1 Dec 2018

I’m back

Hail readers!

I must apologise for having taken so long to return to blogging. Several things have conspired against me; I will summarise the problems briefly. Firstly, university, with its litany of papers, exams, and other work-related demands. Secondly, my photography—a new hobby that has taken up time and money, but which is, I suppose, necessary to keep my mind active and buzzing with ideas. Finally: I’m still trying to get Fallen Love published. I have therefore submitted to a number of independent publishers and agents.

I wish to return, then, to discuss my goings-on and life in general. Those of you who have followed my blog and writing adventures will be right at home; otherwise, simply read a few posts from the archive if you want to get up to speed. Additionally, I’ll add a few choice words to the connection between writing and photography—a topic I have touched upon before, but which has gained increasing importance now that I’m spending so much money and creative energy into it. Don’t worry: it’s good for my writing as well as my visual skills.

Life

There is a debate in aesthetic philosophy regarding the extent to which art is representation—or if it is representation at all. It’s a commonly held belief that fiction is inspired by life; but the word inspired can mislead here. Some things in life do inspire me, yet the link is often abstract, its origin mysterious. Then there’s the simple fact that a lot of things in life are antithetical to art: bureaucratic papers, for example, or never-ending work.

It’s unfortunate that the last few months have been more of the latter than the former. Being in my third year of university has something to do with it, as does the simple fact that I’ve not been writing seriously. It’s as if I’m living my life on autopilot: I take care of myself, do work and chores, but nothing about my actions is important. Writing gives me purpose; without it I am lost.

It does not help that I am struggling to feel enthusiastic about my courses. They are not difficult—if anything the opposite is true: they don’t challenge me enough. I don’t feel like I’m exploring new frontiers in my knowledge, or gaining valuable and skills and insight. Although courses like programming were time-consuming and sometimes frustrating, I did learn stuff.

The concept of equilibrium also has a role to play. The last two and a half years have challenged me in a number of ways, but I have now adapted to the challenges as best I can, and there have been no major departures from this equilibrium state. While this is not the same as being unchanging (there have been many changes as of late) this kind of life does nevertheless entail a certain taedium vitae.

To put it more simply: I need something new. Something wild and magical.

Photography and Writing

There are few writers who are great photographers, and photographers rarely write well; it would seem, then, that there is no connection between these two disciplines, or even that they are mutually exclusive. This, however, would be drawing a hasty conclusion. The relationship between photography and writing is complicated, but often fruitful.

Ansel Adams, the famous American landscape photographer of the last century, wrote of the importance of previsualisation: the act of imagining the image you want to make, and setting up your equipment to achieve that creative vision. The same technique applies to writing—the greatest mistake a writer can make is not having a plot, a character motive, or, most importantly, a story. A bad book is much like a snapshot; it is aimless and boring.

The real difference between photography and writing—this will, by the way, annoy some photographers—is in the gear. Frankly, photography is an expensive hobby because it demands expensive equipment. Good luck trying to shoot a puffin in flight without a good telephoto lens and a fast DSLR. (If it’s around dawn or dusk, that won’t be enough, and you’ll need to shelve a couple of grand for a super-telephoto lens.) If your subject is in low light or high dynamic range, you’re going to want an expensive camera with a large sensor. Even the price of peripherals like filters or tripods (or flashes!) can give newcomers a heart attack.

On the other hand, huge bestsellers like Harry Potter were written on a typewriter by a single mum on benefits. The difference is stark.

If you are privileged enough to be able to afford photography, though, it is a satisfying art form to work with, and generally less stressful than writing. Expectations, of course, play a role: with photography, I am content to sometimes lose a shot. Difficult light, and inclement weather (think 60mph gusts and sub-zero temperatures) all play a role.

When you’re writing at my standard, though, there is much less room for error. A typo is trivial to correct, but a cliché you missed, an awkward line of dialogue here—or a chapter that doesn’t fit into the narrative—and you’ve potentially lost an editor.

Concluding thoughts

I must abandon you once again, dear readers, for work beckons. I hope I have made my somewhat scattered thoughts clear for you. There are no guarantees as to when I will write once again on the Magical Realm, but if things go according to plan, it will be sooner rather than later.

Until then!

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