Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Inching Along

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Bear Valley business all day yesterday—no layout, no pictures, no editing—just the four hours of driving chews up a big chunk of the day. (Thank goodness we enjoy the drive and the opportunity to celebrate yet again the beauty of the landscape.) The day before, I got a minimum done on SoFoBoMo. That means today is a major catch-up day. Overall, I am inching my way along—putting photos in the layout and doing it, I’m afraid, in the most haphazard, unconventional manner—just winging it at this point, working with Pagemaker and taking advantage of the layout space around my pages and planning to shuffle things about as I go. I can't tell you how radical that is for me. With a project such as this one, my first language is planning. This is a big part of this exercise for me—letting go of old work habits and experimenting with new possibilities.

So far, I am hanging on to my determination to let go and just do it. I have officially given up regaining confidence in what I have to work with so far. The best part is that I can look at pictures I don’t much like anymore and accept them as where I was at the time, and each day I am moving forward. So far, I would have to say that the SoFoBoMo project has been one of my most favorite ever exercises. My purpose was to deal with exactly these issues.
Periodically, I have come perilously close to falling for the temptation to put the idea away and wait until I am better prepared, have better photos, get the layout just right, and on and on. I signed up to see if I could break some barriers and I am shattering them with glee.

In the meantime, the prodigies, Gordon M and Paul L have posted their beautiful books and they are truly inspiring.
I will return to their sites for a boost of energy several times over the next few days, as I huff and puff toward the end—I suppose a little like those marathoners who shuffle across the finish line at the end looking bedraggled with feet dragging and glazed eyes.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

SoFoBoMo Maps

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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.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Messy Business

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Yesterday, I set up a Google Alert to notify me about postings on SoFoBoMo. Those e-mails have offered a welcome relief from what has been a hellish day so far—brought to us by the nut job of a guy who was negotiating to buy The Husband’s business. (Fortunately, there is another deal in the works with what appears to be a sane person.) So, this first guy backed out of the deal, whining about how he didn’t like the terms of the deal he had agreed to, and now he is tossing around warnings about imminent phone calls from his lawyer and screaming about how we tried to “railroad” him and we are "ungrateful". Honest to goodness, it’s black helicopter time for this guy. Still, his phone calls, e-mails, and irrational demands have put a major kink in our day by creating a great deal of work that hadn't been scheduled into the plan.

Other than that, the day has centered around the personal confusion brought on by working on my photo book. Of course, as soon as I started dropping photos and text into my layout, I began to see the flaws in the design. Suddenly, the layout I had been so content with looked far too staid for my content. Furthermore, I had to face the fact that if I stuck with the design I had, either I would have to omit a number of photos that I really want in this very personal book, or I would have to spend a fortune printing the book. Decision time.

After going back and forth on the layout until I was dizzy, I found a fresh approach. The new layout is more complex than the original one—that means more layout work, more processing, and many more decisions per page, not to mention more photographs to suit it. How could that be?! Still it seems to the right direction. At least, for now.

As if that weren’t enough, all the photos have, overnight, turned to dreck. I can’t remember why I ever wanted to put any of them in a book. Okay, that’s too crazy even for me. I must have seen something that appealed to me.

For over two weeks, I was having way too much fun to give the deadline a thought. As of today, I am officially starting to get nervous. How did it get to be the 21st?