Today, I got up at 4 am and drove myself and my brother down to Colorado Springs, in order to be at Garden of the Gods Park before sunrise. Perhaps not as intrepid an expedition as might be hoped, we wandered along concrete trails. We did get some good photos, but I have to admit I’m not thrilled.

Now, nobody should try to judge his or her own art. That is, you know when you really suck, and you know when you’re really good. But you’re never sure exactly where, along the middle part of the spectrum, you fall. So I don’t know if I’m a mediocre-to-bad photographer, or a reasonably okay one, or what. But I find that looking at my own work makes me think it’s boring.

I’m not SAYING anything here, I keep thinking. Yes, this is a pretty thing I’ve taken a picture of. But it doesn’t have anything to express except the concept “Look, a pretty rock formation.” But I am not sure how to remedy this. Some few of my urban pictures were kind of good, I thought.

It’s probably two things. One, I’m just starting, really. Two, it’s not my overwhelmingly primary medium.

But I did have one small insight, which was in answer to the question why I take up so many ‘side’ or ‘auxiliary’ crafts. Sewing, cooking, photography, kaleidoscope making, jewelry, woodcraft… it’s a long list. And I’m not particularly good at any of them. I’m a writer. And I decided today that what I’m doing is engaging in an expensive form of research. What does it really feel like to do these things? My characters might do them one day.

By the way, check out Amused Authors for the other half of this story. Also, later today, the pictures will be up on my deviant account.

The value is this: it’s an insight you can’t get from reading a how-to book. Learning something in your hands and your eyes is different from reading about it or seeing pictures or even videos of someone doing the craft. You have to do it yourself to learn certain things about it.

Not that I suggest mystery writers go out and kill someone.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. leafless
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 11:59:52

    “So I don’t know if I’m a mediocre-to-bad photographer, or a reasonably okay one, or what. But I find that looking at my own work makes me think it’s boring.”

    We tend to be really tough critics of our own work. Most artists and writers are perfectionists. 🙂

  2. asherose
    Oct 31, 2008 @ 12:10:27

    This is true. I try to give myself a break on other arts. It’s only on the writing that I really concentrate my perfectionism. But you also have to learn when to call it done and move on… otherwise you’ll be revising the same manuscript for the rest of your life. I know people who do this. It’s not pretty. 🙂


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