Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year, New Blog

OK, so some things escalated quickly last night. No, not because of the gloriousness of 2013; it all started with an email -- well, actually, a phone call, but the email is more Internet tangible, if that makes sense:

From: Seester
Subject: Project 365

So I am thinking of doing a project 365..,
Care to do it with me?


I have since learned that it consists of taking/posting a photograph for every day of the year. Every. Day. By the time I was able to get to a computer, she had sent me a list of daily prompts, and the URL for our joint blog account -- I, quite literally, only had to show up to the place, which was named, decorated, and has little doo-dads and clicky-thingies that I don't even know what they do.

Let's consider this "Honesty Hour": most of the time, I'm not even wearing pants, OK (as I was Monday morning quarterbacking my Meet and Greet experience, I realized that this was a topic I could have acceptably exhausted, and failed to)? And I'm now taking a photograph every day, to share on the Internet, of my boring life? I couldn't say no when I was asked; my sister and I so rarely do anything together, and I can't even remember the last time we attempted to. After all, we live in different towns, with twelve years difference in our ages: she's a mother of two incredibly young children, and I'm a college student with peculiar habits. By all accounts, the odds aren't really in our favor.

It's five minutes to two in the morning; I'm propped up in my cozy little bed, electric blanket on low, my Writing Playlist set to "Time: Shortest", while Lilly makes a nest out of the flannel. As Tom Higgenson talks me through the night -- much like any other night, really, if I think about it -- I'm wondering how this is even going to work. My blogging style is somewhat unreliable; I usually only blog if I have something to say. In that vein, I usually use different writing styles, photographs, songs, and video clips to get my point across. Even my private writing style is unpredictable: my creative output correlates directly with whether I have some spark of inspiration (last night, I wrote a wordplay based on a billboard in a photograph someone posted on their blog -- the billboard wasn't even a substantial part of the image, and was mostly blurry, but I felt it was my personal duty to play with the concept).

My playlist has switched to material I've used to write with for ages; I've used it in my creative process since 2008, so I've seen a lot of phases with it. Back in '08, I was practically addicted to the Pictures, Poetry & Prose blog. Every day, a new photograph was posted, along with a suggested prompt for what to write about on that day. I didn't always like the picture, but I used the images and prompts to write what I used to call Snippets; I later found out it is referred to as micro-fiction (this is still what I'm most comfortable writing, actually). From one image, a hundred images would spring from my imagination: characters I cared about, gave names to -- I loved one so much that I extended his story considerably, and it remains my only finished short story (he is also my favorite character, incidentally). When the PP&P blog ended, I looked for other alternatives for my exercises; using just a prompt; just a picture; a list of words. Gradually, lack of regular participation discouraged the folks in charge of those blogs, and they slowly trickled to an end. Only recently, I have found a plethora of new resources with the PP&P format, and I have been so very tickled with them.

I keep asking myself, "if you can do it with words, why don't you think you can do it with pictures? Hell, a picture's worth a thousand words, right?" It's now 2:39, the playlist is taking me back to a highway in Austin, and I've been sitting here trying to place my finger on what feels so wrong about this endeavor. It has finally hit me: I've never been good with non-fiction. Making things up has been the chief pleasure in my life, ever since I can remember -- the other kids never wanted to play make-believe games with me, because I was so particular. The first time I attempted to write for pleasure, I was nine years old; I wanted to write something wonderful, but, because of my love of biographies, I was determined that it had to be like the Little House series. I grew tired of that project within about forty-five minutes, and opted to write about scientists that brought a mummy back to life with chemically altered tissue donations (I seem to remember a red convertible in the story, but I cannot for the life of me remember what that had to do with anything). All fiction. Even my photography has been an experiment in semi-fictional storytelling. Whereas I don't believe in editing a photo after the shutter has gone off, I do take a great deal of time to consider angles, lighting, and focus to eliminate the things I find undesirable: humans, buildings, cars, poles, pathways, general human contact with anything. I take pride in the fact that I can stand in a crowded place, and make it look like I was there by myself (mind you, I'm sometimes waiting for several minutes to get the right opportunity for the shot). It's not uncommon to hear me muttering "get out of my frame, dumbass", while I squint into my viewfinder, and squish my nose against the camera body.

So, when dealing with non-fiction, where can I take it? My non-fiction is rather boring. Most days, I drink copious amounts of tea, and occupy myself with college courses, or occasional housework. My nights are usually spent writing until delusion causes me to realize the beginnings of sunrise. I've been looking at the list of photo prompts for January, wondering how I can possibly fill some of them: sun; through; grow. "Meet Me In California" is reminding me of how our elderly neighbor once saw me helping my mother unload groceries from the car, and how she asked me if I was home on vacation from school. Where can a girl like that fit "sun" into photography? How am I to interpret "through"? What represents "grow" in January, anyway? I've never been able to think in pictures, and to imagine showing my life instead of typing it, like I do on this blog, is intimidating.

"Losing Myself" is reminding me that I had similar concerns back in 2008, when this very blog was created (2008 was a frickin' weird year). I didn't think I would ever find anything to talk about, and I wondered how it would work itself out in the first place. Who would read it? More importantly, why would they read it? Now, here I sit, pounding somewhat harshly on a keyboard that endures such regular abuse, and thinking about the screen I saw prior to clicking the orange "New Post" button. For four years, that screen has said "Turret Full Of Ravens", with the various administrative buttons; now, a blog with a title I'm still not sure I understand is on top of it -- I'm so bad at numbers that I've tried, quite literally, to say 535,600 four different ways -- crating a list. I have this new list up in another tab, and have been occasionally looking at it.
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It's glaring at me, almost daring me to do something with it. "No posts. Start blogging!" I don't even know how far these dual administrative powers go; after all, I've never had to share my blog with anybody.

I'm not saying I won't do it; I'm not even saying it might not be fun, or something I'll come to enjoy. At this point, it seems like quite the undertaking. Not to mention that I've been through the beginning stages of blogging before, and I'm about to do it again. I'll have to find my footing in uncomfortable territory; for example, do we add captions to these pictures? Do we introduce words, or let the photographs speak for themselves?

I suppose I'll spend most of the day looking for an answer to the innocuous "TODAY" prompt gracing the tippy-top of our agreed upon list. If anyone would like to watch us attempt this crazy thing, please feel free to visit the communal blog. I don't know if there's some kind of subscription box kind of thing, or what would happen if you became a "member", but I'll ask about the layout details later (would you be notified of new posts by becoming a "follower"? I'll admit, I've been blogging for four years, and I don't have any idea how it works -- I write, and get page views, and that's all I know). Hell, I don't know if she's even going to have comments enabled (I don't, but that's because people in my Outernet life are always so quick with their opinions on everything I say that I don't especially want to be interrupted on the Internet, too), if she'll want us to use tags (again, how?), or to write "About Me" pages (since there are three of us participating in the project, she might).

New year, new blog. Imagine that.
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