Monday, January 20, 2014

New Blog Title

I've today changed the name of this blog to better reflect my current interests.  As I mentioned in my last post, I've recently finished the photography project on which I'd been engaged for many years.  Though I still have a deep interest in the medium and intend to keep working at it, it may be some time before I wholly commit to a new project that will occupy me as fully as the last.  While it's difficult to predict what the future holds, it may be that I will not again find inspiration until I've finally left New York and settled somewhere new.  For example, I could easily picture myself living in some foreign land and trying to capture its essence on black & white film.  I simply don't know.

In the meantime, I will continue to post articles about photography that I find of value.  Since my interests lie primarily with analog photography, however, these posts may be few and far between.  Hopefully, there will someday be a resurgence of interest in traditional processes that will provide me with new material on which to report.

On the other hand, I do intend to publish my first novel online in the fall of this year.  As the date of publication approaches, I am sure I will make new discoveries regarding the publication and marketing of ebooks that will be of general interest.  I will write about these developments as fully as possible.

I realize many readers who checked this blog primarily for information on photography gear and techniques will lose interest as its focus shifts to the writing and publishing.  I apologize for that in advance, but there's really nothing that can be done.  Like everyone else, I'm in a continual process of transition and my writing can only mirror the changes I experience.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

On Completing a Novel

To paraphrase a quote I once heard attributed to Sigmund Freud, "The only thing that truly gives us happiness is the realization of a childhood fantasy."

For as long as I can remember, my dream was always to write a novel.  When I was an English lit major in college, I read the fiction of Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Faulkner and aspired to one day place my own work beside theirs.  I felt that I had within myself the talent to create a novel that would be both readable and of true literary merit.

For years after graduation, I experienced what had to be the worst case of writer's block on record.   Whenever I tried to put a story on paper, I was stymied.  Everything I typed seemed self-conscious and derivative.  If I could not myself believe in the story I was writing - it always seemed false and contrived - how could I expect any reader to feel otherwise?  I know now that I'm not the only writer to have been filled with crippling self-doubt.  In her biography of Dashiell Hammett, Diane Johnson wrote:
"But ideas and words fled from his mind as soon as he sat down at the typewriter and were replaced by blank despair, and if he managed a paragraph or line, he suffered an almost compulsive destructive need to minimize, reduce, destroy it."
Eventually, seeking an outlet for my creativity, I turned to photography.  For years, I worked to master the intricacies of lighting and black & white printing in the darkroom.  I made use of whatever talent innate talent I possessed to achieve some degree of competence in creating fine arts imagery.  But I never gave up my dream of becoming a writer.

In May 2012, realizing that at my age it was now or never, I put aside all other projects and determined to persevere until I had at last succeeded in writing my novel.  Although it wasn't easy, I kept at it until I finally completed The City of Death.  The work went more smoothly than I had anticipated.  I finished a first draft a year later in May 2013 and then put it aside for the summer so that - lacking an editor - I could look at it with fresh eyes in September when beginning the second draft.  I finally completed work on that last week.  Whatever else may happen in the future, I have at least achieved a great sense of satisfaction in reaching a goal whose attainment for so long eluded me.

It's hard for me to be objective about the quality of my writing.  In this regard, I can only quote W. Somerset Maugham:
"No one writes as well as he would like to; he only writes as well as he can."
Although for various reasons I do not intend to put my novel on Amazon until November, I will be detailing my preparations in future blog posts.  Hopefully, some of the information I provide will be helpful to other novice authors attempting to publish and publicize a first novel.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Looking Forward to 2014

When I first began this blog in 2013 I had been anticipating that I would be posting a great deal about my photographic endeavors.  I began working as a photographer over 35 years ago and it's always been a great source of inspiration for me.  Though it never made me rich, it did provide me with a sense of purpose as well as artistic satisfaction.

In the past six months, however, I've found myself rethinking my interest in photography.  The aspect I always enjoyed most, i.e., working in the darkroom, has become increasingly more difficult as traditional film products and papers have been relentlessly discontinued.  Even working in digital has become problematic now that Adobe has put Photoshop on a subscription basis.  Beyond that, I've come to question the role of the photographer in a high tech world where just about everyone floods the internet on a daily basis with smartphone photos.

At the same time, I have finally found enough leisure in my own life to pursue my writing career.  I had gotten my degree in English lit and had always dreamed of writing a novel.  I did in fact finish my first novel - a noir murder mystery - at the end of last year and intend to publish it as an ebook in late 2014.  I already have an idea for my second novel and will soon begin writing it.

As far as this blog is concerned, there will be period over the next few months when I do not post very often while seeking to establish my new identity as a writer.  This lapse will be exacerbated by the fact that there is not very much interesting to say about the act of writing. It involves hours sitting in front of my computer as I type out words I hope will eventually form a coherent story.

I will post from time to time as I come across items relating to photography and self-publishing that I consider noteworthy.  How often these articles will appear I cannot now say, but my posts should become more frequent toward the end of the year as I approach the publication of my first novel.  Eventually, I will probably change the title of the blog itself to reflect the change in my interests.  I apologize to my readers in advance for however erratic and frustrating this approach may appear.