn’t expect when setting out on the journey?
Will von Bolton: An interesting aspect of releasing the book is when people quote the book, on social media and in person, it feels like they’re telling me because I need to be reminded of that specific line.
I remember writing “Loophole to Happiness” and the stories behind each line, but it feels like it was channeled through me to me as I look back… it is a beautiful feeling.
TrunkSpace: How much of your work in photography inspired this book? Can you pinpoint a particular moment or shot where it all kind of came together and formed the vision?
Will von Bolton: Being a documentary photographer, you observe more than experience, and it gives you an omni perspective to really study human behavior. This unique perspective, shooting people all over the world reacting to music and celebrity… begs questions like why do people react this way, why do these people and this music mean so much to them?
TrunkSpace: When you’re looking back at photographs you have taken, do you see more within that frozen moment in time than you did while physically looking at it as it played out in front of you? Do photographs help people to sort of see behind the curtain of human emotion?
Will von Bolton: Yes, pictures looked at after time can reveal details or lessons you may have missed in real time. Photography does give you that “behind the curtain of life” perspective. When you look at a picture you smile, cry, laugh, mirroring its emotions… simulating the experience.
TrunkSpace: How long did it take for you to discover your voice as a writer?
Will von Bolton: I never thought of myself as a writer until people started calling me one. I just started writing all my thoughts when I was 25. Those thoughts evolved eight years later into “Loophole to Happiness.”
TrunkSpace: Regarding the process, is writing a labor of love for you or does it feel more like labor? Do you enjoy the process?
Will von Bolton: Writing is a labor of love and I don’t feel like I have much of a choice. Writing is my way of reverse engineering my own challenges. When I write down an idea it allows me to continue thinking. Until it is written, I get in a loop of repeating the idea for fear of forgetting.
TrunkSpace: And what does that process look like? What are the ideal conditions for putting in a good day of writing?
Will von Bolton: A big part of writing for me, is setting up a system to organize thoughts and capture them in real time. I’m most productive when I am alone. I love being anywhere I can sleep when I’m tired, eat when I’m hungry, hike, watch documentaries, and write in between. My family has an incredible 1,500-acre ranch, the solitude and open spaces create a really inspiring environment to think.
TrunkSpace: Do you self-edit as you write?
Will von Bolton: With “Loophole to Happiness,” I was very deliberate with words, so I edited it along the way.
TrunkSpace: Where are you the hardest on yourself as a writer?
Will von Bolton: I’m not a speed writer. It takes me a while to really think about things and put them into words. One of the lines in “Loophole to Happiness” is “speed does not define intelligence” for this reason.
TrunkSpace: What are you working on now and what will people be able to check out next?
Will von Bolton: The “Loophole to Happiness” audiobook will be coming out soon online and on vinyl. It is an 18-minute audiobook voiced by me with a soundscape by my talented friend, Christopher Leigh. Also working on the next book, “Innerspace Development,” a rebranding of meditation.
“Loophole to Happiness” is available now.