in which we are not clever or good for 365 days

I’ve been needing a creative kick in the pants.  More, a swift kick in the creative pants.  

And I’ve been giving lots of thought to this blog and what I want to do with it.  I suppose part of that is the time of year, this time of birth and renewal, and most of us start to think about change naturally.  But I’ve been feeling a little stuck here; losing motivation for participation in the blog world.  

Not long ago I protested to my lovely friend Susan that I don’t participate in blogging as a social networking forum; that I wish this to be a creative endeavour – to improve my writing, to become braver about what I put out there, and to foster my creative perspective.  But all that can’t be entirely true because blogging is a social endeavour by its nature.  And oh I love the friends I’ve made here; you’ve all enriched my world, and I mean that from the bottom of my heart.  

But it is like minds I seek in the comments section, not numbers.  I’ve had lots of fun participating in blog challenges; and it has found me some of YOU, but it also turned me off to one element of blogging – in that many people dart in and out of other’s writings to make a quick, superficial comments, just for the sake of making an appearance.  And for the higher count in your comments section you’re obliged pay the person back by visiting them and adding to their numbers.  After a period of that, the numbers just didn’t mean anything to me anymore.

Having said all that, I do want to come back and visit you more, and find more of you.  Things distracted me this year.  A new job in a new industry, which required lots of learning and new commitments.  And later in the year a new man.  Things with him have settled into something warm and comfortable; a kind of matured happy that accommodates me sitting in the same room with him and being able to sit at my computer and write.  Like now.

If I were to listen to myself when I offer advice to others about how to kick-start creativity, I would say “journal more.  Just journal.  Get the moments down, write with no mind to 'good' or 'clever.'  Just let go of the need to be good."

I’ve never lost inspiration – I still find that everywhere; and so it seems natural that I have been thinking about expressing that in a new way.  It’s my resistance from making a commitment that has stopped me from full out beginning a 365 Project.  But here I am, committing: a photo a day for 365 days.  

I’ve always loved taking pictures, and occasionally I can produce a pretty good shot.  I take lots of photos these days, mostly thanks to a half decent phone camera.  Sometimes I take pictures to help me find the appropriate words later. Sometimes I just like an image and can't articulate why. Or I take a picture because I don't want to forget a moment. Sometimes there are just no words.

So I have given birth to a new, sub-blog of sorts – a photo journal – my 365 project.  In keeping it separate from this blog, I hope to better sustain the focus for both.  This space will still be dedicated to the story, and my endeavouring to become better at telling one.  The photo journal is more for me; going public keeps one accountable.  It’s a forum in which I can write bad sentences and post shitty photos (and hopefully some good ones!) and just record my daily comings and goings for a year.

So it’s not so much a change for this blog, but just adding a new project on the side.  Getting back to journaling without mind to how the writing sounds, to it being clever or interesting, will improve the original project.  Of that I have no doubt. 

My Photo Journal is found here:  365 Project: Photo Journal

26 Comments

  1. Reply
    Lisa Golden December 31, 2011

    I wish I could find the appropriate words to tell you what an impact you’ve had on me. Your tag line “Pay attention….” is something I say to myself often. Almost like a talisman. As I’ve drifted through this year with so little direction, it’s been easy to shut off my inner observer and to miss the stories. Then I would remember that line and repeat it to myself and become alert again.
    I look forward to reading your words and images.
    Wishing you a creative 2012.

  2. Reply
    Jennifer December 31, 2011

    Lisa, your words couldn’t be more gratifying. Clearly you get it because you DO find the stories, always, and tell them wonderfully. Keep at it my friend.
    Looking forward to more from all of is in 2012. xo

  3. Reply
    Susannah January 1, 2012

    I shall be following along! 🙂
    Happy new year Jennifer, may it be a wonderful one for you, filled with love, happiness and lots of joy!
    It is good to know you.
    Susannah x

  4. Reply
    Jennifer January 2, 2012

    Thank you so much Susannah. So good to know you too, your bright and beautiful blog posts are always a lift.
    All the best for a joyful and productive new year. xo

  5. Reply
    Helen Johnson January 2, 2012

    Hi Jen
    I appreciate your comments, I too am interested in taking pictures, and consciously paying attention to the world around me each day. Today I took special time out to go and seek out a rare bird sighting in Essex County, and was rewarded with a breathtaking scene of other like minded people taking the time to witness a rare event. It is a Great Grey Owl, usually seen only in northern areas, but has found its way to Kingsville in search of food. Taking the time to appreciate nature and the world around us, helps to remind us of our place in the world, and not take too seriously the little issues which come to trouble us week in and week out. I have never done any journaling, but your advice here is the second time reading the same advice today – so, maybe I will try to take on some journaling this year for the first time. I don’t know if I can commit to every day, but to get started and see how it goes. I look forward to following both your efforts in the year to come, I know both will be great. Happy new year – Helen

  6. Reply
    Jennifer January 2, 2012

    Helen I couldn’t be more gratified to read this. A Great Grey Owl! I so appreciate knowing about this moment, about your ability to take time to really look at nature and the world. You’re so right, it does remind of us our place here, to really “see” and to be reminded of what’s important. I find similar benefit in taking time to look at the (“down and dirty”) city.
    Journalling is such a personal thing, but if you’re inclined, please let me know how it’s going for you. I’m a great cheerleader!
    Happy New Year to you too Helen. Really glad to hear from you.
    ps – do you know about Flickr or PhotoBucket? You can store your photos online, and your family can access them and enjoy them. Lots of members do photo-journalling there too. You may find it a way to complement your journalling endeavour – each can provide motivation for the other.

  7. Reply
    Selma January 3, 2012

    A woman after my own heart. I don’t really want to cultivate the blog pop in either. That is why I don’t participate in writing prompts any more. You get a lot of people through but most of the time I suspect they don’t even read the whole story. I’d rather have 4 genuinely interested commenters than 400. Hear hear.
    I am very excited about your photo blog because I am a big fan of your photography and of your city. I am putting the feed in my reader right now. Can’t wait!

  8. Reply
    richard fulco January 3, 2012

    Looking forward to seeing your photos. If you take any photographs that might be appropriate for Riffraf, http://www.riffraf.typepad.com, I’d consider posting them on the blog. I’m always looking for moving photos that relate to music.
    Best,
    Richie

  9. Reply
    Jennifer January 3, 2012

    We’re after each other’s hearts in many ways, but that’s not news to you Selma. I love to think of bloggers moving about and reflecting our experiences in our cities in our respective corners of the planet, and finding so many similarities so many levels. THAT is the social networking I buy in to!
    Thank you!

  10. Reply
    Jennifer January 3, 2012

    Thank you Richie. I’d be honoured to see any of my photos on your space – I love Riffraf!

  11. Reply
    Carol January 3, 2012

    I love the idea that you are going to take a photo a day! I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to do a drawing a day. Blind contour drawing is aparently a very good way of improving drawing skills…perhaps I should have a go at doing that! Keep you company.
    I do know what you mean about numbers over substance! I much prefer substance 🙂
    C x

  12. Reply
    Jennifer January 3, 2012

    Have a go Carol! I’d LOVE the company!

  13. Reply
    Carol January 3, 2012

    Ok Jennifer…your on (eek!) I shall do a drawing a day.
    So practicalities…When are you starting and where are you posting your pics? Do you think it would be ok to post mine onto my main blog or do you think a separate one would be better? I’m leaning towards separate….
    C x

  14. Reply
    Jennifer January 3, 2012

    Hooray! I’ll be around to cheer you on!
    I started before Christmas – but was really just posting them on my regular blog, to test out the idea. Officially I launched it on New Years Eve.
    There are a number of options – I do mine on a separate blog – http://jensrealia.typepad.com/visual_realia/ – so that I can maintain the focus of each. I upload the pictures to it from Flickr. Lots of people do 365 projects directly from Flickr (or PhotoBucket, or similar), there are groups and people post to them. Visually, I just like the blog platform.

  15. Reply
    Carol January 3, 2012

    I have actually done a drawing a day since New Years Eve 😀 so it will be very easy for me to backdate a few posts so that we are in sync. Like you, I prefer the blog platform so I shall get another one up and running and then I will let you know where you can find it! Ooohh, am all excited now!
    C x

  16. Reply
    Jennifer January 3, 2012

    That’s great! I’m excited too!

  17. Reply
    Carol January 4, 2012

    Just popped over to say that my site is now up and running and has been backdated to New Year’s Eve. You will find it at http://artisautobiographical.blogspot.com/
    C x

  18. Reply
    Jennifer January 4, 2012

    The site looks beautiful! Looking forward to seeing your daily efforts unfold!

  19. Reply
    Eoin January 4, 2012

    Happy New Year Jen…..like your photos; however your creativity is at its best when you create images with words. It is always the most powerful and evocative medium. Pics will attract passers by and the odd ooh and ah. Words to image has more impact on the receiver…for me anyway. If this is a vote stick with your written imagery!

  20. Reply
    Helen January 4, 2012

    Thanks for the encouragement Jen. I am sad to report that my SD card is malfunctioning so I haven’t been able to post the photos of the owl. I may have to get my new card out and try and go find him again, to get some new pictures. If you are interested though, there has been some news coverage and great pictures from some professional birders. Here is one link:
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/thunder-bay/story/2011/12/29/wdr-great-grey-owl-kingsville.html

  21. Reply
    Jennifer January 5, 2012

    Happy New Year Eoin. Your vote is noted, with gratitude. Coming from someone who has knocked me over with beautiful turns of phrase thrown seemingly without effort into conversation – I’m honoured. And never mind – the painting pictures with words (or attempting to) will always be my first priority. The other is intended only to feed it, and serve as a year’s journalling. xo

  22. Reply
    Jennifer January 5, 2012

    Thank you Helen! I have no doubt that many of my former ERCA colleagues are among the enthusiasts! I will enjoy the read.

  23. Reply
    Susan Tiner January 5, 2012

    Hi Jennifer, Happy New Year! I would have visited sooner but have been swamped since the day after Christmas doing Q4 wrap-up for ourselves and clients to estimate taxes.
    I’m glad you’ll be taking more photos, love what captures your attention and eye. I love the way our own new camera invites us to get out and about, to “see” what’s around us, to put some thought into composing a shot. I wish I could find time to post more often!
    Btw, I do see my own blog as a creative outlet, and appreciate other blogs for their creativity as well. But for me, commenting is interactive — I hold out the hope of it leading to friendship. IMO bloggers who never or rarely visit me back are not interested in friendship, which is fine, but then I’ll probably not be interested in commenting on their blog even if I still read. It takes time to comment but it seems worth it as social investment, if that makes sense.

  24. Reply
    Jamie Lees January 6, 2012

    Really looking forward to following along on your visual journey Jennifer… Don’t worry about bad sentences, a picture worth a 1000 words.
    Jamie

  25. Reply
    Jennifer January 8, 2012

    Thank you Jamie, and you’re so right. I’m thinking of the collection of pictures as the documentation of the journey. Glad to have you along.

  26. Reply
    Jennifer January 8, 2012

    Happy New Year to you too Susan! I am always fighting time for posting/writing/visiting/commenting too, as you know. And your comments make complete sense to me! You are of the most genuine bloggers!

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