Contemplating your mortality on a mountainside

Here’s today’s post on Getting Out More. I hiked to one of my favorite places yesterday and lived to tell the tale. Enjoy!


Progress today

I’m going to talk about all the stuff I did today, just for reference purposes. Because damn, some of it has been like pulling teeth. It was a day that things were achieved.

This morning I wrote copy for a photographer. Hopefully it sells. Then I gave the dog a bath. She hasn’t had one in about a year, since we were at the beach in Oregon. Today was the final straw when I accidentally drizzled her in pork chop blood.

Afterwards, I took few photos on Main Street (I guess I was inspired by the content I had to write earlier). It was chilly, but the weather is warming up and we had some beautiful blue skies. So of course I did mostly black and white. I’m trying to get the hang of depth of field and focus and forced perspective. So, pretty much half of photography. I’m hoping it helps with travel writing.

I got an aura in my left eye so I took a nap to see if I could shake a possible migraine. I don’t get them often, but they happen.

After I woke up, I wrote three more posts for another client. They were shorter posts, only about 300 words each, which was like pulling teeth. Sometimes it’s easier to write one post for 1100 words than it is to write smaller posts. The amount of research is usually the same, and for me, the output is just about the same. The difference is the return of investment. Why write three posts for half the pay when it takes as long as writing something longer? The answer is that sometimes you have to write the small posts because there aren’t always bigger jobs.

The bummer is everything is on spec, which means none of them are guaranteed to sell. It’s the risk you take as a freelancer, but it still beats the hell out of sitting in an office all day watching the clock tick away the moments of your life. I don’t miss working for the university at all. The amount of fuckery and ineptitude going on there was staggering. The only good thing about it was the regular paychecks that came in. Granted I could (and did) get 90% of everything I needed to do for the week in the last half hour of work on a Friday afternoon when everyone was gone.

So, I finished the posts. And now I’m mentally shifting gears, drinking some coffee at 9pm, and going into edits for the book. I got chapter one done of the second draft the other day, so it is moving along.

Anyway, here are some photos I took this afternoon. I’m off to do some editing!

Creatively Overwhelmed

Today was a day that I needed to use to get out of town, so my mom and I went to Steamboat for Pho. She had never had it before, and there is just something about it that hits the spot when it comes to…soup. It’s soup, but the broth has so many other levels of aromatics that I get a craving for it once in a while. And I also enjoy exposing people to new things they haven’t tried.

She enjoyed the Pho with rare steak, so yay! Sometimes I’ll try to show my folks something they haven’t tried and they can be a little like Mikey from Life Cereal. He won’t eat it! He hates everything!

I still don’t get that commercial nearly forty years lately. If Mikey hated everything, why did they try giving him the cereal?

Yesterday I gave myself some minor frostbite on my toes while shoveling snow off my sidewalk. Two of them are still purple and sting. At least they sting. That’s a good sign.

Today was a day of some setbacks otherwise, and some victories. After Pho, we checked out a thrift store on the outskirts of town, and I picked up a nearly new tripod for my digital camera. A Giottos Pro aluminum tripod with spirit levels and a ball mount, quick releases, and it goes up to about 70″. $25. Yes. You read that right. I also got a churchkey bottle opener and a DVD of Good Will Hunting for a buck.

When I got home, I set about to write some paid content and was met with a piece of bad news. one of the clients I was going to write for unceremoniously ditched me. They pulled four assignments, two of which I had already written. They blocked me and said, “Didn’t follow our guidelines.” This setback happens sometimes, especially with the more flakey clients who expect $1/word writing but only want to pay ten cents per word. It was a disppointment, and a loss for me of more than I’d like to think about.

A good metric of telling who is going to do this is someone who provides three pages of guidelines and 300 words of keywords for a 1500 word assignment. And when they don’t even look at your submission for a week or two after the deadline. I’d rather just not write for people like that.

So, I got on YouTube and went down the photography rabbit hole to try to teach myself more fundamentals of using my OM-D Olympus camera. I tried out a bunch of shots with the tripod and I think I’m beginning to figure out manual settings for Aperture, Shutter Speed, and things like depth of field and focus. The jargon can get overwhelming. Focus length, this and that in milimeters, all of it. Now I’ve got this tripod thing to figure out, which is actually pretty exciting. I wish I had taken photography, but as a previous artist (pencils, etc.) I understand composition pretty well. What I need to figure out now is color theory and all that technical crap that gives us pictures we like.

A few weeks ago, I applied for an assignement taking pictures of Sandhill Cranes in Nebraska during the upcoming spring migration in North Platte, but they selected someone else today. It was to be a press trip/story/photography opportunity, but that gives me more time to practice and get better at photography for another project. Now that I’m accumulating better equipment, I still feel like an imposter, but less of one.

I’m writing this post tonight and drinking coffee in hopes that I can actually work on the book. A couple setbacks like this can be daunting, plus there is the ongoing struggle I have with the book. I’m getting into the short rows for the end, and I an also seeing how much the book needs in the middle, and how many spots I have either missed or had inadventantly re-written.

Writing a literary type story is difficult for me because I used to write mostly genre fiction like fantasy or SF. It has taken me a long time to change my mindset that unless there is a dragon burning down a village or robots replacing people, a story about someone’s life just isn’t all that interesting. Especially if a lot of it is based on a true story.

Who really cares?

What I know is the story wants to be written, and at this point, no other story is going to get into that feeder trough. I’m hoping to print off a first draft within a few days. Until then, I have plenty of coffee to sustain me and my itch to get the hell out of town has been satiated for a few days at least.

I have a lot of chainsaws in the air at once right now, and I’m hoping that something works out.