Snapshot #122 | 10 Things for 10 March 2019

Personal

Currently…

1. talking… myself out of buying a fantastic red statement couch for the office… to replace the fantastic red statement chair I bought for the office, and deeply regretted approximately two months later.
2. looking… forward to Captain Marvel. (I’m going this evening, and I’m giddy.)
3. loving… some of the photos I’ve been taking this week. It’s been a very good few days.
4. shovelling… snow. Twice in one day. The second time, in the rain.
5. sleeping… in. Sort of. Technically. This is the one day a year that the cat lets me.
6. daydreaming… about travel. I’m having a serious wanderlust moment right now.
7. approaching… the end of this draft of Violet Lane, and I’m really loving it. And I’m on track to meet my end-of-month deadline. (Assuming the final setpiece doesn’t give me as much trouble as the midpoint did… but even if it does, I think I have time to figure it out.)
8. figuring… out how to make all the intense writing sessions I’ve been doing fit into the rest of my schedule.
9. troubleshooting… my sourdough starter. I’ve figured out why it wasn’t working; the next attempt should be a winner.
10. falling… down some really fun research rabbit holes.

Snapshot #73 | 10 Things for 26 March 2017

Personal

Currently…

1. wishing… that grocery delivery was an option in my area. It would be so helpful.
2. having… kind of a weird week. Nothing major, just… random daydreams and a lot of internal debates that don’t actually go anywhere. 😐
3. loving… this TED Talk. (This one was good too, but in a slightly-depressing kind of way.)
4. thinking… about alternatives to Evernote. I’ve loved the app since 2009, but… ugh. I hate the most recent iOS version. I’ve accepted a few minor annoyances over the last little while, but it might be time to switch.
5. wanting… a change of scene. I keep finding myself browsing airfares. And apartment listings in cities I’ve never visited. Or just wondering how practical it would be to swap my bedroom for the office. (Not very.)
6. starting… to outline the second draft of the NaNoWriMo story. (Have I mentioned that I’m basically rewriting the entire thing from scratch? Because I’m basically rewriting the entire thing from scratch.)
7. buying… the supplies I need to finish up that bag I’ve been making. Finally!
8. getting… annoyed. I’m looking at non-specific schedule disruptions for the next week and a half, and it’s throwing me off my game.
9. trying… to get focussed. (See numbers 2, 5, and 8.)
10. hoping… that the weather evens out soon. I am ready for spring. (I probably said the same thing last week, didn’t I?)

Snapshot #62 | 10 Things for 23 October 2016

Personal

Currently…

1. working… on my NaNoWriMo outline. I wasn’t feeling that great about it, but things are finally starting to fall into place. I have a plot!
2. falling… behind. Again. I was doing well for a while there, but NaNoWriMo prep has taken over my life.
3. taking… photos. Not as many as I’d like (see #2, above), but I’m happy with them.
4. figuring… out my plans for the giant painting. For real this time. I might be able to get it finished by the end of the year.
5. getting… ready to start my Hallowe’en baking. Because I bake for Hallowe’en, for some reason. (I’m also starting to finalize my plans for holiday baking.)
6. feeling… focussed.
7. prototyping… the tote bag pattern I’ve been working on. My construction plans are good, but the dimensions are off.
8. planning… the next week, and the next month, and the rest of the year. Time to get things back on track.
9. daydreaming… about where I want to travel next. Too many choices.
10. trying… to decide what to read next.

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.

3 Days in Montréal | reghanskerry.com

Three Days in Montréal | October 2015

Personal, Photography

I didn’t exactly intend to go to Montréal this year.

I’d been thinking about travel a lot. I decided early in the year that I’d been limiting myself to day trips for too long and had to make real travel a priority, but none of the trips I was planning were quite feasible yet.

But the summer brought a bit of an existential and creative crisis, and the wanderlust that’s always buzzing in the back of my mind got overwhelming. I really needed to be someplace else, preferably someplace unfamiliar, utterly on my own, for just a few days. Montréal seemed ideal—affordable, just different enough to get me out of my rut, and close enough that a weekend trip made sense.

It was perfect.

Hôtel de Ville, Montréal 2015-10-24

Yeah, I had one or two moments when my introversion got the better of me and all I wanted to do was sit in the hotel room and watch tv. I didn’t get through half of the things on my wishlist. And, apparently, I’m terrible at buying souvenirs. (I tried. Really. But all I came home with were photographs. Which isn’t a bad thing, but still feels a bit absurd.)

But I spent three days wandering around a new city, all alone. I got a little bit lost looking for an ATM. I took a bunch of photos, and I drank amazing coffee. I got mistaken for a local at least once. I struggled with my French, but not as badly as I’d feared. I confirmed my long-held belief that I really need more than three days in a city (a week might be ok, but I doubt it). I remembered why I take photos, and why I want to make cool things.

A few days before I left, I mentioned to someone that I was a little worried that the trip wouldn’t actually take the edge off the wanderlust I’ve been feeling, that it would amplify it instead. And, yeah… that kind of happened. It reminded me, on a real, visceral, level, that it is actually travelling I’m in love with, and that I wasn’t just feeling a vague sense of nostalgia for other trips I’ve taken.

Which means it’s time to start building up my travel fund again.

Le Fleuve Saint-Laurent, Montréal 2015-10-24
Old Montréal 2015-10-24

Montréal | 23-26 October 2015

(I’m still going through my photos, and will be adding more to the Flickr gallery.)

Where I Stayed: Le Relais Lyonnais is a tiny, comfortable hotel, perfectly located on rue Saint-Denis—reasonably close to Old Montréal, surrounded by dozens of cafés and restaurants, and an easy walk to major transit lines (including the airport shuttle). I loved it—crisp, modern rooms in a cozy, Victorian building—though for a longer stay I might choose a place with more on-site amenities. I do wish I’d been there just a few weeks earlier; I was upgraded to a third-floor suite overlooking the street, and the balcony would have been amazing on less autumnal mornings.

What I Ate: It’s weird. Montréal is a foodie’s dream. And I really wanted to take advantage of that fact. But I didn’t, not really. I almost had too much choice—on the rare occasions when it actually occurred to me to eat something (it turns out that, if I’m not at least a little bored, I have to be really hungry before I notice), I got overwhelmed by my options and resisted making any kind of decision. And it doesn’t help that I don’t actually like poutine or smoked meat, so those ‘must-try’ options weren’t on my to-do list.

Old Montréal 2015-10-24

However, I do like bagels, particularly Montréal-style bagels, and that definitely was on my list. (If you’re expecting New York-style bagels, you’ll be disappointed, but I’ve always preferred Montréal-style, on the rare occasions I can get them fresh.) Thankfully, Hinnawi Bros. Bagel & Café was only a short walk from my hotel, and it turns out to be a busy and comfortable little café with a great view of the street for people-watching. I probably should have felt a little guilty about the amount of Nutella on my breakfast bagel, but… I really didn’t. It was delicious and absolutely worth the mess.

For coffee, I loved Saint-Henri Micro-Torréfacteur. The cappuccino was smaller and stronger than I’m used to—which is a good thing (seriously, this was one of the top five cups of coffee I’ve ever had)—and I really wish my French was good enough to figure out what, exactly, was in the muffin I ordered. (By pointing at it. The barista was very nice about my terrible, terrible French. Everyone I dealt with was.) There was chocolate. And oats. And some molasses. Like a really good bran muffin, but I’m not entirely sure there was bran in it. And it was So. Good.

Montréal 2015-10-25

And while I might not like poutine, I do like fries, and the Belgian-style frites at Frite Alors! might be the best fries I’ve ever had. (I’d never actually had an opportunity to try Belgian-style fries until this trip, though I’d wanted to for at least a decade.) The grilled chicken burger was fantastic, too. Yes, it’s a chain, and I have no idea what locals think about it. But one of my favourite things to do in a new city is try fast-food places and chain restaurants that don’t exist back home. (That, and wander around supermarkets. Which I also did.) Fine dining’s great, but not something I’m interested in doing all the time, even on vacation. Plus I feel slightly less awkward sitting alone and playing with my phone while I eat in a casual restaurant than in a fancier place.