Billy is a Magician?
It still feels odd to include 'Magician' as one of my skill-sets. It's definitely different from the other things that I'm doing, but it still falls into the artistic category.
I started learning magic due to a fictional character in my first published book, The Finish. The character's role as a magician suited the story, so I needed to get inside the mind of a working-class magician. Rather than interviewing magicians, I knew that the only way I could achieve that was to learn the art myself. I am by no means a master of magic, but I have learned enough to turn a few heads and make a few tips from time to time.
I picked up a few books, followed a few tutorials on YouTube, watched tons of footage, and began practicing card magic daily for a few years. The time spent was mostly on the manipulation of cards, basic techniques for control, and sleight of hand. I wanted to develop enough 'tricks' from a standard deck of playing cards so that I could entertain people even when I was ill-prepared. This meant, that my magical selection was limited to tricks that didn't require a loaded 'trick-deck' of cards. This also meant that most of my tricks would require a finesse that I didn't start out with by default. I had to practice.. A LOT!
Eventually I started taking my hobby into the bars. I would go around the room, table to table, one group at a time, and politely ask strangers and friends alike if they'd like to see some magic. From my personal experience, this might be the most challenging endeavor I have ever taken on, because people seem to have high expectations from a magician.
Most of my audiences would sit back and enjoy the impromptu performance. My style is to go with the flow, and make adjustments as chaotic obstacles present themselves. However, once in a while there's a spectator who aims to betray the magician by revealing his 'tricks', as if magic were real, and the magician is nothing short of a liar. It is these individuals who made my experience as a magician so challenging. Learning to overcome these obstacles and developing methods for dealing with different kinds of people in such a random setting really helped me understand the mind of a magician.
I am no longer actively performing in bars, but I do keep up with the practice. It's nice to pull out a deck of cards at a party or when I meet new friends. I'll never grow tired of the expressions and goosebumps generated as a result of my efforts.