Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A wonderful quote

I read a lot of photo blogs, bike blogs, political short, I just read a lot. But I came across this today on the Pixiq site in a piece on digital vs film photography by John Neel:

"Creativity does not come packaged with any camera, digital or film. It doesn’t come with artistic filters or with endless shooting settings. It doesn’t come from a Leica or a Canon 7d. It doesn’t come with HDR or optical stabilization or any of the next amazing things out there. Creativity comes from being able to see the world, not like everyone else, but by the creative ability to express what we see through our own unique vision. Uniqueness can come from following your own path, making your own decisions and choosing your own tools, being confident in your abilities and having a keen awareness of your subject." (emphasis added)

That passage struck a chord because it's so applicable to many other endeavors, including cycling. It certainly applies to writing. Neel's comparison of digital and film would be analogous to the use of a word processor or a finely crafted notebook. One is a digital process, the other is paper, but neither provides a guarantee that the thoughts expressed will be creative or even coherent.

This has particular relevance; "...following your own path, making your own decisions,...being confident in your abilities..." because I went through a crisis of confidence earlier this year when I doubted my capability as a writer. An editor and I had a falling out over a piece he wanted. It was my impression that he really wanted a hatchet job on an organization, yet he said I was free to reach my own conclusions and that he'd accept them. I spent most of August doing research, wrote a first draft and submitted it. He rejected all of it, and said I'd have to start over or he could simply spike it and pay me a kill fee.

I was pissed off. I'd spent hours doing research and interviews, and with a deadline looming, a do-over was simply impossible. I agreed to the kill fee. It was slow in arriving, and when it finally did - after some back and forth emails - it was short.

The whole episode left a very bad taste and it's obvious I won't be doing any work for that publication again.

But the worst aspect of the whole debacle was the effect on my self-confidence. I was depressed and miserable, conditions that impede writing, especially comedy like the Wally Crankset stuff. I gave brief consideration to that universal writer's crutch - alcohol - but after a couple of headaches and the inevitable midnight marches to the bathroom, that went by the wayside. Alcohol kicks my kidneys into high gear and only seems to inspire my bladder, effects I can duplicate by having a several glasses of water right before bed.

I don't write for the money. If I did, we'd all starve. But there's a kind of satisfaction found in doing something well, whether that's writing, photography, or even trout fishing. As Neel points out, we go about these things in unique ways as we discover our individual paths. That's what makes this so much fun, that act of discovery and the surprises along the way.


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