Scribbles and Snapshots

Now, where to begin?

This was the first question I asked myself as I sat down about three and a half weeks ago to begin my thesis. Having never taken on a project of this size before, I felt more than a little bit overwhelmed by what lay ahead.

For those of you just jumping on this blog’s bandwagon, welcome! Let me briefly recap what I’m doing: For my thesis, I’m planning on writing a series of short stories, along with a series of photo stories. In an effort to keep myself inspired, I’ve planned a somewhat nomadic summer, spending time in Maryland, Munich, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, with a bonus weekend in Seattle. I will also be taking a photography class to supplement the visual side of my project. My goal is to find a way to have the text and images work together in the most effective and meaningful way possible. It’s a big task, but I’m ready for it.

So, if you’re still reading, then you’re probably wondering what I’ve been up to. Yes? Great!

This whole first segment of my project—my, shall we call it, “pre-departure” segment—I imagined would be a time of planning, researching, and gathering. But let me tell you something about all of my plans thus far: I’ve thrown all of them entirely out of the window.

It’s funny, really. I’m such a planner. But, in just these first three weeks, I’ve seen that planning my stories has been a pretty solid waste of my time. Originally, I believed that planning out my work would help in keeping me on track. And while I think it may have helped me get started, it also left me somewhat uninspired. (Think: Me realizing that I had brainstormed six identical stories. Eep!)

For the first two weeks, writing felt like ramming a cast-iron skillet against my head, every day, for 5 hours a day.

Ah, yes, the life of a writer. Romantic, no?

1 Photo 02.06.15 13 06 06

I hear brain freeze helps writer’s block.

But then on Sunday night, while corresponding with a friend, I happened upon inspiration for a story that I have fallen in love with. So I’m beginning to think that plans are overrated.

Who knew that starting my thesis would lead me to realize deep, life lessons? And I’ve only just begun!

The photography part of my thesis has been a bit more stop-and-go. The first week, when I was still in Pittsburgh, I went to two photo exhibits–One at the CMOA and one at the Silver Eye Center for Photography.

A snapshot from the Silver Eye Exhibit

A snapshot from the Silver Eye Exhibit.

I also spent time with a really lovely Eugene Richards book, Red Ball of a Sun Dipping Down. This was a gorgeous combination of text and images. If your library has a copy, I would highly recommend taking a peek.

Last week, however, the photography element took a little snooze. But this Wednesday, I revved that engine back up for my first photography class!! I’m honestly so excited, friends. My class has two people, including myself (three, if you include the teacher), so we are going to get SO MUCH personal attention! I can’t believe my good fortune.

So far we’ve only really discussed the basics. This week, we have quite a bit of homework to get us comfortable with the manual settings on our camera. (Think shutter speed, aperture, ISO, etc.) Apparently we will never be using automatic again.

Since the creative process can be such an amorphous thing to document and describe, I thought I would also accompany each of my posts with little bits of inspiration. This way, you can see the external influences that are shaping my experience as a creative. (This is a term my photography teacher applies to people who practice any form of art. I love it and have decided to adopt it.)

This Week’s Inspiration:

For the Eyes: Red Ball of a Sun Dipping Down—really a must // Hand letterer Lauren Hom for a new definition of creative writing.

For the Ears: It’s gray and cold and generally miserable in Maryland right now. That means Alt J (the second Album especially) on repeat–to go with the mood–and anything by the Hot 8 Brass Band to lift your spirits.

For the Soul: Pema Chödrön’s Comfortable with Uncertainty, because uncertainty is one of the hardest qualities of life to embrace.  

I’m looking forward to bringing you along on this journey. So keep a look out for more interesting posts from my fellow fellows and me!

Til next time, friends.