2017 Project365 #365 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #358-365

Photography

I still don’t know what possessed me to try a 365 project in 2017. When I started, I was pretty sure it would turn out like the attempts I’d made before: three months in, I’d be taking the most boring snapshots in the world, simply to fulfil the obligation. I didn’t think that I’d make it through the year without getting bored or resentful, and I definitely didn’t think that the project would do as much for my photography in general as it did.

Were all my photos good? Of course not. I phoned in a bunch of them, even this last week. But I can see a marked difference between the photos I was taking in January, the ones I was taking in July, and the ones I’m taking now, and I’m really happy with how far I’ve come.

A big part of it, I’m sure, is just the fact that I was sharing the photos—the ones that I loved, and the ones that were, frankly, embarrassing. Getting some kind of feedback (whether it was full-on comments, or just a few likes) has done wonders for my confidence as a photographer, which in turn has pushed me to try a little bit harder with every photograph. (Or almost every photograph. Some days, I’m still lazy and uninspired.)

There’s a lot to be said for not creating art in a vacuum.

Now that this particular project is over, what’s next?

I’m going to keep taking a picture every day, and posting it to Instagram, but I’m not calling it an official 365 project. (I’ll keep posting the photos here, too, but I’m going to move to a monthly roundup, instead of weekly.)

The big problem I ran into this year was that the every-single-day aspect meant that sometimes I was taking pictures just to fulfil the obligation, and I wasn’t happy with the results. By the time November rolled around, I wanted something that was more of a creative challenge, but less of a chore.

In 2018, I’m going to give myself some leeway when I’m sick, or uninspired, or whatever. I’m still going to try for every day, but if I can manage at least five days a week, I’m going to call it a win. And I’m going to break the year down into smaller, more challenging projects, things that will push me either creatively or technically.

I don’t know what all of those projects are yet. I’ll probably limit myself to a single camera or lens for a month, and I’ll do a month of black-and-white, and I’ll find a few more things to do as the year goes on. (I’d also really like to work on my portraiture…. If you’re near Nova Scotia and might be interested, get in touch.)

I’m going to keep going. I’ve enjoyed this project too much to stop now.

2017 Project365 #352 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #351-357

Photography

We’re coming down to the last days of the year, and it feels so weird. I’ll have more to say next week, with my final post for this particular project (and my plan for next year’s project), but for now: I really like every single picture I took this week. Even the ones that aren’t perfect (the meringues, for one… and the NaNoWriMo pin is a little boring. Well. The picture is. The pin itself is lovely). It was a good week.

Also, apparently I was in the top 1% of readers on Pocket this year. (I read the equivalent of 80-something books? In addition to the actual books I read.) So that’s kind of cool, and I really like the sticker.

2017 Project365 #355 (version 2) | Reghan Skerry

Happy Holidays!

Admin, Personal

Whatever you celebrate (even if that’s just a few days off), I hope it’s a good one.

I’m going to be taking a bit of a break from the blog and most social media until 2 January. I’ll still be on Instagram, and my last(!) two Project 365 posts will arrive on schedule, but that’s all. (I’ll be checking email occasionally, but I’m not likely to respond until after the new year, unless I decide it’s an absolute emergency.)

It’s time to take a step back, enjoy the holidays, and then spend some time figuring out what comes next.

See you in 2018!

2017 Project365 #350 | Reghan Skerry

Snapshot #92 | 10 Things for 17 December 2017

Personal

Currently…

1. searching… for simple (but nice!) unscented candles. When did they become so difficult to find? (Scented candles do not belong on the dinner table. And yet.)
2. accepting… that I’m just in a weird headspace right now, and the only real creative work that will be done for the rest of the year is making plans for 2018.
3. reminding… myself that I tend to blow things out of proportion. It’s never as bad/weird/whatever as I imagine it’s going to be.
4. listening… to DJ Riko’s Merry Mixmas 2017. I say it every year, but these mixes are amazing, and they always put me in the Christmas spirit. (I’ve been downloading these mixes every year since 2005.)
5. rolling… my eyes at USPS package tracking. I’m getting updates every day (which Canada Post could learn from, btw), but my parcel keeps bouncing back and forth between San Francisco and Denver.
6. getting… myself motivated for the upcoming review & goalsetting session. It’s one of my very favourite things, and I think this year’s going to be a good one.
7. freaking… out just a little bit. I felt like I had plenty of time before Christmas and the new year… until I didn’t.
8. making… gingerbread cardamom waffles. (Like: literally, at the moment this post goes live, that’s what I’m doing.) It’s turned into a bit of a tradition on the day that I decorate the tree. They’re so good.
9. trying… to catch up with everything I ignored during NaNoWriMo. (Oh, look: Pinterest has fixed the issue with the feed, but it’s still so full of ads that I don’t want to bother.)
10. wondering… if the extended metaphor I came up with the other day is actually the seed of a story. (It could be a pretty badass YA thing. Or it could be Marvel fanfic that I’m never ever going to write. Even if it would be cool.)

NaNoWriMo 2017 Diary | Postmortem

Writing

I keep sitting down to write this post, and it keeps not happening. There’s part of me that feels like it’s not time, yet: I haven’t finished writing the story, so how can I possibly think about any of this objectively? I didn’t write the postmortem for last year’s project until I’d finished the draft, and that worked out well enough. But this isn’t about the story, it’s about the experience.

And this year was a very different experience from last year.

I went in confident that I could do it. Last year was… I won’t say “easy,” but it was fairly straightforward. I wrote nearly every day, and I stayed pretty much on-target as far as word-count went, and then I crashed as soon as I hit 50K, because I’d had a cold for the last few days of the month and the only thing that kept me going was stubbornness.

This year wasn’t like that. At all.

After the first week, I spent the entire month just a little bit behind schedule. Not far enough behind to send me into a panic, or make me give up, but enough that I was dealing with constant, low-level anxiety for the entire month. Every day, I sat down knowing that if I didn’t hit my goal for the day, things would start to snowball, and it would become a genuine struggle to get through.

I’m still not sure how I managed, but… I made it through. Somehow.

Word-count anxieties aside, I had two big goals for this year.

First, I wanted to focus on building the daily writing routine that I really want.

So, how’d I do?

I’m getting there. I’m learning how to fit writing and exercise into my best hours, which has always been my highest priority, but the constant deficit in my word-count meant that I had to sacrifice some other things to keep from falling too far behind. My photography suffered, and I was often too wiped out at the end of the day to think about the other writing projects (in the outlining and editing stages) that I wanted to be working on.

But now that the month is over, and I’m setting my own targets again, I’m starting to find the time and energy to think about other creative projects, on top of this particular story. That’s all going to get a bit chaotic again soon (the holiday baking marathon will start to suck up all my free time this coming weekend, and my brain is already moving into deep planning mode for the new year), but… I know that I can make this work for me. It’ll take a couple of weeks to find my way back to it in January, but I will find my way back to it in January.

My second big goal was to to write a draft that worked. by which I mean “doesn’t need to be torn down and entirely rewritten.” And I did much better on this one. I’m still only three-quarters of the way through Act Two (and there are a few missing scenes here and there), but so far, I’m thrilled with how the story is coming together. It’s not perfect (obviously), but it’s very close to the story I hoped to write. I kind of can’t wait to get to the editing stage, and that’s never happened before.

Part of this has been fine-tuning my outlining process (though, let’s be honest, that’s not something that’s ever going to be set in stone). Part of it has been finally figuring out how to create characters that feel real to me. And part of it is just growing as a writer. It’s starting to feel real to me.

So: I met my goals (including that whole write-50,000 words-in-a-month thing). So that’s good!

And I learned stuff!

I’m starting to figure out who I am as a writer, and that changes everything.
This is the first story I’ve written in a very (very!) long time that really feels like me. I’m not writing it because it ties into any particular trends (or wilfully ignores a trend because I’m a snob), or because I’ve got a passing interest in a genre, or even because the idea has been sitting at the back of my mind for years and I want to finally write the stupid thing. (That was last year.) I’ve got a connection with this story, I genuinely love the story-world, and, if it works the way I hope, it will move me toward some of my bigger writing goals.

And that’s made the entire writing process easier, and more fun.

I really need to learn how to write action scenes.
Building on that last point: the stories I want to write require action scenes. And I’m kind of terrible at writing them. I mean… I can. I have written decent action scenes in the past, but that’s more luck than skill. I want to take some time to really study (and practice!) the process… ideally, before I start the editing/rewriting process on this story. (Are you good at writing action sequences and fight scenes? Please: leave a comment! I want to pick your brain.)

The NaNo graph is really helpful.
NaNoWriMo 2017 Graph | Reghan SkerryI mean it. I love that graph. On bad writing days, I’d update it every time I took a break, and seeing my word-count creep ever closer to that line was enough of a reward to keep me going. Over the last week or so, I’ve started trying to put together a spreadsheet that will do something similar, but some of the formulas are tricky—it’s entirely possible that I’m making them more complicated than they need to be—and I really have no idea what I’m doing. (But it’s weirdly fun? I don’t know.)


That’s where I stand right now. The month was difficult—more difficult than I’d expected, going in—and I was dealing with low-level anxiety the entire time, but… it was good. I’m happy with how the month went, and I’m really looking forward to what comes next (like finishing the story).

(By the way: I’m just going to go ahead and count this as November’s sketchbook post, because NaNo was really the only creative thing I did in November. And I’m going to skip December’s sketchbook. I’ve got some year-in-review and goalsetting stuff coming up, and I’m not going to be getting very much done over the rest of the month. Except baking. I’ll be doing a lot of that.)

2017 Project365 #332 | Reghan Skerry

Project365: #330-336

Photography

The days are getting shorter and gloomier. Pretty much all the fall colours have faded, leaving behind shades of muddy brown and grey. And I’ve been doing this project for almost an entire year—so it’s starting to feel like I’ve taken pictures of everything even remotely interesting in my apartment.

What I’m trying to say is: this is getting really difficult, and I’m kind of looking forward to the end of it.

And that leaves me with a bit of a dilemma, because at the same time, I really love this project. It’s been frustrating and boring and I love that it’s forced me to work through all of that and still take photos. And if you catch me in the right mood, I will absolutely say that I’ll do it again next year.

Except.

I want to do something different. I still want to do a year-long project of some kind, and I still want an excuse (and motivation) to post something every day. But I’d like to find a way to do it that pushes me as a photographer, that makes me think about the art and craft of photography, rather than just finding something to take a picture of every day.

So! I don’t know what my plan is for next year, only that it’s going to be a little different. Or very different. One or the other. In the meantime, I’ve still got this project to finish.

Snapshot #91 | 10 Things for 3 December 2017

Personal

Currently…

1. thinking… seriously about my plans for next year. It’s going to be interesting.
2. realizing… that I’m a little bit behind on all of my regularly scheduled posts (including this one)… I’ll try to get to that this week.
3. surviving… NaNoWriMo! Now I just have to finish writing the story. And revising it. And get back to work on that other thing I was working on.
4. decluttering… my phone. (Always finding new and inventive ways to procrastinate… I’m only kind of joking.)
5. hoping… that nothing sabotages my running plans this week. Mostly because I’m ready to stop for the season (it’s getting icy), and I’d really like to end on a high note.
6. watching… the Infinity War trailer over and over again, because of course I am.
7. trying… to keep the NaNo momentum going.
8. starting… my Christmas shopping, and freaking out a little.
9. tidying… up the balcony. I keep getting sidetracked by the weather.
10. making… hot chocolate.