Sneaky universe

Turns out the universe is sneakier than I thought. I’ve been feeling very un-creative lately. I’ve been worrying that I haven’t been writing enough, that I haven’t been photographing enough, that I haven’t been blogging enough. I’ve felt like I was wasting my days off from my day job because I haven’t followed through with my plan to devote them solely to creative endeavours. Instead they’ve been filled with dentist appointments and grocery shopping and other mundanities.

And then the universe started sending me messages–little moments of synchronicity that have become impossible to ignore. More and more of my friends seem to be reaching turning points in their lives. Everybody seems to be discovering that where they are now is not where they want to be and, in order to get where they want to be, they need to make scary decisions. The theme coming out of hours of deep and meaningfuls is that in order to get what you want, you have to take a risk and jump in wholeheartedly. You have to believe that you have the ability and determination to pull off your dreams. I started this process last year. However, it’s becoming clear that I haven’t quite managed to follow through. Going part-time at work was a big step for me, but I haven’t done enough with the time. I think the universe is onto me.

Perhaps it’s just me, but the number of inspirationals about following your dreams in my Facebook feed seems to have doubled in the last couple of weeks.

And then there are those stupid gambling ads on TV that keep yelling at me to back myself. Even Masterchef the other night (I swear I wasn’t watching it and just flicked over in the ads) was going on about how I am the only one that can make my dreams come true and that if I don’t actually do anything, I’ll forever be just a dreamer.

So I was going to write a blog post about how I was failing at writing and failing at photography and failing at being the change I need in my life. But as I was doing it, I started to come up with a list of all the things I’d been doing instead of being creative. And I realised I’d made a mistake.

A couple of weeks ago I did two of half-day courses in Photoshop and started going back over old photos to see if I could improve them. Turns out I could…

I also started a document of random, incomplete story ideas the other day. So I’ve actually been doing a couple of hundred words of writing every day even though it’s not on one specific project.

And on top of that, I made up some Valkyrie wings for a fitness model friend for her next comp. image1   So it turns out that I’m a bit more on track than I thought. Instead of the horrible I-Haven’t-Done-Enough motivation I had at the start of this post, I’ve got more of an I-Can-Do-This motivation. It’s amazing how much more motivating that is. Thank you universe. I need to go write something.

Finding my vision

I’ve been reading a lot about photography lately and something that really hit me was the advice (from many professional photographers) that, in order to become a professional, you have to specialise. At first I resisted because I didn’t want to lock myself into one style or subject. I liked the freedom of creativity and being able to do whatever I wanted. So much about photography fascinates me and I feel that I’ve created great images of lots of different subjects. However, the more I thought about it, the more specialising makes sense. In order to become really good at something, you need to devote a significant amount of time and energy to it. And while photography may seem like a single discipline to be perfected, the techniques required for landscape photography are vastly different to portraiture, which are vastly different to still life and so on. Spreading my time and effort across these varied subjects means that my growth in any one will be that much slower. Also, working without passion means that my work is much less likely to capture the sort of inspired beauty and fascination that I want from it.

That got me thinking because, of course, that immediately eliminates some areas of photography for me. For example, I will never be a wedding photographer because, for me, photography is a little too personal. I want to create and capture my vision, not someone else’s. I’m pretty sure that view wouldn’t sit well with many brides and grooms. Thinking further, I more or less stumbled on what I think I want my photographic focus to be: fine art, with a hint of fantasy. I want to take ‘ordinary’ beautiful scenes, preferably natural ones, and be able to add just a hint of fiction, fantasy and story. That captures everything I love about photography and creativity, from landscapes and weather (you need great settings) to stories and magic and interesting characters.

This will mean that I have to get better at Photoshop and post-processing, so I’ll have to start taking courses this year. I will also have to start developing my costuming and prop-making skills, because sometimes that’s all that would be needed to push a scene towards the fantastic. Luckily, I already really love making those sorts of things.

Steampunk self-portrait
Steampunk self-portrait

This photo is my first conscious pursuit of my vision. I dragged out the costume I made for my steampunk Christmas murder mystery and assembled a few props from around the house. It took quite a long time because I had to keep getting up to run around the table and check the images in the camera–this sort of thing would be much easier with a model. I’m extremely happy with the result, though.

So, a fancy dress party here, a bit of cosplay there, drop it into a beautiful landscape and add a touch of dreamy post-processing and I think I’ve found my vision.

Chasing an ending

2014 ended in an incredibly appropriate way for me…with a storm chase. It was only a few kilometres from home but it still counts. I saw the cumulus towers going up on the horizon, checked the weather radar and warnings and raced off to get a good position to watch it coming.

NYE storm 1

It wasn’t a very big storm, it didn’t get severe-warned and it fizzled pretty quickly.

NYE storm 2

But it still looked impressive and the chase took me back to the endless days driving across the endless plains searching for supercells in the American Midwest.

NYE storm 3

Because that’s what started all this for me. I found my passion for writing and photography and creativity on the plains, looking for storms. The swirling vortexes sucked me in, blew apart my old life and set me on a new path–into a dark forest, lit by lightning.

Tempus f*#$it!

Lately time has been a major concern of mine. Specifically, the lack of it.

Actually, that’s a lie. I have lots of time. It’s just that, probably for the first time in my life, I have passion. There is so much that I really want to do. Every day I want to be out taking photos and then coming home and spending hours Photoshopping. I want to write and write and write and perhaps even finish one of the 21 stories I have going at the moment (I may have started a few more since I last posted about writing). Not all of them are good or going somewhere, but I need to write them to find out. I want to finish editing the manuscripts that writer friends keep sending me because it’s just so much fun to be able to in some small way assist these great writers. I want to practice yoga until I can do away with my blocks, touch the floor with straight legs and maybe even manage to hold the Half-Moon Pose. I want to read the mounting stack of fascinating photography magazines and books that my family keep giving me. I want to update this blog more than once a month.

Strangely, it feels like all of this has piled up on top of my long work days and I just don’t want to do any of it. Do you know how annoying that is? What kind of messed up freak discovers their passion, delves into it in earnest to make it the focus of their life and then turns all apathetic? That’s not how it’s supposed to work!

Yes, I should be losing interest in my day job because it’s stifling and toxic at the moment.

Yes, I should be getting more and more involved in my creative endeavours because they bring me joy and purpose.

No, I should not be coming home from work, glancing guiltily at my yoga mat, To Read pile, computer and camera, getting all anxious about the amount of stuff to do and spending the evening watching Big Bang Theory re-runs. WTF?!

A writer friend asked me if I wanted to join him in doing NaNoWriMo next month. I almost had a panic attack. It’s taken me a whole week to rev myself up enough to write a 500-word blog post. There’s no way I could manage upwards of 1,500 words a day at the moment.

My journey into the forest must have accidentally turned into a dead-end canyon. Filled with clinging brambles. And probably snakes, too. But with a very comfy couch…

On the other hand, I did spend all Sunday putting together a photo book of pictures from one of my most epic vacations, which has been on my To Do list since 2011. And I did spend ten minutes yesterday halfheartedly flailing around on my yoga mat, which is more than I’ve done in a few weeks and I guess counts for something. And, hey–I just wrote a blog post. So maybe this is just a bit of a block that I have to patiently work my way through.

And there’s only six weeks until I go part-time at work. Maybe that extra day a week will make all the difference.