Thursday, 17 September 2015

The Road Not Taken

Did you ever notice. . ?  The line everyone loves to quote from that poem is "I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."  Yet the title of the poem is The Road Not Traveled.  If the difference is a good one, why does the title dwell on what was and is now lost?

What if a decision I make today significantly steers the course of my life?  We only get this one lifetime, and it's alarmingly short.  If I choose one thing, does that mean I sacrifice another?

I've been thinking a lot about my photography.  It brings me a lot of joy, and a lot of discomfort.  I'm a perfectionist of the worst sort, and feeling bad about my photographs can put a gloom over the day; feeling good about them can put a skip in my step.  It's just the way with art, isn't it?  The artistic drive, under which pressure the great works of mankind are forged.

I really want to gain more technical knowledge in photography, and it is an expensive hobby.  As a career, it hardly pays for itself.  With digital photography making it more available to the masses, the market is over-saturated (though, I am happy to report, wildly supportive of each other).  So I can't exactly rationalize further expenses and forays into the field for the sake of wealth.  It will have to be something I do because I am passionate about it and find it worthy of sacrifice.

Then I wonder if one of the things I will be choosing to sacrifice will be writing.

I haven't written in over year, nor published in as long.  Some days, I feel like being a mother to young children for the time being fills that creative void in my life.  Other days, I feel it like a stopped faucet or a clogged drain, there's this pressure that isn't being relieved, and I wonder if I would have less anxiety and tendency toward depression if I were writing more, or writing at all.

I've talked with John on a couple of occasions about doing an online degree in photography and design.  I actually (very briefly) considered a photography major in college, at the (surprising!) suggestion of my photography professor, but dismissed it in the end because--get this!--I thought it wouldn't pan out as a career, so I stayed with this obscure English Writing degree instead!  At the time, it would have been a subject for a degree I would be getting anyway.  Now it is just a hunger, for a deepening knowledge in a craft that is part of my everyday life and which I may choose to cultivate.

But cultivate at what expense?  I've gone on before about how I'm a Jill of all trades and mistress of none.  It's something I'm not at peace with.  I want to excel, and I want to do everything at the same time.  Above and beyond even that, I want to be a storyteller with everything in me.  It's just that right now, I don't have the solitude, the time, or the space to write as I need or should.  Photography is a little more instant-gratification, a little more child-friendly and concrete and attainable.

What do you think?  If I chose to steer my life toward an expertise in photography, do I risk loosing that time I should be using to nurture my writing craft?  What would you choose?  Have you ever faced a decision like this?  Is this a first-world problem or what?


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  1. <3 You'll alway be a writer, Christie. Even if you step back from it for years and might not be the time for it, but when it comes, it'll be richer for the living that filled up this time. And photography is a sort of way of writing in images least, your photos always seem to be that way. Don't worry, these shifts of focus and pauses don't destroy anything, everything is distilling down within you.

    “In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come." ~ Rilke

  2. "I'm a Jill of all trades and mistress of none. It's something I'm not at peace with. I want to excel, and I want to do everything at the same time."

    Boy, are we a lot alike sometimes. :)

    I have way more interests than I will ever be able to cultivate, and the top two--writing and music--fight with each other for my free time. Again and again in my life, I've faced the idea of sacrificing one for the sake of the other. Again and again, I can't do it, not entirely. Would I have more time to write if I gave up piano lessons, if I gave up choir? Absolutely. Would it be smart to give up choir, since my voice is barely usable, and piano, since I'll never be a concert pianist? Maybe. And maybe Jenna just doesn't make hard decisions. But I keep on with piano and choir, sometimes just for commitment's sake, because I need a little music in my life.

    As for writing, it is--when it really matters--my top passion. But writing what? Writing the books I've burnt out on, and yet love? Writing other books that I don't have clear ideas for yet? Writing poems, of which I have approximately three that are good, and are at various levels of unshareable due to subject matter? Writing blog posts? Writing in my journal? Writing rambly messages to you and Masha with my inner proofreader turned off?

    I don't know. I think I've always wanted too much to do something great with my writing, but what really matters to me is, as Maya Angelou put it, being a rainbow in somebody else's cloud. Encouraging people. Telling my story, telling other people's stories, so that none of us feel quite so alone. I'm too unsettled and exhausted right now to really do much, but someday ... I dream of someday, and I get words out when I can, in the ways I can.

    As for you, if that's all you do with writing while you set noveling and serious publishing dreams aside for the time being in order to focus on photography--just getting words out when you can, in the ways you can--I have to say, I think that's worthwhile. And maybe it'll keep your chops up for some unknown future time when the fire hits and the only thing you CAN do is write.

    Hope that's encouraging, anyway ... <3


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