Paper Dreams & Other Collections is a collection of writings ranging from poetry to prose to playwright. This text contains work from 2009 to 2014 and was originally funded via a Kickstarter campaign and printed by through the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's Service Bureau.
by Carlos Antonio Piñón
March 29, 2019
Just over five years ago, I published my very first book titled Paper Dreams & Other Collections. It was my first semester at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's (SAIC) Writing Program when I initially got the idea to make a book. It all started on November 15, 2013 when I shared on Facebook a mockup of a full title page that read "Paper Dreams & Other Collections written by Carlos Antonio Piñón" accompanied by the caption, "Hey guys, who would be interested in a copy?" What followed was something extraordinary that defined who I would become as an artist and person.
I entered college at art school only ever having taken one class of creative writing, art appreciation, and chorus in high school. Suffice to say, my training in the arts were limited, yet I somehow always found creative outlets that were supported by many great teachers, especially in my English classes. I recall being an 8th grader and writing what was a RuneScape fanfiction. I had even included an entire chapter that was just training ranged. As a freshman in high school, together with a few friends I met online, we started a "band" and I wrote a lot of "songs" that never actually received any accompanying music, considering I couldn't play any instruments. Unfortunately, all of that work is gone. There's something about losing something you created no matter how bad it was. I wanted to prevent that from ever happening again. Especially in the digital age we live in, the best preservation I could think of is to turn my work into a physical form as a book.
In the following months of my Facebook announcement, I got to work on assembling all of the writing I had into one neat book. It was a disorganized disaster, but a necessary one. Everything changed the moment I decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. The moment I began fundraising, it became less about me and more about creating an experience for those interested in what I had to say. It was daunting to ask my friends and family for $200 on something I usually kept private. Ultimately, after a month, my project was fully funded. During that time, I thought critically about how what I was asking for would translate to in exchange for what people would receive, and I recognized that not everything should be included. After all, even by February 2014 when I launched the campaign, I naturally had already been producing writing that was better than when I came in with. So, with a strong curatorial and critical lens, I began cutting pieces until I felt like I had a strong, cohesive collection.
My campaign ended on two weeks later on March 23, 2014. Somehow, I exceeded my $200 goal and managed to raise $372. I was stunned. More people were interested in my work than I would have ever anticipated. When I look back at the writing in Paper Dreams, I'm able to recognize how much I have improved as a writer. Though my very first reading in November 2013 included excerpts from this book, I would never want to read this particular work aloud again. Instead, I would rather keep the memory of what making this book meant to me. In the month following fundraising, I perfected my book design and submitted the book to print at SAIC's Service Bureau, which is a printing service available for students.
Paper Dreams remains influential every time I work on a new project. So long as I can bring the same level of commitment I had then, I will always create work that I'm proud of.