Snapshot #130 | 10 Things for 30 June 2019

Personal

The last couple of weeks have been a bit of a wash, and I’m genuinely struggling to think of things I’ve actually done. But let’s try anyway.

Currently…

1. craving… ice cream. I haven’t made a single batch yet this year.
2. wondering… if the new coffee beans I got for the office are really this bitter, or if it’s just the way I’m tasting things right now. (Stupid cold.)
3. worrying… about the balcony plants. The building-supply place around the corner closed last summer (they’re building a hideous corporate HQ in its place, which infuriates me for so many reasons), and buying plants has been difficult enough without a nearby garden centre, but now I have to try to get potting soil before the herbs die.
4. avoiding… the rain. Barely.
5. starting… to wean myself off Pinterest, or at least change the way I use it. (If anyone can recommend something that works better as a digital ‘swipe file,’ let me know. I use Evernote for a lot, but sometimes a grid view helps spark ideas better than a list.)
6. reorganizing… the archives.
7. recognizing… some missing skills in my writing life, and taking steps to build them.
8. finishing… the stack of books at my bedside. I’ve still got at least a dozen ebooks to read, but it’s something.
9. trying… not to let my anxiety get the better of me.
10. looking… forward to things getting back to normal.

Snapshot #129 | 10 Things for 16 June 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. spending… a little too much money. I should be able to get back on track going forward, though.
2. being… indecisive. I said I’d been trying to choose between two very similar WordPress themes? I’m still second-guessing myself. If you have strong opinions for or against blog sidebars, feel free to chime in. That’s what it’s coming down to, and I keep changing my mind. (It seems like I do have strong opinions for and against sidebars.)
3. reading… Keep Going by Austin Kleon. It’s the followup to Steal Like an Artist and Share Your Work! and I really needed it right now.
4. looking… for a new podcast to listen to. (I knew this was going to happen.) If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments. I’d especially like to find good ongoing podcasts about photography—audio only—and 20th century history. Also I tend not to listen to things that run more than 30 minutes an episode.
5. playing… with a kitten that made Lucy look chill and well-behaved.
6. making… the first batch of cold-brew coffee of the year.
7. thinking… about my long-term goals, and trying to turn them into plans.
8. starting… to see some improvement in the whole running thing. (According to the numbers, at least. When I’m actually out there doing it, it doesn’t feel like it’s getting better or easier at all.)
9. catching… up on all the TV I didn’t watch during the season. (Or starting to.)
10. wondering… why all the Marvel Funko Pops are bobbleheads. It annoys me that they don’t match the other ones I have. (Apparently I collect those things now? I don’t know.)

Levelling Up

Writing

One of my resolutions for 2019 was to “actively seek out inspiration,” to not only look for the art and media that made me want to do things, but to engage with it more.

I also said I’d keep you up to date with that.

Um.

Right. Yeah. Sorry.

I haven’t figured out a way to talk about it that feels natural for this space. I tend to shy away from writing reviews or critiques—even short ones—but I don’t know a better way to do it. (If you have an idea, drop it in the comments! I really do want to sort something out.)

But I have been doing the important part: over the last couple of months, I’ve been more intentional in the movies I choose to watch and the books I choose to read. This time, it’s not just a matter of pulling myself out of a rut (though… it’s kind of that, too), it’s about looking at the media that thrills me, and picking it apart and figuring out why I love it so much—and why it frustrates me, because most of the time, the stories I love the most are the ones that infuriate me. Not only are my standards higher, but I spend more time thinking about the story, working through character arcs and plot threads, and eventually—inevitably—seeing the places where they fall apart.

(And, no, I’m not talking about Game of Thrones—I’ve never watched it—but I do have to acknowledge that it’s part of the reason I’m thinking about this stuff right now. I’ve been watching the discussion over the past few weeks, and it’s given me a lot of new ideas about craft and storytelling.)

(I am talking about Avengers: Endgame. At least a little bit.)

Snapshot #120 | 10 Things for 10 February 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. thinking… about trying my hand at short stories again. Maybe.
2. stocking… up on sketchbooks.
3. accepting… the fact that I need a new desk chair. Something that at least acknowledges the concept of ergonomics. (Fine. But why do they all look so terrible?)
4. wondering… how I’m going to get through the current stack of library books in three weeks. (Literally all my holds became available at once.)
5. eating… blood oranges. So few foods are truly seasonal anymore, it’s always a bit of a treat to find the things that really are only available for a couple of weeks.
6. making… my sourdough starter. I’ve been threatening to do it for months, and I’ve finally started. I’ll let you know how it goes.
7. standing… around in the most miserable weather of the winter, waiting for a bus that was a full hour late.
8. getting… back to that decluttering project.
9. trying… to find desktop wallpaper that I don’t hate. Still. I’m ridiculously picky about this kind of thing. When I do manage to find something that meets all my criteria—not too bright or too dark (unless it’s for mobile, in which case the darker the better), not too busy, quotes are good if they’re not too twee, I’m not a fan of brush lettering—I end up leaving it up until I’m thoroughly sick of it and desperate for something new, and… well. Here we are.
10. looking… forward to getting my days back this week.

The 2018 Reboot | Week 6 Check-In

Productivity

I’ve been kind of obsessed with todo lists this week.

I know. Try to contain your excitement.

Really, though, it’s a bit of a dilemma for me. For a long time, my go-to bio on social media included the phrase ‘list-maker,’ right after ‘writer’ and ‘photographer.’ I love a good todo list.

But I have no idea how to make one work for me.

It’s one thing if it’s a specific project, and I can just check things off until I’m done, but in a more general context… no idea. I’ve never found a system that works for me, whether it’s pen-and-paper, or bare-bones digital, or a digital system with all the bells and whistles. I always start with enthusiasm, sure I’ve found the perfect setup, but within a few months, things start slipping, I start putting things off, and then I start looking for the new perfect tool.

(The one exception—in that it really did work for me for about a year—was Habitica. Since I was in a fairly active guild, if I didn’t check things off it affected other people, not just me. But the todo list aspect didn’t actually have all the features I needed (specifically, more customizable repeatable actions).)

I know that it doesn’t really have anything to do with the tools I use. It’s me. (Though I do have a few issues with the Eisenhower matrix. I can see how it’s useful, but… yeah. I might go into detail on that at some point, once I’ve figured out how to articulate my thoughts.)

I need to figure out how to use a to-do list effectively, and how to motivate myself. If nothing else, I know that after a certain point, just checking things off a list doesn’t cut it.

The 2018 Reboot | Week 5 Check-In

Productivity

It’s been a while since I checked in on this little project of mine (here’s the explanation for my absence, if you missed it), but I’m happy to say that it’s only the check-ins that I’ve missed. I haven’t been neglecting the reboot itself, and I’m actually kind of impressed with the progress I’ve made in the past few weeks, despite everything.

Let’s get to the individual goals, shall we?

Snapshot #110 | 10 Things for 23 September 2018

Personal

Currently…

1. watching… the Captain Marvel trailer. Several times in a row. I am so incredibly excited for this movie.
2. spending… a lot of time thinking about notebooks.
3. making… ice cream and bread at the same time, because this is a weird time of year.
4. trying… to choose which books to read next. (It shouldn’t be this difficult!)
5. having… a small epiphany re: some of my anxieties around creative work.
6. getting… ready to (finally!) paint the living room. That’s one more step toward getting rid of the awful builder’s beige for good.
7. listening… to a lot Talking Heads lately. (Or… I just want to listen to ‘Life During Wartime,’ ‘Psycho Killer,’ and ‘Once in a Lifetime‘ on an endless loop. I should probably just watch Stop Making Sense again soon.)
8. craving… a change.
9. starting… to daydream about hot coffee and scarves and fingerless gloves.
10. realizing… that I haven’t written this month’s ‘Sketchbook’ post yet. So it’ll probably be late.

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?

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?