Friday, February 20, 2009

SoFoBoMo is in the Air

(Click on the thumbnail to view the bigger, better version)

Even before Paul Butzi posted the official website for SoFoBoMo and revealed the specifics about this year’s event, I had been thinking about the hurdles that SoFoBoMo brings up for me. Now, more and more bloggers are talking about the project and a couple of days ago, Gordon McGregor posed an intriguing question about some people’s resistance. Gordon asked, “What’s going on here?” As one of the people who agonizes over this challenge, I feel qualified to ramble on in response to Gordon’s query.

All right, how can this prospect of producing 35 pictures in 30 days and laying them out in PDF form be so challenging? There is no justification for claiming that producing the requisite 35 photos is an overwhelming task—especially in the digital age. I have single days during which I take hundreds of photos. What could possibly be so daunting about coming up with 35 photos in 30 days? Although, producing a decent-looking PDF could pose—did for me—a few roadblocks, anyone who has access to the web can find pages of information that will unravel the basic mysteries of the PDF. Producing the text to go along with the photos certainly cannot be the major barrier. Anyone who is blogging must have overcome most of their fear of putting their thoughts into words that they are willing to publish.

No, the rules and requirements are definitely not the problem. As challenges go, this one is not exactly earthshaking. Then, why in heck does this year’s project create the same anxiety in me that I experienced in 2008? After all, I got through it last year and lived to tell the tale. The requirements for this year are no more stringent than last year’s. There is no doubt that in 30 days I can take 35 photos, write a few words (keep in mind that there is no rule stipulating a minimum number of words in the accompanying text), and that I can produce some kind of PDF. Furthermore, no prizes are awarded and there is no official rating system that could possibly embarrass or disappoint me.

Well, that means that the fear has nothing to do with doubts about whether or not I can meet the requirements of the project and there is no fear of coming in last in some sort of race. The fear is in making choices and facing the completion. The scary part is taking responsibility for what to photograph and editing out the weakest shots. Perhaps even more intimidating is looking at the completed PDF and having to claim it as mine. Looking at the finished work and seeing reflected in it all the technical knowledge that I have not yet assimilated, facing how little I saw, how limited my vision is—that’s the tough stuff.

I’m not exploring my anxieties because I hope the examination will make the fears disappear, but because I hope that facing these issues will help me get through it. Regardless of what I uncover here, I will be probing these questions and agonizing over all this for the next few months. I’m not proud of that—just honest enough to admit that it’s my nature and I am not apt to have a miraculous personality-healing in the first half of 2009.

The truth is simple. If I were to avoid endeavors like this one, I could live comfortably in “some day”. I could rely on “if I had the time” or “I could do that if I really wanted to badly enough”. Everything worth doing incurs risk. The risk in SoFoBoMo is a lot like standing in bright, harsh light and looking square in the mirror. The risk is in completing the project and saying, “This is what I am capable of at this time. This is what I chose to represent my view of my world. I had a month to produce this, and here is what I was able to do. This is what I have to say.” Furthermore, the stakes are higher this year. What did I learn during SoFoBoMo 2008? What have I learned since last year? Have I grown in the past twelve months? There are no outside judges measuring and comparing in this case. The tough judge is that person I see in the mirror.

Okay, I’m scaring myself. I had better go grab my camera and head out for some therapy. After all, I have already signed up to participate in 2009. I’m in again. Angst, or no.


  1. Anita: A famous quote from a cartoon, Pogo: We have met the enemy, and he is us

    I know which post you are talking about for I read not only the post but the book as well. I will post about that today.

    Your post hit home! Especially the part about standing in the bright, harsh light and looking square in the mirror. True. Eloquently stated.

    I would, however, very much disagree with one part of your post, when you said: "The truth is simple. If I were to avoid endeavors like this one, I could live comfortably in 'some day' ...". Not! The simple fact that you did, and will once again, participate, indicates that this is not the case. Even given the angst, fear, and the self-doubt, of which we all have in great measure, you can face your fears. Courage is not the absence of fear, but the overcoming of it to do what you feel you must, in spite of that fear. You did it and will do it again, regardless.

    A fantastic post. I will certainly reference it in my post as you have covered a lot of ground that I sought to cover.

  2. Paul - I love your post on these questions. I appreciate the push that you provided. This Resistance will not be eliminated in one brave moment—I don't expect that—but I am determined to keep fighting it.

  3. Anita, unfortunately, I do not think that the Resistance will EVER be defeated. It is a resilient and defiant foe. I think, though, that all we can do is to keep fighting it every step of the way, even when we are so tired that we think that we cannot even go one more step. We have to take that step. I'm very much saying this to myself. :-) I resist many things so much!

  4. Oh, BTW, I did some more practice this morning and spent a lovely hour or so following Hobbs around with my umbrella and flash. It was quite fun, for me anyway. I might have even gotten a few pictures that I like, but not many ... thus is the 'danger' of doing the work, you might not always get rewarded. :-)

  5. Paul - You have hit on two of the biggest roadblocks when it comes to maintaining the struggle against the big R. It's the fact that the "battle" will never be won and that regardless of how valiantly we fight on, some days we will get no encouragement.

    I have to constantly remind myself of these two critical points. Here, again, is the beauty of the bloggers' community: if I try to deny these troublesome "rules of engagement", someone will remind me how this business of creating works. Thank you for the reminders. I appreciate them.

  6. Your photograph of sky, mountains and cattle should be framed. Wowza!

  7. Joyce - Thanks a million for dropping by. I just might take your advice.

  8. I found out about sofobomo recently and browsed through the last year contributions and I must say I simply loved your book. Absolutely lovely, I could really feel what it must have felt, leaving that wonderful garden... Very, very inspiring!

  9. Its alive again! SoFoBoMo 2012

    1. Thanks, Anil, for this information. I have completely out of the loop for weeks now. I had not heard anything else about this. It is great to hear from you.


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