Writing Or The Thought Of Writing, Not Photography, Leads To Photography

Believe it or not, long before my passion for photography was born I was an aspiring writer.  After my freshman year at the University of Washington where I was on the crew team I decided I wanted something a little different.  I had heard about this writing program at the University Of Montana in Missoula and off I went where I eventually graduated. During and immediately after school, I had a keen interest in fiction and fly fishing with one caveat:

  1. I would not write or read about fly fishing.  That was not so much a rule I set for myself but rather some sort of unconscious steering away from reading or trying to write about what I was at the time completely immersed in; fly fishing.    

It was at Missoula's Grizzly Hackle, where my fly fishing work started.  I am no longer in Missoula and have stopped writing.  Completely stopped.  I don't even lie to myself that some sort of long-term brain freeze or perennial writer's block will cease and out will pour, with ease and grace, onto paper a fabulous story...  I used to believe that by virtue of being awake and conscious that something magical in me just might find, if I was aware of it and noticed these full eloquent pages floating around in my head, a written gem.  I was foolish.   I was not practicing the writing equivalent of what the photographer, Jay Maisel refers to every day shooting as, "visual push-ups."  I was trying to "will" something to happen that simply was not going to happen.

My father-in-law just spent a quick weekend with my family recently and left two books with me, both of which by the same author, Robert Olen Butler.  One of them, From Where You Dream, is on the process of writing fiction.  Now, what does this have to do with anything?

These are impromptu thoughts:

  • There is a correlation between writing and photography (at least to me there is a connection) and From Where You Dream has made me conscious of that.
  • I am not saying that you must go out and read with diligence and care Butler's book on writing fiction in order to take great images or for whatever other epiphany you might hope would come from reading such a book.  The read to me has been a great exercise in thinking about what I think when I am not thinking at all. 
  • This excerpt by Janet Burroway from the last page of the introduction to From Where You Dream exemplifies my thinking:

               "Butler's writing 'zone' is instead a place of meditation on the sense experience of the characters, requiring both patience and a depth of concentration that must be surrendered to and cannot be willed."

To close, that's my long-winded, out-of-the-blue stab at what I unconsciously think about with regards to photography, which may mean I have not been thinking at all...