Two Years of Blogging

I started the quest to develop a habit of writing 2 years ago.  I chose to try blogging because I thought it would create a sense of commitment by publicly stating I was going to post every day.  It did.  This is my 731st consecutive daily post.  I’ve written about 435,000 words–about 1740 pages–and posted 4921 images in the midst of life changes, long work days, illness, injuries, business travel, personal commitments, and the general chaos of life.

There’s something to be said for that.  I didn’t prove I’m a great writer, but I did prove I am a prolific one.  🙂  I once read Stephen King’s autobiographical book called “On Writing.”  (Great read if you have any interest in writers or writing.)  As I recall, he writes 8 pages a day, every day.  Of course, he probably writes 8 good pages a day as opposed to random dribble.  But that’s not the point.

The point is that something as large as a book is in reach if you can take it on one small piece at a time.  If you can find the one step that you can take today and take the next step the next day and the next and the next, you will find you can walk across a continent.  It may not be the fastest way, but it’s a heck of a lot faster than never taking any steps at all.

This is not a revelation.  I’m sure we all intuitively know this is true.  But the physical body of work that I have accumulated over the past two years makes the message seems far more tangible to me than it ever has before.  I did this.  I created a habit and realized just how much I can do by setting aside a sustainable amount of time to do one small thing.

The bottom line is that there is no such thing as “I don’t have time.”  We have time, but we spend it elsewhere.  Without making conscious choices and commitments to how we will spend one of life’s most limited resources, the time gets spent anyway–just not necessarily on the things we would like to spend it on.

However, choices do have to be made.  Will I sleep or will I write my blog while I’m half awake?  Will I go to the gym, or will I sleep in an extra hour because I stayed up writing my blog?  Now that I have a second blog, snapgreatphotos.com, I am finding that I need to make room for the time that new commitment takes.

I’m not quite ready to give up this blog–I love that it keeps me motivated to both write and shoot on a regular basis.  But, I need to downsize my time commitment.  For that reason, I am going to a once-a-week post schedule as of today.

My new goal will be to improve the quality of my posts while keeping to a once a week schedule.  See you next Sunday!

Bowl Games

Many moons ago, I taught an Essay and Research class.  One of the things I taught my students was to narrow their focus.

Every time a student was stuck, it was because they were overwhelmed by a big subject and didn’t know where to go with it.  Creating a more current, hypothetical example, a student writing about the economic crisis of 2008 would get as far as “it was awful”  and then not know what else to say.  If they wrote about what caused the economic crisis, they would have something to go research.  But, since none of them were interested in writing a dissertation, that would also lead to writer’s block.  If they wrote about one cause, they would get further, but were usually bored.  But if they wrote about one family and what happened to them, suddenly, they would not be able to stop writing.  As you narrow the scope of what you write about, you often find a nugget of inspiration.

Taking a lesson from my own class (although, I shouldn’t take credit–there was probably a teacher I’ve forgotten who shared this wisdom with me), as I look for photographic inspiration, I switch from thinking about every possibility in the world to giving myself a highly constrained assignment:  shoot one bowl in one place as many ways as possible in about an hour.

As I clear off the largest surface I have available to work on, creating a space about 2 feet by 2 feet (how I miss having a big table), and place a weathered copper bowl under a light, my husband watches me.

“Do you know what you’re going to write about?” He asks.

I ignore him because I, in fact, have not a clue what I’m going to write about.  I am only worried about what I’m going to shoot; the story will come.

He watches me spend my hour on about 40 shots of this poor, beaten bowl.  I start with my 24-70mm lens on a tripod with a simple light bulb behind the bowl.  Then, I try it with my flash with an 1/8” grid strapped on top.  Not satisfied with the spread of the light, I try it with a softbox attachment.  This ruins the contrasting shadows.  I try with a snoot (I still love that word!) and hold the snoot in various positions to create a spotlight effect on different parts of the bowl.

Finally, I ditch my flash and switch to my 100mm macro lens.  I get up close and try to get as much depth of field as possible (not much) across the gleaming rim of the bowl.

“Have you decided what you’re going to write about?” my husband asks again.

I give him a look.

He says, “Well, you’re over there taking all these pictures of that bowl, I assume you know what you’re going to write about.”

I still haven’t told him.