Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SoFoBoMo Maps

(Click on the thumbnail to view larger image)

The more satisfaction (along with frustration and doubt) I face in the pursuit of this SoFoBoMo brass ring the more grateful I am for doing this as part of a group. I have long been fascinated by the component of the human psyche that frequently convinces each of us that whatever we are going through no one else is suffering it, or anything like it. Indeed, at our lowest and least enlightened moments (especially when we are younger) we tend to think that no one—ever in the history of mankind—has gone through whatever trial it is we are asked to endure. We are social animals and most of us take comfort in knowing that we aren’t alone in a trial.

Hey, that certainly describes my experience in the pursuit of my photo book. But now, when I lose my way, I can, with a couple of clicks of the mouse, read someone else’s report of a struggle eerily similar to my own. Invariably, I find an answer to a perplexing question, a question I should be asking myself, inspiration to stay with it, or just the comfort of knowing someone else is going through this, too. At any rate, I don’t so much waste valuable time fretting and flailing about. After all, to the right and the left of me, there are others whacking away at the brush having also lost their way.

All this got me thinking some wicked thoughts. For a few seconds one morning, I thought wouldn’t it be great if Paul Butzi declared a SoFoBoMo season at least four times a year? That would mean that pretty much whenever you found yourself with a block of time you could devote to this madness, you would find a community of photographers going through the process along with you. The more I thought about that the more I doubted its efficacy. Compressing the activity into a shorter period and creating a larger group of participants almost certainly results in greater diversity of personalities and levels of expertise, thus more current material available on the subject at a given point. More seasons would likely dilute the impact of the challenge.

Perhaps each time I tackle this photo book challenge, I will have to return to the blogs from the most recent SoFoBoMo season and re-read the wealth of material. I think re-visiting all the posts put up so far would make a great read. The pipes that Gordon and Paul L have set up make a big difference now. (I am enjoying my Google Alert set-up. This offers another easy way of keeping up. I am not certain at this point which I prefer.) Still, when the information is no longer current, I don’t want to lose easy access to it. It seems that everyone is tagging all their related posts to facilitate searches. I hope so. Later, those of us in need of inspiration can easily track down all the information. I find myself wishing that one of the web-savvy, software geniuses would just put together some terrific online encyclopedia that would gather up all this wealth of material. (Hey, I can dream, can’t I?) In the meantime, I acted on impulse a couple of days ago and ordered a book by Stephen Johnson called, Making a Digital Book. I don’t expect it to be nearly as useful as the posts by the SoFoBoMo-ers.


  1. Anita, I find that I'm not so much looking for the brass ring because, every once in a while, I learn something and take heed of it. :-) What I've learned, over and over and over again, is the destination is often a big let down. Once you have the ring ... then what? Do you pursue another ring?

    So, here I am immersed in this wonderful journey, confused at times, disappointed at others, yet ecstatic at others. It's the thrill of the hunt. :-)

    One thing that this challenge has done for me is to remind me of that. I know that when I get to the end, there will be a short victory dance and then ... what's next. I see, from your post, that you are already thinking the same thing. ;-)

    I need to keep myself reigned in a bit so that I don't lose focus of this journey by focusing on the next.

    I already think that when I go to Utah, I'll compile a book when I get back, but I'm trying not to think about that just now.

  2. I think a big part of why it is so great is we are all stuck on roughly the same issues at the same time, so feed off each other a bit.

    Reading the archives will be useful too, but maybe not so immediate or connected. I read someone's post now and it sparks me to write something on a similar topic that they then might read and respond to and so on.

    I wonder how it'll be for those who start on May 1st.

    I'm trying to decide if I can face another round. This first book has taken a surprising amount of time and energy.

  3. Paul, I suppose my answer to the ring question is yes—another ring, than another, and another. The let-down is inevitable, isn't it? It's not nearly as much fun as the chase, or journey (which reminds me to be remain calm and allow time for reflection), but a vital component, I think, of the experience.

    Your determination to stay focused on this book and not be distracted by enthusiasm for the next one is a lesson I needed a reminder on. That is yet another of my weak spots.

  4. Gordon, I think you hit the nail on the head in your comments on the value of immediacy. Later, the comments will be instructive. But, knowing that a colleague has gone through the experience sometime in the past doesn't have the same impact as knowing that others are engaged in precisely the same struggle at the same moment in time.

    I, too, have wondered about those who begin on May 1. My original plan had been to start then, and I am delighted that that plan didn't pan out for me. The energy right now is deliciously intense, and I am grateful to be a benefiary.

  5. Anita, I'd have to agree with you and Gordon. I think that diving in right away was fantastic and the fact that we are all stuck at the same point at the same time engenders a sort of camaraderie. Those who pass this way after us, well, they will encounter slightly different things, but it's more of a been there, done that for us.

    Gordon, I don't think that I'd have the energy or drive to do another book right after this one, especially not in 30 days! :-)

  6. Paul, of course, I want to jump right into the next book while all this is fresh in my mind and the buzz is so strong. On the one hand, I think it is the perfect time to start another one, but I would likely run out of gas part way through—this is, indeed, a demanding exercise. Besides, I will probably be smack in the thick of moving next month—at least that's the latest bulletin. Who knows anymore?


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