Sunday, August 26, 2012
Wild Life Lessons
By the end of July, our little turf war had ended in a draw with a bushel of twigs and pine straw strewn about the porch and no nest upon the gable. Poor little finches. At least they have a feeder full of seed to share. Of course the hummingbirds are relieved to have the peace and quiet now. I have spent the last several weeks photographing (or trying to) those speedy little birds, a feat which has echoed my writing process in a couple of key ways.
Wildlife photography lets my brain go a little sideways so that I can think about my writing when I'm not really thinking about my writing. Does that make sense? I've sat out in the 102º heat or on the porch or ankle deep in pine needles and sand for hours at a time, hoping for that magical shot of some natural beauty. Laser-focused on that shot, hungry for something stunning, and miserable at the same time. It's a lot like writing. (Yes, I hope you laughed at that). So the first writing lesson I've learned from photography is you have to be willing to be uncomfortable. I've been on the verge of heat stroke, my feet throbbing and my mouth dry, but I would not give up until I captured something, even a tiny, imperfect scrap of something to work with.
Add a new camera, and I have a lot more to learn about settings and light and distance. I'm still a green horn and new equipment is just another hill to conquer (and celebrate). So the second thing I have learned about writing through my foray into photography is that you have to be willing to fail...over and over again. You have to be able to stare at the failure and find something valid in it. Experiment, let the moment take you, but always be willing to accept failure when it presents itself and learn from it. Figure out what didn't work and why and explore new options. I got a good dose of that with my latest WIP...just ask my agent!
The bottom line is, if something moves you, if you really want it badly enough, it will always draw you back. You never know what you are willing to slog through or cope with until you give in to that creative pull. So let yourself get lost in it. Embrace the pain, physical and mental, and give those natural wonders a chance to show you what you can do. You just might surprise yourself.