Writing - Do More Planning or Take Meaningful Action
Getting Published, maybe it's not as big a deal today with the advent of the blog. Yet somehow this desire attracts interested writer's from all over the world, it motivated me. My goal for this lens is to explore and compare the fruits from lots of planning versus, taking one thoughtful focused action. If you've read my lens Newspaper Journalism ~ The Photography Stringer you know how my first photos got published.
Those first images shared with a larger audience inspired me to begin planning behind the scenes in file cabinets. I purchased Photographer's Market textbooks, and took information on addresses and contacts for publishers I was interested in. Money was spent on colored file tabs, and hanging file folders. Suddenly, I was more organized than ever before, and spent countless hours compiling then storing information. It's something still done today, yet much smaller in scale. Truth be told the staff here at Squidoo helped me remember the importance of creating new content, sharing it thoughtfully, and in a timely fashion. A heartfelt thanks goes out to them, I love this!
Make Time to Create
The File Cabinets
That data from many sources got printed, then dropped into file folders meticulously. Title tabs were written out, even color coded then attached. Folders were planned for future content most never filled with anything. My file cabinet looked pretty, and it gave me a sense of accomplishment, I had a dream, and was working it.
A bit embarrassed now to say how long this went on, but here it is, nearly a decade! Sending self addressed stamped envelopes brought submission guidelines back that were dutifully dropped into the beautiful folders. I was on my way, LOL! I joke, it did have some value, had to go thorough it, and in fact it's perfect. You see, I had a plan, thinking at some point a masterpiece would be created, then published simultaneously at dozens of publications. Today, I've learned several things unknown then, maybe the most important, content must be unique and original! No telling how much time and money was spent that could have been used more effectively for creating images or writing. Soon, a much different more "right sized" approach would be taken.
I'm interested in the interconnectedness of things, an event was coming to help push me along. I kept reading, learning, and pondering how to share with a larger audience. More importantly, a question continued appearing, what would I share? Intuitively, I knew something was missing, maybe the kart was before the horse. Frustrated with the unknowns, instincts pushed me to do what I knew, take some pictures. A trip across the Southwest was planned lasting a month or more. The next day, a car was rented, off I went.
Content or Wisdom Quest
Deep into the trip, fatigue began to set in, desire and dreams were teaching me valuable lessons. They do not come free, and in fact take focused work and intention. An incredible lonesomeness took hold, I wanted to go home, then like a gift from the heavens, something wonderful happened.
Night was falling, I did not have a place to stay. Camping was my chosen method of rest, although motels were mixed in occasionally when car aroma would indicate bathing was needed. However, I had traveled into Monument Valley and there was not a town within miles. Suddenly, almost all at once, a huge storm came behind me from the East. My lonely feeling was replaced with excitement, I searched for a place to pull over. Bright flashes of light were filling the sky, it smelled different, the energy was palpable.
My journalism background informed me, there was no time to ponder long on decisions. Rushing out of the car unprotected set up, tripod extended, camera attached, first exposure started, then CRACK the first lightning strike. My brain said "you got it" film cameras had no preview, emulsion had to be developed. No way to know, there was no time to look anyway. Just as I got the first few exposures, the storm reached me with blowing rain and hail pelting my face. Retreating to the car, I crawled into the back seat. Somehow the tripod was set again, on the seat with one leg extended to the floor. The window was cracked open and the lightning began striking to the West.
Another Strike Captured Shooting West
The second lightning strike I captured would set the sail for a lifetime obsession, Storm Chasing. The weather moved quickly away and within minutes, clouds cleared and I could see remains of the sunset. Disappointed, I sighed and wondered what to do next, that's right, chasing was about to commence. In those days I had no scanner, laptop, or weather radio. On my own, I just drove towards the eye on an available road. Hours later, having to stop exhausted, I realized it could not be caught. Content with what I had, camp was made for the night, this time successfully. Read on just below if you wish....
Writer's Market at Amazon
A must have for all creatives, as mentioned in this lens, these textbooks are filled with invaluable information for all creatives!
Returning Home a New Project Emerged
Finally, returning home became necessary, I had just moved out west and did have a rented house, my own car in the garage. I was in between jobs and had to find one, but knew this new journey would have to be honored.
Having written a short story in school, I remembered enjoying it, and the instructor had encouraged me. Art needs a story, it's clear, I wanted to write one, and finally, the light-bulb came on, it had to be on the lightning experience. I went to the file cabinet, and soon realized it was nearly useless for this exercise. This is really the focus of this lens, nothing was going to happen until a story was crafted. I had to get started, and I did. Sitting down I brainstormed, it was then that a whole new plan emerged. Having talked with many published authors and hopeful "Want to Be's", most of them were cynical. They advised me to ready for an endless flow of rejection letters.
Forging ahead, once I sat down the story nearly wrote itself, I knew this time, the plan would be different. One piece would be written, and edited at least three times, then sent to one publisher. That's right, ONE! Over the next few years that story sat in the spiral notebook where it was crafted. My mind wondered, was I ready to endure the "endless stream of rejection" all the writer's told me would come? One day, I focused, sat down, and found the energy to enter those words into Microsoft's Word editing software. It was becoming more real, finally, meaningful action was creating things that could be seen, looked at, edited. Shared with one friend, then another, they were encouraging, but just polite I figured, somehow along the way I had picked up a self limiting belief. Down deep I thought writing was for the smart people, and I was not one of them. This belief was confirmed again when I confided in a relative and the response I'd heard before stung, "Oh Chris, just get a real job, it's easier". Somehow, I decided not to listen, I picked three pictures, laid them into the document, then decided on my first recipient! Nature Photographer Magazine was going to receive the story, off it went via email to an amazing individual, her name is Helen.
Months passed, it was agonizing, but finally, Helen reached out to me. She had good news, she wanted to publish the story! But, could I just offer one other picture, she asked, her vision was perfect, and I consented, sending her a few more images. A few more months passed and one day a box came to my house, it was heavy. 25 copies of the magazine were contained inside along with a check! It had happened, my first article, published, no rejection, the opening try. Happiness floated around for days, a copy of the first two pages of the spread lay below.
The Lightning Hunter
Another challenge for the artist is when to stop! Maybe that's why photography picked me, it's a click, finished. Not too much to decide after that unless your into post production, I'm not, again, the journalism influence, make it real, authentic. There's this story, calling it complete, to summarize.
1. Get Started
2. Go with what you know
3. Don't over-plan, the Qwest takes on a life of it's own
4. More will be revealed as you move along.
5. Share fearlessly
Now go find your light and shine it!