IWSG Blog Hop: Creative Outlets

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The first Wednesday of every month, the IWSG posts an optional question, encouraging members to read and comment on each other’s blogs.

December’s Question is:

Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have?

Other than writing, photography has been my most consistent creative outlet. I loved taking pictures even when all I had was a disposable film camera.

I remember having at least one 35mm and  one 110 film camera as a child. I can’t quite picture the 35mm, but the 110 was long and silvery. I was fascinated by my mom’s polaroid, and eventually, she bought me a couple kid-friendly instant cameras, one of which printed the pictures on stickers.

When my mom started selling antiques on Ebay, she bought a digital camera so she could photograph the objects she sold. When one camera would get old or become obsolete, I remember being able to use that to take pictures of and with my friends instead of my instant cameras.

I loved how digital cameras gave me the chance to see the picture right away without wasting material. If the picture didn’t come out right, I knew immediately. I could delete and retake it. This took away the stress of wasting material because of a mistake and I loved photography twice as much. Now, this is something I take for granted every time I pick up my camera.

I have to sit and think to remember what it was like to not really know if the image was going to be underexposed or blurry until it was developed. It’s hard to remember what it might have felt like to know I wasted material when an instant from my polaroid came out blurry too dark.

These days, the only images I print at all are my favorites.

Much like writing, photography is a medium of story telling with drafts, revisions, and edits.

Simply snapping a picture might be enough to just say “I was here.” Sometimes, that is enough. Other times, I might photograph the same scene or object over and over again at different angles and shutter speeds so I can tell a more detailed story. “I stopped to gawk because this caterpillar because those stripes are fascinating.”

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I’ve never had the patience to really learn how to make the most of my camera’s manual settings, so often, when I get home and load my images to the computer, they fall short of my expectations and I end up in photoshop adjusting exposure and color balance and adding filters.

Sometimes, when I really want to tell a story without words, I’ll let my imagination run wild while I merge and blend different photos into something so strange and abstract that it might be some kind of art.

Mostly, photography and photo editing are hobbies, but I’ve been dabbling in cover art, and that, my friends, is paid work. It means getting paid to tell a visual story. It’s writing with pictures. Well, maybe more like writing a book blurb with pictures.

Some of my favorite photos:

An Image can go a Long Way

The first week of national novel writing month has passed, and so has a shocking election. While I try to cope with the results and their implications, my writing is keeping me from going insane.

Taking a little time away from the actually writing to create a cover  image for my NaNoWriMo2016 novel, Like Birds Under the City Sky has not only helped me de-stress, but it is also boosting my drive to finish and revise this novel.

like-birds-under-the-city-sky-cover

When Micah’s mother finds out he is gay, she tries to force him into conversion therapy. His boyfriend, Charlie, gets a job so they can leave their parents, their town and it’s prejudices behind as soon as Mica turns 18. Unfortunately, Charlie’s job isn’t what he expected.

Instead of living in their own apartment and moving on with their lives, the two boys find themselves hiding out in an abandoned subway tunnel scavenging in dumpsters while they struggle to survive and evade the sinister men in suits who are hunting Charlie. 

Seeing something that vaguely resembles a book cover, even one made with extremely basic tools like iPhoto and Google Draw, reminds me that the narrative and character chaos I’m calling a first draft will one day turn into a book. Hopefully, it will be one I see on the shelf when I go into local book stores.

For now, it’s just a “shitty first draft,” but the image reminds me that is just the starting point, the universal starting point from which all literature springs.

 

Passing Storm Clouds

Instead of writing yesterday afternoon, I spent a good amount time just just standing outside, watching and photographing clouds as they moved in over the lake. There appeared to be fronts colliding in front of my eyes. I wanted to write a poem about it, but have yet even begin to find the words to truely capture what I saw, so perhaps, this is an occasion where images need to tell the story. I don’t think my photos truely do it justice, but they will suffice until I find the right words.

These pictures were taken after the darkest cloud had passed over us. They were much prettier when they were past me instead of approaching or above me. Like I usually do, I am seeing a metaphor between these and my writing. I received about 13 rejections this week, but this morning, the Flash Fiction Press accepted one of my stories. Rejections can be like dark storm clouds, but they always pass, leaving something beautiful in their wake.

An Inspiring Image:”Dull Blade” and The Doors

doorsWhen I fist took this photograph on a cold February day in Portland, I had no idea what it was going to do for me.

When I started selling on Etsy five years ago, I made prints of it and put them in repurposed frames and sold them. Not only did I sell several on Etsy, but I also sold several at local flea markets.

I no longer maintain my shop on Etsy, but these doors are still working for me. In November, my writing group assigned it a prompt where we had to choose an image of a door and tell a story of what was behind it.

For that exercise, I wrote a short story called “Dull Blade.” That turned out to be the second story I had accepted for publication, and the first one to be published that was full length, not flash. I hope you head over http://fantasycrossing.com/ and read it.

Here is a brief excerpt:

José couldn’t make his hands stop shaking. That was a problem. He couldn’t shoot straight when his hands were shaky, and if he missed, the demon on the other side of the door would probably rip his guts out...click for more!

If you ever find yourself lost for words, pull out one of your favorite photos and tell the story behind it.

-Sara