Inspired | June 2018

Links

Every month, I share the articles and sites that I found most interesting. Here’s what caught my attention in June.

The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2018 by Jane Friedman: a downloadable chart detailing the most common publishing options

The 430 Books in Marilyn Monroe’s Library: How Many Have You Read? by Ayun Halliday

A study on the financial state of visual artists today by The Creative Independent: “With this report, we hope to paint a clearer picture of how structures of the art world work (or don’t work) to grow artists’ careers, help them earn a living, and satisfy their overall human needs.”

The Perfect Photo: Myth or Reality? by Emily Ludolph: “As creators, we can spend hours fine-tuning the tiniest details until we deem our end result “perfect.” But is there really such a thing as perfection when it comes to creativity?”

Why photojournalism matters by Elodie Mailliet Storm: “This image is the result of ten years of John’s work documenting the U.S. Mexican border, way before it increasingly became “news” under the new Administration.”

How Instagram’s algorithm works by Josh Constine

Why Photography’s B&W vs Color Debate Is No Debate At All by Lars Mensel: “Just as black and white now looks reduced to our eyes, color must have seemed gaudy to the photographers of the 1950s: It looked like embellishment.”

How everything on the internet became clickbait by Kevin Munger (via Now I Know, which I highly recommend subscribing to.)

This setup is perfect for people motivated primarily by diversion and duty — anyone with an internet connection has access to more high-quality information sources than Harvard professors 50 years ago could have dreamed of. It turns out that there just aren’t many people who want to take advantage of that; most of us are more into drama and display.

#BotSpot: Twelve Ways to Spot a Bot by Ben Nimmo: Some tricks to identify fake Twitter accounts

You Have to Fail a Little by Melissa Baumgart: “When I am flailing in my writing, certain I don’t know what I’m doing anymore, I put on Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse to remind myself that however bad it gets, it’s not as rough as being Francis Ford Coppola on the set of Apocalypse Now.”

The Hidden Queer History Behind “A League of Their Own” by Britni de la Cretaz: “By not including a gay character’s story in “A League of Their Own,” the film does to the history of the league what the owners tried to do its existence—erase lesbians from the narrative.”

What’s the most interesting thing you saw online this month?

Busy Bee | Reghan Skerry

Sketchbook #34

Photography, Writing

We’re officially half-way through the year. Or we will be in a few days.

I’m mostly saying that to remind myself, because it feels like 2018 is never going to end. It feels like we’ve been stuck in 2018 for three years already, it will always be 2018, this is our life now. This is an impossible year in which to write, or look for beauty, or make art in general. June in particular has been a difficult month; in light of the news, it’s hard not to feel like this is all a little bit shallow.

But art—writing and photography—is what’s keeping me sane this month. This year.

June was the month that I finally figured out how to function creatively in 2018. I’ve settled into a nice pattern: writing in the morning, working on other projects later in the day, and not allowing the horrors of the world in until after I’ve done something (anything) I’m happy with. It’s good.

I’m about a third of the way through the first round of edits on The Black Sun, and I’ve finally figured out how to make that final scene more dramatic. (As a bonus, it makes the story less dependent on a sequel. From the beginning, I’ve thought of this as a stand-alone with series potential—the world is really fun to play in—but my original ending was too much of a cliffhanger. The new one still leaves some plot threads untied, but it stands on its own.) I’m still debating a few issues when it comes to point of view, and how to drop some clues without relying on a second or third POV character, but in general, I’m happy with my progress.

I’m also pleased with the progress I’ve been making on my plans for the Violet Lane rewrite. Most of it has been brainstorming and worldbuilding, figuring out backstories and character motivations, but I started piecing together the actual story outline today. I’ve still got a lot of work to do before I’m ready to start writing, but I’m looking forward to it. I already feel like I’ve got a better grasp of the story than I did on either of my previous attempts, and I know that this version is going to be closer to the original vision I had for the story.

I still have moments when it feels like I’m not actually writing, like editing and outlining don’t count, but I’m getting better at ignoring that feeling. My ultimate goal is still to be working on three projects at any given time (one first draft, one in editing/revisions, and one in the outline stage), but I’m moving in the right direction, and that feels pretty good.

Now. Photography. I’m not quite ready to make those photography-related announcements that I’ve been dropping hints about, but I am working on them. If anything, I’m over-preparing: at least one of the projects is a little bit scary for me (in a good way!), and I’m definitely procrastinating by anticipating and researching every single problem that I might encounter. And, while I’m aware of that and making a conscious effort to overcome it, it’s still going to take me a little bit of time to get over myself and be ready to launch.

My black & white photo project hasn’t stalled again, and I adore some of the photos I’ve made in the last few weeks. (Though I do wish more of them were taken with a real camera, rather than my phone. I love the peony photo I took last weekend, and wish I could print a nice big version of it, but it’s just too low-res. But I wasn’t expecting to see such a perfect peony in the parking lot of a big-box office supply store, so….)

So, yeah: somehow, despite everything, I have managed to accomplish my creative goals for June. Or, if I didn’t accomplish them, I at least made progress, and can acknowledge how and why that progress hasn’t happened quite as fast as I might like.

What are my plans for July? Keeping in mind that the world is on fire, and everything is impossible.

I’m going to keep going. I’m going to write—or outline or edit, because that’s writing, too—more days than not. I’m going to take pictures, and look for beauty, and stop looking for reasons to not do the things that keep me sane.

More specifically, I want to make it another third of the way through the edits on The Black Sun (at least). I’m going to figure out the key scenes in Violet Lane, and the broad strokes of the outline. (I’d also like to commit to character names, both for the new people, and the ones who I’m not entirely in love with yet.) I’m going to announce at least one of those scary projects that I’m working on.

I’m going to try to carry a real camera a little more often, even if I’m just going out to buy file folders.

100 Days of Black & White: Day 70 | Reghan Skerry

100 Days of Black & White: #061-070

Photography

I’m still missing a day here and there, but that’s fine. I haven’t let the project stall again, so I’m happy.

I’m also starting to think about what comes after I hit Day 100. I’ve established that I need some kind of project like this to keep me motivated. And, like last year’s 365 Project, I really love what this project has been doing for my photography in general. I kind of don’t want to go back to mostly-colour work; I’m having too much fun exploring black & white, and I don’t think I’m finished with it.

So… I’m not sure. I’ve got thirty days (or a little more than thirty days, probably) to think about it. I’ll come up with something interesting.

Snapshot #103 | 10 Things for 17 June 2018

Personal

A day late with this (time got away from me this weekend), but here goes.

Currently…

1. working… on, like, six different projects, all of which I’m super excited about. (And, because creativity begets creativity, I might be toying with another idea. Or two.)
2. processing… my emotions about Anthony Bourdain’s death. I’m really surprised at how hard it hit me.
3. finishing… the four-week running program I’d been doing! Now I need to set a new goal.
4. going… with a lighter shade of blonde, at least for the summer. I kind of love it.
5. sorting… out logistical issues.
6. waking… up at three a.m. for some reason. And then staying awake until about half an hour before I have to get up. (It’s happened twice now, and I hate it.)
7. thinking… about baking something. Because now that it’s finally starting to feel like summer, why not look for more reasons to turn on the oven?
8. figuring… out how to fix the ending of The Black Sun. It’s kind of awesome.
9. trying… to get back on track. The last week was a bit of a disaster, as far as my schedule goes.
10. reading… for fun. Weird how easy it can be to let that slip, isn’t it?

100 Days of Black & White: Day 58 | Reghan Skerry

Portfolio Update: Florals in B&W

Admin, Photography

There’s a new project in the Portfolio!

The biggest surprise of my current photo project has been how much I love taking pictures of plants and flowers in black and white. Flowers are one of my favourite subjects anyway (especially this time of year!), but I thought it might get boring without colour. It hasn’t.

I expect I’ll be adding to this particular gallery as the summer goes on, but for now I couldn’t resist putting my favourite photos in one place. Enjoy!

100 Days of Black & White: Day 54 | Reghan Skerry

100 Days of Black & White: #051-060

Photography

I’m honestly starting to freak myself out with this. Just a little.

I’ve managed to stay (mostly) on schedule for more than one week in a row!

And, yeah, there are a couple (or four) photos in this particular group that I’m not really happy with. And, despite my best intentions when I began this project (and I had so many good intentions when I began this project), I’ve been relying on my phone for an awful lot of these photos. (And I’m starting to feel the limitations of my current phone, when it comes to photography.)

But this batch of photos also contains one of the very best photos I’ve taken… possibly ever.

I can live with that.

Lady's Slipper Orchid | Reghan Skerry

Snapshot #102 | 10 Things for 3 June 2018

Personal

Currently…

1. wondering… where the line between “research” and “procrastination” is. I’m starting to suspect that I’ve crossed it.
2. meeting… my running goals three weeks in a row!
3. catching… up on podcasts. I’m now completely up-to-date, for the first time since… November.
4. loving… the coffee station I’ve set up in the office. Of all the changes I’ve made in the past month or so, that’s my absolute favourite. (The office is still a work in progress, by the way. I’m hoping to be able to give you a tour by the end of summer.)
5. taking… care of some incredibly tedious and stressful technical chores. Not gonna lie: there are times when living in the future is kind of annoying.
6. thinking… about doing some kind of DIY writing/creative retreat.
7. resisting… the urge to buy a whole new set of furniture for the balcony. The current set is perfectly fine, I just need a nice day and the motivation to clean and paint it. (I’ve even got all the supplies I need! It’s just a matter of doing it.)
8. overthinking… everything.
9. starting… to notice that I’m creeping up on that three-month lull in motivation. But it’s early enough that I’m already taking steps to get back on track.
10. reminding… myself that it’s not quite summer yet, despite a couple of days that did a pretty good impression of it.

100 Days of Black & White: Day 47 | Reghan Skerry

100 Days of Black & White: #041-050

Photography

I’m not a superstitious person.

At the same time, I’m really reluctant to talk about how well this project is going. I feel like if I do, if I talk about how I’m finding a rhythm, I’ll jinx it.

But I’m not a superstitious person, and this project is starting to go really well. Not every single day, but on the days when it does go well, it’s kind of amazing. I’m happy with this project specifically, and I’m thrilled with my photography in general lately.