2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "24. Golden Hour" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #24: ‘Golden Hour’

Photography

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "24. Golden Hour" | Reghan Skerry

This is another one of those times when I really should have thought things through a little better when I was putting together the list of prompts. It really would have made more sense to schedule this particular prompt in spring or (better) fall, when there’s still something interesting to take photos of, but the golden hour happens at a more reasonable time.

As it is, I scheduled this prompt for the longest days of the year, when the golden hour is either insanely early or late enough in the evening that it interferes with other plans. To get this picture, I had to be out of the house by 5:15. In the morning. On a Saturday.

So… that happened. A few weeks later than I’d planned, but it happened.

Sketchbook #13

Photography, Writing

[FYI: This is kind of long. Feel free to skip it if you’re not interested in reading my stream-of-consciousness artistic angst.]

Ugh. This month.

I mean… it’s not as bad as I probably make it sound. I’ve made real progress in figuring out what’s going on in my NaNoWriMo story: I know who my main character is, and who the antagonist is, and I sorted out the big worldbuilding issue I was having. I’ve started to figure out how the backstory I’ve been thinking about fits into the main story, and I know (generally) what’s driving the plot.

I’ve also been (slowly) building my daily writing practice back into something that I’m happy with, and that will put me on track to be able to hit the word counts I’ll need to make it through NaNoWriMo.

So far, so good.

But.

I’m not feeling even remotely inspired. In anything.

Photography has stalled. Photo editing has stalled. (Which bugs me, because I’ve still got some really good photos from May that I want to share with you, but I just can’t convince myself to fire up Photoshop.) I’m even struggling with the 52-Week Project, almost exactly half-way through. (Part of this is because a recent prompt needed specific natural light, which I just wasn’t getting. And, while I knew that that sort of thing was going to happen a few times over the course of the year, it’s still frustrating, and it’s still affected my motivation.)

And even though I’m still making progress with writing… I’ve hit the point where, in recent months (or years), I’d decide to give up. My enthusiasm has faded, and literally the only thing keeping me going right now is the public commitment I’ve made to do NaNoWriMo this year.

The last time I really felt like this, I wound up booking a trip to Montréal. And while you can’t really run away from your problems, there is something to be said for spending a few days alone in an unfamiliar city, where you barely speak the (main) language, with nothing to do but force yourself out of your comfort zone, take pictures of things you’ve never seen before, and think. But that sort of thing isn’t in the budget right now. (Not that that’s stopped me from browsing airfares and hotel websites. In case you’re wondering, it costs a small fortune to fly anywhere from here.)

I know that most of the problems I’m having are things that I’ve always struggled with—perfectionism’s a big one, and so is my love/hate relationship with routine. And, on top of that, I don’t really have a creative community right now, and I miss it. I miss having people to bounce ideas off of, and commiserate with, and whom I can trust for objective critique. (Friends and family are great, but rarely objective.)

I’m also remembering that my love/hate relationship with routine also affects how I feel about story outlines. On one hand, the structure is good: it keeps me focussed and doing the work that needs to be done. On the other hand, it’s stifling and uninspiring. And, since I’m looking at outlining this story for the next four months (I know from experience that I can’t make it through NaNoWriMo without an outline), it’s hard to get myself motivated.

So. Where does that leave me?

I know that, every so often, this sort of creative ennui kicks my ass. I know that it’ll eventually pass, but “eventually” isn’t really good enough; I’ve lost so many promising projects this way.

I know that I’m still determined to get through this 52-Week Photo Project.

I know that I’m still absolutely committed to doing National Novel Writing Month this year.

I know that I want to be making things. I want to write. I want to take photos. I want to make art.

And I know that forcing myself to create when I feel like this only makes things worse—the work becomes too much of a chore, and I only do it to say it’s done. I stop caring about whether it’s any good, and when I stop caring, it stops being good. And then I start to resent the fact that I’m doing the work at all when it’s clearly terrible, and then I burn out.

I don’t know how to reconcile these things.

I need to figure out a creative practice that works for me: something that doesn’t rely too heavily on routine, but still feels productive. Something that doesn’t fall apart entirely when I’ve got to take a few days off. Ideally, something that I can keep up (at least enough to maintain my momentum) when I’m travelling, or spending a week baking Christmas cookies. I need to figure out a way to outline stories that doesn’t suck all the energy out of them before they’re even written. I need to find a creative community that clicks. Most importantly, I need to find a way to be objective about my own work—I need to figure out how to recognize the good parts, and figure out how to live with (or, you know, fix) the parts that aren’t amazing.

For now, I think I can maintain the progress I’ve made. I can keep writing 500 words a day, and I can keep working on the 52-Week Photo Project. I can draw for a few minutes every day. I can keep NaNoWriMo in my sights and hopefully not fall too far behind on my preparations. But I’m going to hold off on trying to increase my daily word count, at least for now. I’m going to focus more on editing and sharing the photos that are sitting on my hard drive than on taking a tonne of new pictures. I’m going to look at outlining techniques I haven’t tried yet, and see if they might suit me better than the methods I’ve been using.

I think I can do that without putting too much pressure on myself.

And, while I’m trying, I guess I’ll try to figure out the rest of it.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "25. Product #1" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #25: ‘Product’

Photography

I almost should have expected it: just as I approach the half-way point in this project, I start to lose all momentum. I’m not feeling inspired, or particularly motivated, or even all that interested right now.

I’m not happy about it, but I hit these creative lulls occasionally. I’ll get through it—I always do—but in the meantime, at least this project gives me something to focus on.

More on Monday.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "25. Product #2" | Reghan Skerry

Snapshot #53 | 10 Things for 19 June 2016

Personal

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After the rain…

A post shared by Reghan Skerry (@reghanskerry) on

Currently…

1. getting… the flowers and herbs planted. I was starting to worry about how late it was getting.
2. hoping… that it’ll be warm enough soon to justify iced coffee.
3. making… muffins and bread and other things that don’t really say “summer.”
4. solving… some big problems with my NaNoWriMo outline. Things are starting to make sense, finally.
5. fine-tuning… my to-do lists and time-tracking systems. Seriously. This is what I do for fun.
6. trying… to watch more movies.
7. having… one of those weeks where everything is kind of awful. Feeling frustrated, uninspired, and just… ugh. Anyway. It’ll pass.
8. thinking… about how to get back on track this week. I know I just said “it’ll pass,” but I don’t want to wait that long.
9. starting… to feel like my efforts to learn French are finally starting to pay off.
10. daydreaming… about travel, mostly. My list keeps getting longer.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "23. Documentary #1" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #23: ‘Documentary’

Photography

I suppose it kind of makes sense to go back to the photo diary style photos for a prompt like “Documentary.”

This was harder to do than I expected. First, I didn’t really have too much going on this week that was worth documenting (at least not in photos), and the weather hasn’t really inspired me to go out and find something. But I did eventually manage one day that was dry enough to get some gardening done (finally!) and find some inspiration.

The second problem was trying to get the gardening done and take photos at the same time.

I might revisit this prompt in the future.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge:

Snapshot #52 | 10 Things for 5 June 2016

Personal

Currently…

1. editing… the recent batch of photos. Still in love with black & white.
2. catching… up on all the TV I put on hold the last few months.
3. resisting… temptation. Some old habits keep trying to creep back into my life…. (I don’t want to call them “bad” habits, because they’re not, but… they do get in the way of other things I want to be doing. So, yeah. I’d like to avoid them if I can.)
4. trying… to break the cat of some of her bad habits. She’s getting a little too demanding about waking me up in the morning.
5. going… back to a favourite bread recipe.
6. feeling… focussed.
7. starting… my annual search for a good hamburger bun recipe. (I never got around to trying any last year, but now that I’m into the habit of making bread regularly anyway, it feels a little less like a chore.)
8. wondering… what we did to piss 2016 off…
9. getting… back into a routine that feels productive and generally good. I’m still a little iffy on the entire idea of routine (I feel like I rely on it too much), but… yeah. Right now, things are going well.
10. thinking… about that painting that I’ve been planning for ages, and still haven’t actually started.

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "22. Balance" | Reghan Skerry

Weekly Photo Challenge 2016 | Week #22: ‘Balance’

Photography

2016 Weekly Photo Challenge: "22. Balance" | Reghan Skerry

Back to struggling with finding inspiration for the prompts that are vague and open to interpretation. For a while, I considered going seriously literal with this one (oh, look, here’s something balanced precariously on its edge), and I considered posting one of the pictures from last month’s photo excursion (which is a better photograph in general, and probably works better for the prompt anyway), but in the end, I decided to stick with the spirit of the challenge.

With luck, I’ll do better next week.

The New York Hat (1912), written by Anita Loos | Inspired

Inspiration + Obsessions

In the early days of film, screenwriting was an almost exclusively female domain, and Anita Loos was one of the most prolific and influential ‘script girls’—the women who wrote scenarios and intertitles for silent films. When she was 24 years old, she sold her first scenario to D.W. Griffith’s Biograph Studios for $25. The New York Hat went on to star Mary Pickford and Lionel Barrymore.

Over the years, Loos wrote nearly 140 films, several Broadway plays and novels (including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, originally serialized in Harper’s Bazaar), and some of the first guides to screenwriting.

She died in 1981, at 93 years old.