Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gearing up?

This morning, I'm pondering whether buying a fancy SLR is a silly idea or brilliant. Is this just an obsession with neato toys? Or, if I have the fancy camera (Nikon D3000, a starter SLR, around $500), will I actually figure out how to use it enough that I can take, if not fantastic pictures, at least serviceable, publishable pictures to back up whatever stories I might some day actually write? Hard to say.

My mother is famous for filling the basement with craft-project pinecones and now having an attic full of 17 boxes of material for quilting projects that, largely, remain UFOs (unfinished objects). Is this just the gathering-parts gene at work?

I've had my dips of purchasing insanity. Years ago, I bought some writing software. The problem was, while it would have made everything all neat and tidy, I still had to write - to come up with the ideas and characters and string everything together in some sort of story. That I had places to put everything was nice, but I never did much more than make a few notes that any small file could have contained. Clearly, a useless bit of equipment.

I do like taking pictures, and did take zillions on my summer travels with my point and shoot. What I don't know is how to actually use any of the settings. I don't understand F-stops, lighting, even focusing. There are features listed for this camera are utterly mysterious. Maybe I'd figure it out and it would become second nature and I could focus on the art, much the way grammar is just a given in the world of writing, the rules you follow (well, most of the time) to weave the tapestry. Then again, maybe it's a toy that sits on the shelf. Hmm.

I do know that I finally figured out why I was so irritable about a friend starting up what is so far a rather cool site, Magnesium Photos. He is a photographer - an obsessive, I-take-my-camera-everywhere, don't-breathe-you'll-mess-up-my-photo variety. And the way he spoke about the words, as just filler, something that any ole person can do to fill the space, annoyed me, much the same way that it would annoy him if I said, oh, you know, photographs are all the same, as long as they're in focus. We have our biases. I'm a writer that likes taking pictures on occasion to acccessorize what I've said. He's a photographer that sometimes writes to explain the pictures.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Derailed - Creative (as in fictional - I've had some weird questions on this) response, riffing off the song "Fragile."  Seems I may have netted one of the days as a writer on the project down the road.  Yay!  Cool project.  Go donate some money. 


What if I break?
Teetering at the top of a ladder, I ponder the wisdom of living alone and working with art projects at a height. What if I break my neck, end up the crazy cat lady corpse consumed bit-by-bite by her two underfed cats? Or, what if I break my arm, and have to shockily make my dazed way to the neighbors with my arm flapping about at an odd angle, a bone, perhaps, jutting through skin, so that they can take my uninsured-self over to an inhospitable hospital to accrue insurmountable bills? What then?

But I've cut the shape, painted it racy red, know just where to affix it with wire to the mobile so the crystal counterbalance salvaged from a chandelier doesn't splay up at too awkward an angle. I lean farther out the last step. The cats lick their lips.

What if I spill?
“What if I spill the beans?” Jerry looks up at me with mild alarm, then realizes I am standing in my kitchen, holding a bag of kidney beans. I'm planning chilli for dinner tonight, our last night together before he leaves. Again.

“I trust you,” he says, looking back down to fiddle further with the music on his laptop. Viola strings vibrate across my studio.

“Mmm, I bet your wife says that too.” I shake the beans and pour them into a bowl, serving up a rattle of maraca rain. I look up to find Jerry still looking at me. We smile knives. Kindly butter knives, but knives.

What if I fall?
The hydrocodone damped down the throbbing in my arm, although the itching seemed unaffected, blossoming in the center of my casted forearm. It should have been that I remembered the falling, had the slow-motion descent as my feet lost contact with ground, a glorious moment of flight. But it wasn't like that. Just arrival, fallen and felled, and the s-shaped curve in my arm.

Even after the cast, the hydrocodone damped down, the drifty gift of opiates: indifference.

I'm left in your hands, not knowing all the answers.
Jerry, itches also unscratched, holds my hand and rubs small circles on the back of my palm with his thumb, distracted at that moment by squirrels chattering by the window pane. Light hits the pale purple scar on his arm where his accident burned away the skin. Delicate blond hairs are reclaiming the space in the weeks since the awkward call. He wanted you to know he'll be fine, she said.

A small crease by his eye marks where, when he was eight, the shattering of a tossed bottle narrowly missed blinding him.

With my free hand, I am writing furiously: flooded, spilling, broken, falling.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Floating Meanings

So another addictive aspect to art is that, at its core, it's about trying to find meaning.  To make sense of the world at large, or our tiny personal worlds, or both, and transform those elements into something of worth, from entertainment to deep thought to political statement, engages both the emotions and the intellect.  Perhaps that's why the process of creating is so aborbing, pulling in all sides of the brain, the intuitive that understands why this details says something about a character or situation, and the critical, that knows how to order the story, that keeps tabs on how an external observer could interpret.  I've often re-read pieces, and realized way, way after the fact that I had no idea why I put something in at the time, and yet, it makes total rational sense later, is indeed crucial.  I see later what I already knew, but didn't yet know I knew. 

Eh, I'm not getting at what I want in this post - but I'll let it fly anyway.  Perhaps when I come back to it, I'll see the obvious presenting itself. 

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Equipment Failure

Dead and gone for a week, my beloved computer is restored and I am joyful.  After being adrift, scanning for friends' and library computers just to manage pet schedules over the holiday madness, to type on my own machine in my own home feels delicious. 

Here's what I (re)learned after a week of not writing (and scooping too much kitty litter): writing keeps me sane.  Even if it's just emails to friends, random chatter here and there, I need to have that flow of written words to keep equilibrium.  Otherwise, the gears grind, and I circle over the same ground over and over, conclusions unreachable. 

In theory, I could do as I used to do and write it all down in a notebook.  I still carry a tiny notebook with me everywhere, although largely, it only contains the list of dogs I need to walk that day.  But I have a shelf full of old journals - some hysterical and painful reading, depending on the era and my mood reading.  I've switched over to digital land though.  I can no longer read my own handwriting half of the time. Typing is an extension of my thought, a tactile experience where I only vaguely remember the process it takes to create the words.  It's not unlike playing the piano, excepting it's all improvisation here at this keyboard.