Thursday, October 3, 2013

Working Styles

This morning while doing my writing, a realization came to me. Oh, I have known this, but I often didn’t talk about this one aspect of how I work because… I was a bit ashamed to admit it. This realization came to the forefront while I was trying to figure out how to describe, after the fact, some of the sights that I’ve seen in my traveling and in my photography. How do I describe things for which I have no names?

My revelation is that I tend to get in, get out, and move on. I visit a place and only take time to scratch the surface. I take many photographs of what catches my attention in the moment. I don’t plan or study the situation.

Why do I feel guilty? Because most of the professional photographers I know take their time to study the light, plan their shots, and concentrate on preliminary work. The “real” writers spend hours researching an area and talking to locals.  I feel these types of people will look down on me if they know I zip in and zip out; that I do my work later in cropping and editing on the computer and doing a little research on the web for bits of history.

But why should I have to feel ashamed of my working style? I don’t have to. This is the way I work and I enjoy what I do. There’s nothing wrong with that. In further thinking about this and writing in my journal, it’s brought to the surface that my travel writing and photography styles are similar. After all, this is who I am; it’s how I work. Why should I expect one to be different from the other?

I visit a place and because there are so many other places I want to visit and so many miles to travel and because I limit myself to a few hours a day, I do tend to hurry. It’s who I am, how I work. Yes. I get so excited about what I see. I want to share this excitement and joy with everyone! I can’t wait to get home to write all about it and look at and edit the photos.

So many times, because I don’t always do preliminary research, I get to an area and don’t have the names for the flora and fauna. I get stuck on trying to describe something for which I have no names. But isn’t that what describing is all about? Hey, I’m a writer. It’s my job to describe, so why don’t I take the time?

One of the reasons I take a lot of photographs is to help me remember later what I saw. With digital photography, I can take the time for photos that won’t be used for prints and will only be used for reference.

Why am I struggling with descriptions in my writing? Why am I struggling to find words? Again, here’s an admission – I’m in too much of a hurry. I hurry to write the story without looking at the photos. I will edit the photos and sometimes put them with the writing, but at that point, I don’t take the time to look close at the photos to get down to that detail for writing better descriptions. By the time I’ve written the story draft, then proofread and edited a couple times, I’m ready for the next adventure. Like those adventures, the stories are “get in, get out, move on.” Not that the writing goes quick. I often spend hours writing one and that’s without trying to be more descriptive.

I envy those writers who have the ability to be wonderfully descriptive in their narratives. William Least Heat Moon in his book, Blue Highways, wrote beautiful descriptions of what he saw along U.S. back roads. Duncan Dayton followed the trail of Lewis and Clark in his book, Out West. Lewis and Clark certainly had to be descriptive in their traveling as white men had no names for what they discovered.

For the most part, I want my photographs to show what I saw. However, there’s a cost issue in putting numerous photos in a book with a lot of text. I have to be aware of the print costs, which means watching page counts and comparing the cost of color to black and white.

So, this is where I am today. I have six books in process at the moment. The big one is the adventure south that I took this past winter which is taking me months to write. Cost is one of the biggest issues with this book as I’ve had to re-vamp my original goal of having many colored photographs along with the story. I wanted to have the photos show what I saw along the journey, but no one would be able to afford to buy the book. Now I am removing most the photographs and the ones I’m keeping will be black and white. I do plan to do a color picture book sharing photos of the journey.

I am also working on another travel book, plus I have four other themed picture books in the works.

Am I crazy for taking on so many projects? Probably. BUT, I get such joy in sharing the wonderful sights I see from the beautiful scenery to animals and birds to run down buildings and more. There’s so much I want to see and do while I’m still able. I am in the later part of life and I want to celebrate the beauty around me. It’s said, “Stop and smell the roses.” I say, yes, that’s great, but also appreciate some of the other sights, too, like things that are rusty, things found on the ground, look up, look down and let yourself wonder.

Every day I look out my window and say, “How beautiful the countryside.” I want to share this beauty, this love of life and of what’s around me.

My working style is “get in, get out, and move on.” After all, there’s so much more to see and more adventures to undertake. Life is good!

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