Black and white photo of a round sculptural object. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

Project366: #351-366

Photography

I did it!

Only just (and oh, hey, I did have a bit of an existential crisis these last few weeks! Fun!), but the year-long photo project is done! I’m not sure what comes next, but I’m going to take a bit of an (official) break from Instagram and figure it out.

Never underestimate my ability to pull something like this off at the very last minute. 😉

Autumn trees reflected in a lake. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

Project366: #281-300

Photography

I’m coming down to the wire. I’ve got about a week to go until my 366 project officially comes to an end, and I haven’t posted anything since [checks notes]… October. (Or November on Instagram.)

That’s a lot of photos.

Most of them are ready; some just need to be edited. I need to find some of them, because apparently my computer and iPad and phone aren’t talking to each other properly right now? Whatever. I’ve made this whole thing more difficult than it needs to be, but I’m going to finish this, and it’s going to be on time.

Expect a lot of photos over the next week. Don’t expect a lot of commentary.

Black and white photo of an open notebook with the year '2020' and word 'grit' written on the first page. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

2020 in Preview

Art + Craft, Personal, Photography, Writing

The year—the decade—isn’t even two weeks old and it’s already testing my optimism. I keep sitting down to write this post, and I just stare at the blinking cursor, trying to figure out what to say about my goals for the new year, trying to figure out how to say that I’m still hopeful. That despite everything, my goals for this year are more ambitious than they have been for the last few.

But maybe that makes sense. Everything’s terrible, so why not take some risks? This isn’t a year for ‘find a hobby’ or ‘build a sustainable writing routine.’ That was about building a foundation. This is a year to make some real, concrete changes. 

I’m not going to go into all of them here. Some are obvious and don’t need further explanation (finally get that photo thing off the ground, finish Violet Lane, keep querying), some are too personal, some just aren’t within the (current) scope of this blog. Some I’ll talk about later, but I just want to keep them to myself for now. 

But there are a few things I do want to publicly commit to:

Focus on improving my craft.

I said back in September that I felt l like I’ve hit a plateau when it comes to my skill, both as a writer and a photographer. That feeling hasn’t gone away.

Like I said then: it’s normal. And, really, I wouldn’t want to be satisfied creatively—I think an artist’s vision should always exceed their skill, at least a bit. It’s not that I think I’m a bad writer or photographer, I’m just not where I’d like to be, and it’s time to level up.

I’m not 100% sure about my game plan, here.

I know I want to work on building my technical skills, whether that means studying the writing books I’ve collected over the years, or working on specific photo projects, or taking classes, or something I haven’t thought of yet. 

I want to do more work—I want to take more photos and spend more time writing. I’ve done well, building a sustainable practice, but it’s time to expand on that. I need to be careful not to push too hard—burnout is always a real risk for me—but the pace I usually work at now doesn’t allow for much growth. 

And I want to build my creative confidence. I don’t (just) mean when it comes to sharing my work—I’m getting better at that, even though it’s still difficult. I want to be braver in the work that I create; I want to stop holding myself back from taking the photographs I want to take, or writing the stories I want to write. This is a process, and I don’t expect it to be a quick one, but it’s something I need to do.

So, yeah: not exactly a clear plan, but at least my goals are clear. I’ve got time to figure out how to get there.

Reevaluate my relationship with social media.

I’ve been wrestling with this for a while, and I’ve come to some conclusions:

  1. Instagram and Twitter are terrible distractions that make it harder to focus on the work I want to be doing.
  2. Facebook and Twitter are actively harming society and chipping away at democracy, and the people in charge embrace it because it’s lining their pockets. (Instagram itself isn’t as terrible on that front, but the ad revenue still goes to Facebook.)
  3. I’m sick of Facebook’s constant presence. I’m not even on Facebook, and I can’t get away from it. It’s creepy
  4. I miss blogs. I miss the old internet, back when it felt fun and creative and serendipitous. Back when it was still weird.
  5. Instagram is one of the things that has stalled my progress as a photographer. Yes, it’s helped in some ways, but it rewards sameness rather than creativity, and it’s hard not to play to that.

Any one of those is reason to jump ship—taken together, I’ve reached a point where it’s hard to justify my presence. At the same time, there’s part of me that feels like I need to be on those networks, for personal or professional reasons. I feel genuinely guilty when I don’t post to Instagram or Twitter for a few days, and I hate it.

So this year, I’m going to figure out a solution. I’m probably going to step back from the services that bother me most, or abandon them completely. I’ve already taken some steps in that direction, curating my feeds a bit, and I’ve already left Pinterest (they finally made it too difficult to avoid the cluttered home feed).

I’m definitely going to breathe some real life into this blog, rather than relying on those other services. (I might go back to the self-hosted version of WordPress, to get back a little control with that, but my account is paid up until the fall, so I’ve got time to think about it.) 


Mostly, though, my goals for 2020—writing and photographic and personal—are summed up in the watchword I’ve chosen: grit.

Very few of the things I want to do this year are going to be easy. And it’s going to be a difficult year, just in general. (I didn’t know how difficult when I started thinking about my plans, but… well.) I’m going to to be tempted to give up, or slack off, or set my sights lower.

“Grit” is what’s going to keep me going.

Looking back at 2019.

Art + Craft, Personal

2019 was… well, it was exhausting and awful and the world is on fire—literally and metaphorically—and I’m glad it’s over, even though I’m not wildly optimistic that things are going to get better any time soon. (American voters: prove me wrong! Also, register to vote, and make sure you’re still registered every month or so between now and November. Please.) 

But personally… it was the best year I’ve had since… I can’t remember when. I took some good photos—not as many as I would have hoped—and wrote some stuff I’m proud of. I (finally!) finished The Black Sun, and mustered up the courage to start querying agents. I saw some real progress on my fitness goals (which I don’t talk about a lot here, but it was a good year). I started figuring out how to actually do stuff with my time, rather than trying a bunch of productivity hacks that never quite gelled. 

Snapshot #143 | 10 Things for 29 December 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. trying… to think of ten distinct things I’ve done in the last two weeks, but it’s all blurring together.
2. getting… ready for the new year. I think it’s going to be good.
3. watching… the discussion unfold re: the RWA. (This is a good summary.) I’m not a member—I don’t write romance—but seriously, all writers should be paying attention.
4. debating… whether or not to cut my hair. It’s just reaching the length where I can do something with it, but… I’m bored. (Also: we’re on the eve of the ’20s. Short hair feels appropriate.)
5. making… too many cookies, as usual. Every year, I swear I’m going to scale back, and yet.
6. looking… forward to a normal day.
7. catching… up on the TV backlog.
8. feeling… tired.
9. starting… to get excited about photography again. (Still catching up on my 366 backlog, but it’ll be done by the deadline. Promise.)
10. wondering… what to read next. It’s not like I don’t have a huge stack of books to choose from, but nothing it jumping out at me right now.

Snapshot #142 | 10 Things for 15 December 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. rethinking… my holiday baking plans as soon as I figured them out. But I’m out of time, so I can’t make any more changes to my list. Really.
2. putting… up the tree. The 15th is the earliest I’m willing to go.
3. crying… over the Black Widow teaser trailer. Several times. (The Wonder Woman 1984 trailer makes me giddy. Both make me impatient for next year.)
4. listening… to DJ Riko’s 2019 Christmas Mix. I say it every year, but these mixes are amazing. They’ve introduced me to so much incredible Christmas music.
5. sending… my last query letter of the year. I’ve still got a few I want to send in January, but for now I can relax.
6. waiting… an absurdly long time for a shipment from Chapters/Indigo. Yes, it’s a busy time of year, but more than a week for my (in-stock!) order to even go in the mail is embarrassing.
7. accepting… that I’m probably not going to get much writing done this week. Or the rest of the year.
8. eating… Lindor truffles at 9:30 in the morning, because I’m an adult.
9. risking… frostbite for a few photos. By the time I put away the camera, I was genuinely worried. But at least I’m taking some photos?
10. realizing… that almost all of my goals and hopes for 2020 are within my control. Not sure if that’s awesome or scary.

Fog over Lake Bank, at sunrise. Photo by Reghan Skerry.

Project366: #271-280

Photography

(Getting to this a couple of days late, just because I didn’t want to publish three posts in one day.)

We’re getting into a weird time of year.

On one hand, the leaves have been amazing. I think I mentioned it before, but the last few years, it felt like the trees went from green to brown to bare with no stops in between. That hasn’t been the case this year.