March was a great month.
It included the trip to Seville, continuing to learn Tango ( still just awful but having fun and maybe, maybe getting just a bit better?? ) as well as finishing the second 10 week creative writing course. My first novel got over the 15,000 word count – which has been great fun.
I also attended a Street Photography workshop which although just half a day was great fun.
Currently have the next trip booked for June, destination Lisbon – but this is notoriously flexible – both in terms of timeframe and where I end up going!!
My monthly creativity review for January 2013.
With no trip abroad scheduled until March photography was a continuing learning curve, with an interesting trip to capture skateboarders in London and more general experience around Sussex.
So here are 10 of my favourite images from this month :
Higher resolution access on Flickr is here.
On the writing side I started my second 10 week course with Gary Mepsted and am really happy with the amount I am learning, especially on a way of planning my writing that works for me and has really increased my productivity.
The task this course is to write a 5,000 word short story, first person, on the theme of unrequited love. I have decided to write about personal feelings interfering in the case of a mentally troubled woman. The introduction is posted at “Third Angel“.
Looking ahead for February the writing of the short story will be my focus, trying to get well towards completing my first full piece of creative writing. I am also booked on a Lightroom workshop which I am really looking forward to.
And good to see that the Three Jolly Butchers Writing group is continuing!
My monthly creativity review for December 2012.
This was a great month as by the end I did get past first base with my new Nikon D5100 – just learning how I want to shoot in terms of settings. Real basics – but I am a newbie and it did take me a while to get there – largely because I decided to just go out and shoot before studying too much. So my current thoughts are that I will always set ISO myself, shoot on aperture priority as a default, set my own white balance and in general start most session on point focus. I really spent a long time fighting the camera in various auto settings – really informative but as it turns out not for me.
The only canned settings I am interested in at the moment is low key – I think this is well worth experimenting with. I would like to do a series based on this mode and have this planned for January.
I spent time in Greece – visiting Thessaloniki – this was my first trip with my camera and the start of many ideas to explore the world and my own thoughts about life.
On the writing side I completed my first creative writing course, a 10 week course with Gary Mapsted in the Evolution center Brighton. What an enjoyable time – I have already signed up for the next one. This site is now well under way and I am concentrating my writing on regular posts here on a variety of subjects. These have been a combination of factual posts on places I have visited and creative writing based on selected images I have taken.
So in general a start has been made and I look forward to a new year in so many ways!
So here are my favourite images from this month :
Higher resolution access on Flickr is here.
They are selected just based on a quick informal scan of the month. So much to learn!!
In the Arts
Another great evening last week discussing creative writing with Gary Mepsted. One of the main subjects that comes up consistently is that of leaving space for the reader.
This is extremely important in creative writing – if we provide all the answers and explanations the reader will become bored. Give them the space to work things out for themselves, and leave them with a sense of satisfaction – ideally the emotion would be ‘I didn’t expect that – but yes, I understand”. People are also absolutely prepared to have many minor things left unresolved, a beginner writer like myself is too often tempted to make everything too neat.
In photography I am also learning that without a story that allows the viewer to participate the photo is a meaningless snap. A friend often describes this as ‘context’ – she will ignore a pretty scene of a boat drifting by, because there is no story. She will be facing the other way – finding images and stories amongst the graffiti on the wall.
This is true in business and also in my life.
In business we have been designing and implementing a comprehensive dashboard this month. I have all of the financial information nailed, its just a question of presentation. But one of the metrics needs to be a measure of satisfaction and engagement of our staff. I passed around a simple graph that a friend who runs a search company had found very useful – a simple graph that asks you to plot where you are on two axes – one is how clear your role / tasks are – and the other is how much freedom you have within that role.
The idea of course is that without the freedom you simply won’t be engaged – people need space to contribute – they want to chose the best way to get things done, participate fully in the way they accomplish the tasks the company needs them to complete. They need space to express themselves.
In life I am learning now to make sure that I respect peoples space – i think I have always had a temptation to try to control too much. A friend I met recently is just a brilliant example of this – she wants to live life to the full – but expects to control nothing, to enjoy the weirdness and excitement with what happens if you pursue your passions and learn from those you meet on the way.
We were discussing the importance of the ‘big idea’ as part of our creative writing course with Gary yesterday.
Once again I thought this was a great concept for exploring the implications between my separate areas of interest – what part does a ‘Big Idea’ really play across my major interests of travel, writing, photography and running a business?
Today I would like to explore the “Big Idea” both in writing and in running a business.
Gary – the creative writing teacher – explained that many new writers are discouraged from writing anything of significance because they feel that they do not have that ‘Big Idea ‘. They are not sure why anyone would read their work as they do not have a neat, original significant message that they can capture and present through plot. They are conscious that they lack any well packaged idea that will fundamentally change or illuminate the way their readers feel about life, and for this reason they are reluctant to write anything at all.
However as Gary pointed out a good story teller can put two interesting characters in a room and create a work that runs across the spectrum of human experience – great ideas are not a significant part of the output of professional writers.
Running a Business
I see exactly the same concept in the whole field of starting and running SME businesses.
People are obsessed with a ‘great business idea’ when in fact the success of an enterprise is all about the people and execution. We are familiar with exceptional role models, and indeed we enjoy reading about their lives. But the reality is for almost all people starting and growing a business is that there is simply no original big idea they can effectively exploit with their limited working capital. They should focus instead on the quality of the team and the processes and execution required to deliver the returns anticipated.
What a shame that in both of these endeavors – writing and entrepreneurship – the hunt for a ‘big idea’ can be so counter productive, and so often result in a paralysis that limits our ability to express ourselves and learn these crafts through practice and feedback. Both of these crafts are almost impossibly difficult to do well – but if you don’t start you will never learn.
The business of the novelist is not to chronicle great events but to make small ones interesting – Schopenhauer
I am really enjoying the chance to touch base with the more creative side of myself, something that during the last 10 years I had really let slip.
Not just going to shows, but participating and pushing myself in areas which I find difficult and challenging. I am loving a creative writing class in Brighton, and have also started photography again. With all this has come new friends, and I am really enjoying being around people who love the night and can lose themselves in creative projects.
I took this photo last night and I think it captures something of that kind of atmosphere – late night working, deadlines and passion for what you do that breaks down barriers and conventions – which is so attractive and exciting to me.