Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Creative Process (or lack thereof)

Hello All-

As you may know, my head has been in finishing another book in recent weeks. That book, on the NC Rock & Roll scene of the 1960s, is now in layout, and we've put together a website for it at-

Myself and Jake Berger have been working on this book, with various starts and stops, for nearly three years. Last year, when my photo book on NC musicians was picked up by McFarland Publications, I thought that I could work on both at the same time. That thought didn't last long. I can work on many photo projects at the same time, but writing at length takes one's complete attention. I ended devoting much of last summer to writing, re-writing, and editing that book. And even after that book was done, I wasn't ready to start on the NC 60s book.

Over the last year, I have been reminded of how fickle the creative process of writing is. I would love to write lots of wordage at will, and actually live up to some of the lofty deadlines I set up for myself. But it's still somewhat of a mystery to me. I was a writer when I was four years old, and still consider myself one. I think it was partly the frustration of saying something different with my writing that drew me to photography.

The point that I have to come back to is, it comes when it wants to. Some days, you're distracted by the world, and nothing gets written. The next day, 6,000 words get written. This happened a few times with the NC Musicians photo/text book. It's also the editing and honing that wears you down. With a longform book, it all has to hold up as a complete story. Yet emotionally, you're already passed it. You've written it, and sometimes you want to move on.

After a long period of "I'll get to it," the NC 60s book came at amazing speed. One day around Christmas, I sat down with a notebook, and by the following day had written all of my parts for the book. When I came home, I finally had some momentum behind me. I transcribed nine tapes of interviews in three days. Three days after that, I had the first rough draft of the entire book. The last few weeks has been constant editing, adding new interviews, and making the entire thing work as a complete 163-page book. Less than six weeks after writing my introductions, the book is now in layout.

Because of that speed, I've tunneled out the world on this project more than I usually do. Put other important projects off, not noticed when times for shoots got changed (sorry about that one, guys), and let it dominate my thoughts. But, as I said before, you don't question such things. In a world that we increasingly feel like we have less control over, the hardest thing can be to gain acceptance over our own processes, and let things happen when they will happen. But in the long run, it's more about the destination, than the length of the journey. It doesn't matter how long it takes to get there, as long as you get there.
February 21, 2013

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