Is It A Blur or Visionary?

Struggling with my creative self...

Pushing the envelope.

Some of my best writing and photography is not by design but by mistake, a fuzzy outline, a blur. They just happen. I will have an idea of what I want to write but end up writing something vaguely similar to what I started out with in the original thought. My struggle is with what I think is mediocre that I can easily produce and still elicit a good response. What I mean by mediocre is work that although it might be very good it is not unique or stands out from similar writing or photographs. How many photographs of a desert sunset can there be before they all become the same? I do my backyard landscape well now but how to do it originally or differently is what I struggle with.

I don't think I'm unique in that struggle but I do think it can be a struggle to be unique in this ubiquitous age of the internet. Some people have hobbies or play sports and that is their outlet to stand out or be a part of the crowd. For those of us who are creative that is our outlet regardless of our talent or how we express ourselves. We may never be a Rembrandt or Mozart but the challenge is to produce the best work we can and keep raising the bar.

Lately I've been experimenting with my Droid X taking pictures as they happen or something strikes me. Since I like to do as much as possible "in the camera" with relatively minimal editing as an enhancement I try to do different things while taking the shot. Recently it's been in motion or playing with settings. I still take the best possible landscape and street photography I can but I regard a lot of it right now as stock photography. The idea is that in the future I'll look at them again with a renewed eye and realize they still have value. Right now I'm a malcontent, a dissident against my own average, not willing to settle for mainstream, forcing myself to edit a photo blunder to turn the picture into a different wonder. If I were a painter I'd say that it is a fight against painting-by-numbers and struggling with an explosion of colors while taming them at the same time. Also by contrast toying with lack of color in black and white.

It seems I turned a corner with writing this year although I'm not where I would like to be, I don't feel as if I'm cranking out the same political and economics commentary I once did. Previously it was a struggle to get out of the same old habits writing history. Really that is the contest with all my creative enterprises, writing, photography, video and editing all of them. Building upon what I've already done while still bursting out at another level with something rejuvenating and vibrant. Currently it is photography. When I become bored with my own work then I know it is time to experiment and make mistakes or redirecting what I started to a different channel. In trial and error suddenly there comes a surprise, something different, a breakout moment that begs to be continued.


  1. mmm I tend to always be pushing myself. LoL I tend to jump in with both feet and fight my way through figuring things out on my own without 'proper' instruction. And along the way I've discovered that I often figure out simpler easier ways of doing things than what the 'experts' teach. Or that I've invented whole new ways of doing things that they never heard of.

  2. You push yourself because you have good old fashioned values of being achievement oriented and thinking ahead. Why those became unpopular concepts I have no idea.

    It really depends on what it is I'm trying to learn if I get "proper instruction" or not. Most of the time I toss the manual and dig in. Just recently I was confronted with a situation where I need to relearn Excel speadsheets. I found myself asking for help and step by step instructions. Either way I always figure the best way for me and it sounds like that is what you do by inventing new things.

  3. I agree with and understand everything you say here, JR...I planned on commenting on this last night, then figured I'd make a blog post about my thoughts, then ended up making one which managed to miss giving your writing the credit it deserved for inspiring it (thank you, sir!) and (I think) make the points I would have made in my response in better ways than I would have if I'd consciously stuck to the script in my head.

    I know exactly what you mean about not knowing where all these cool things really come from. It seems like some combination of observance and talent, but I think that gives us creative types way too much credit for our input into things. I'm just speaking for myself and might have it all wrong, but when I take a picture I like it very rarely turns out to be the picture I like later...and when I DO end up thinking it's cool, it always feels like a gift, and sort of like it was taken by someone else. And that holds true with writing, or songs, or even making up some silly thing to say to get a laugh. In the end, it always feels like my part in the deal is just allowing the thing to happen and get it out there. It's sort of mystical and gives me a little chill even as I type that, but I think it's true. With the "good" stuff, I mostly just feel fortunate. It certainly never feels like work.

    I love your thoughts on "mediocrity", mostly your admittance that you keep the "bad" stuff because it might seem good later. I do the same thing, and it happens sometimes. It will probably keep happening. Then again, it might not. Who knows?

    Who knows?

    I think the best thing we (or any creative person) can do is just keep trying. Some really neat stuff seems to show up just because we bothered to let it speak through our work. Never mind that our "work" is crawling around deserts and bogs taking pictures of whatever we see there. It only seems accidental when good stuff shows up; it was knocking on the door. Cool people keep answering the door, even if they don't know why.

    Thanks again for this inspiring and (seriously) comforting post, JR.

  4. Mike it's good to know when you inspire other people because we so often go along thinking we're anonymous in our creative work. In turn I think of something you've written, a video blog or a photograph you've posted that gave me an idea. Something that hinges on what you started.

    I liked your blog post. Also you wrote a really good line with a strong thought behind it here "Cool people keep answering the door, even if they don't know why."

    Thanks for commenting and keep trying. I'll bet in 10 years we'll look back and have a conversation about how glad we did.