2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "17. Colour" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #17: ‘Colour’

Photography

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "17. Colour" | Reghan Skerry

I did say that when I can’t think of anything else to shoot, I take pictures of food. (And, despite what this picture implies, I haven’t actually done any baking this week… though I think the sprinkles might come into play next week. I have plans.)

This is also the first experiment with the new lighting situation in the office—I hung new curtains this week that diffuse the sunlight beautifully without actually changing the colour. I love it.

Sketchbook #11

Writing

I’m thinking about fiction.

I’m thinking about writing. I’m thinking about how I beat myself up over it, how all I can see are the plot holes and frustration and I swear I’m never going to do it again. I’m thinking about how I manage to keep that promise for a year or so at a time, until the urge creeps back to read over those old abandoned drafts.

They’re never as bad as I expect.

They’re never as good as I’d hoped they’d be when I started, but they’re nowhere near as terrible as I believed when I gave up.

It just takes me a year to see that.

And when I see that, I get tempted to start writing again, even though I know it’ll end in tears. Just like the last time.


I’m thinking about painting.

Not art (though I’ll get to that in a minute). I’m thinking about painting walls. I know by now that it takes three coats of white paint to cover the awful beige the management company thinks goes with everything, but that doesn’t go with anything I own or love.

When I’m working alone, it takes a week to paint a room: a day to tear everything down and clean up, a day to do the cutting-in, three days to paint, one day for the trim, and one to touch up and clean up. It stops being fun after the first day of painting. But I get up every day, and after coffee and email, I go to work. I take a break or two (mostly to feed the cat), but other than that, I work all day—all week—until the room is painted.

I never get frustrated. I never wonder why I’m doing it. My perfectionism doesn’t disappear (three coats, remember?), but it doesn’t gnaw away at me like it usually does. Like it does when I’m trying to write, or when I’m sorting through my photos, or when I’m drawing, or thinking about the painting—on canvas—I want to be doing.

I just do the work until it’s done.


For years, I wrote (almost) every day.

I’d get up in the morning, and after coffee and email, I would write. Depending on how I was measuring my progress at the time, I would write until I hit 1500 words, or 2000 words, or 5 pages, or two scenes. I’d aim for four days a week: I took weekends off, and I’d give myself one day to accommodate outside plans that couldn’t be changed, or just a lack of motivation.

The trouble was… the work was never done.

I’d finish one project and immediately start another. I’d finish that project and go back and edit the first one. I never got to a point where I was happy—or even content—with a story, where I could say that I’d achieved what I set out to do. Eventually, I’d just abandon drafts entirely, hoping that I’d like the next one more.

(Now. It should be noted that I was the only one who ever hated these stories. The few stories that made it past my insecurities and into readers’ hands received nothing but glowing feedback. Even my beta readers—good beta readers, writers themselves, who pointed out genuine problems and helped me come up with ways to fix them—never saw the systemic flaws in my work that I did.)

Still. I’d write (almost) every day. And I’d hate it a little more every day, because there was never an end in sight, never a real target that I hoped to hit.

Eventually, I had to stop entirely. It was making me too miserable. (I’ve talked about this before. So. Many. Times.)

I’ve drifted back into it a few times, trying to find ways to tell the stories I want to tell without letting perfectionism get out of control, and it never quite works. The stories never go away—I’m constantly thinking about plot and characters and trying to make them fit together—but I’d sort of accepted that they were always going to be in my head, rather than on the page.

I thought about painting again: a short, intense burst of energy with something tangible to show for it in the end. And then, through an odd twist of fate and Twitter hashtags, I was reminded of National Novel Writing Month: a short, intense burst of energy with (hopefully) something tangible to show for it in the end.

While I was thinking about that, one of the stories that I’d been thinking about clicked into place; a structural problem I’d been trying to solve made perfect sense, and I suddenly wanted to write again.

And, so… I’m going to do NaNoWriMo this year.

And I’m not going to do any serious writing before that.

I’m going to prepare—do some free writing to get myself back to a place where 2000 words or so doesn’t take all day, and turn this idea into an outline that makes sense—but I’m not going to try to write any real stories, not going to force anything.

I still believe that, for some people, and at some times, the key to creativity—writing, art, anything—is just showing up. Putting in the work day after day until it’s as natural as breathing. There have been times in the past when that was exactly what I needed to do. But I think that sort of process is only helpful (for me) when there’s something to show for it. It could be a finished product (or at least a draft of a finished product), or it could be genuine progress, or it could be simply creative or technical improvement. Otherwise, it’s just writing for the sake of getting the words on the page, and then it becomes just another chore.

I’ve run into the same problems with photography. I don’t do 365-Day projects anymore, because eventually they just turn into boring snapshots, taken just so I can check it off my to-do list. I’ve been much happier with my weekly photo project, even when it frustrates me: it gives me just enough structure to keep me focussed, and it’s got a built-in deadline. (I’m still looking for something to do with the photos that’ll give me the same satisfaction as a finished manuscript….) Drawing is still something I can do for a few minutes every day, because I’m seeing progress (however minor) every day.

Right now, if I want to write (and I’m slowly coming to terms with the fact that I do want to write), I need limitations. I need structure and a goal and a reason. Deadlines are good, too.

I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. I don’t know if it’ll get me out of the rut I’ve been stuck in. I don’t know if I’ll like this particular story any better than the others when it’s done. But it’s a relatively small commitment, and I’ve got plenty of time to prepare. I’ve had success with it in the past; I only stopped doing it every year because it would have meant losing momentum on the other projects I was working on. That’s not a problem right now.

Six months to get ready, one month to do the work. No problem.

Snapshot #49 | 10 Things for 24 April 2016

Personal

Currently…

1. settling… on a cake recipe. I think it’s gonna be good.
2. making… these cookies. I’ve been looking for a recipe that makes big, soft, and flavourful peanut-butter cookies for years. This is it. (So, yeah: baking a lot right now.)
3. cleaning… out the kitchen cabinets. I’m in full spring-cleaning mode.
4. feeling… strangely good about not buying something that I really want, but that isn’t quite perfect.
5. wondering… why someone in the apartment building thinks it’s a good idea to add those scent-booster things to the common laundry machine. Horrible.
6. hoping… that I’ll get a chance to repaint the patio furniture before the trees start flinging pollen everywhere.
7. getting… distracted. Now that I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo (more on that tomorrow), I’ve started trying to turn my (fantastic) premise into a viable plot, which has led to falling down weird internet rabbit holes as I search for inspiration and missing pieces. I keep having to remind myself that I’ve got six months.
8. having… kind of a terrible week. Even before Prince died.
9. scrambling… to clear my to-do list. See Numbers 7 & 8, above.
10. finding… inspiration. This week hasn’t been all bad.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "16. Double Exposure" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #16: ‘Double Exposure’

Photography

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "16. Double Exposure" | Reghan Skerry

This is one of those times when I kind of love that digital photography is a thing. (Also tripods and laser pointers. All these things are awesome.)

I could have done this on film. But trying to get it right on film would have been difficult and expensive, and this week… well, I haven’t been having the best week, and I wouldn’t have handled the frustration very well.

In this case, I stitched the two exposures together in post. I could have done it in-camera, but, really, there’s no difference—it’s still taking two frames and layering them together. I had more control (and was better able to edit out the red smear that the laser pointer left on the wall…) in Photoshop. That said, I’m really glad my DSLR had the option. I was able to test my shots and make sure I had two frames that worked together while I was still shooting. If I’d had to wait until I’d uploaded the pictures to the computer, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been as happy with the result. Yes, the colour’s a bit meh. (This is why I’m painting.) And, yeah, there’s some motion blur (because Lucy). But I still kind of love this.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "15. Wide Shot" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #15: ‘Wide Shot’

Photography

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "15. Wide Shot" | Reghan Skerry

In my defence, when I put the list of prompts together, I genuinely believed that, by the middle of April, it would start feeling like Spring around here.

This is a prompt that pretty much required me to go outside. Which is fine (I don’t really want to stay indoors for all of these projects), but a predicted week of rain meant that I only really had one day to get out. The good thing is, I was organized enough to actually take advantage of that one day. The bad thing is, everything’s still just shades of brown and grey and there’s no visual interest in anything yet.

And then, on the way home—hoping that I’d be able to salvage one of the pictures I’d taken, and wishing that I’d brought gloves that covered, you know, my fingers—I decided to take a little detour off the path. And discovered this place.

And then the sun broke through the clouds just enough to add some colour to the moss and some definition to the trees, and… yeah.

I would have liked to get a wider shot, get more of the dead tree in the foreground, but if I took another step back I would have wound up in the lake (after a very unpleasant fall down a very steep hill). But I love what I did get, and I can’t wait go back once there are some leaves on the trees.

Snapshot #48 | 10 Things for 10 April 2016

Personal

Currently…

1. debating… whether or not to do NaNoWriMo this year. It’s been years since I’ve done it, but I’m starting to wonder if it might be what I need to get back into writing fiction. (And, yes. I have to start thinking about this in April, or I definitely won’t do it in November.)
2. cleaning… out my closet. I have too much stuff.
3. rolling… my eyes so hard.
4. thinning… out my collection of camera bags. Too much stuff.
5. taking… risks. Small, relatively safe risks, but risks all the same.
6. thinking… about creative processes, and motivation, and how to do the work I want to be doing.
7. trying… to figure out what I want to bake.
8. wondering… why I get severe cases of the hiccups for no reason and with no warning. So annoying, and it never used to happen.
9. feeling… inspired. I just need to decide what I want to do.
10. searching… for a good workout playlist. (Or good songs to put on my own playlist, but first I’m being lazy and looking for something someone else has already put together.) I’m bored of the one I’ve been using for the past year.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "14. Repetition" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #14: ‘Repetition’

Photography

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "14. Repetition" | Reghan Skerry

Some of these prompts puzzle me. I know I put together the list, and I know that none of them are that strange (this one is pretty straightforward, really), but sometimes, when I’m deciding how I’m going to handle them, I can’t quite figure out what I was thinking about when I came up with the prompt.

Sometimes, that leads me in interesting directions. Sometimes, I’m not sure if what I’ve come up with works.

But then I remind myself that challenges like this are about interpretation, not literal definitions. And that I’m the one doing the project, so if I want to say this is “repetition,” I can.

And, hey—one of the definitions is “a thing repeated.” And, since there are definite (and intentional) similarities to a picture I took in 2013, I’m going with it.