Lessons and Learning
Life moves quickly, communication is instantaneous, information is shared with the world with a click of a button. New apps appear to help us better organize our life, our blog posts, images, tasks, projects, lists, etc. New articles appear with "exciting and new" information on how to be a better blogger, how to monetize, how to increase our followers and how to stay popular. Hurry up, get on board, work the process, follow the tips, share your stats!! ....the information comes at you warp speed and goes on and on....
Do you ever feel overwhelmed?
Then we are exposed to the upcoming trends in social media and advised that if we want to remain part of the game, we should take note of these. Join groups, make videos, keep your social media feeds active with good content, and stay alert in this process. It is a never ending cycle of change, enhancements, and growth. We add this pressure to ourselves and our online presence and soon, the creative fire either gets entirely out of hand or it becomes a smoldering pile of half burnt logs. We burn up or burn out trying to find our "place"
I actively participate in two social media outlets by choice, Pinterest and Instagram. I have no intention of spreading that further as the other options hold no interest to me. If I have no interest, they will become neglected and (refer to the second paragraph above) your not working the process correctly for optimum results per the experts.
What then? What next? Are my blogging efforts going unnoticed?
Several months ago, I found myself in the "fire burning out of hand" blogging category while trying to sit at "the big kids table". My mind was all over the map. My ideas were beyond anything humanly possible. My scope was so widespread that it just quit being fun. I was comparing myself to others constantly. I was developing a defeated attitude. I ran out of ideas and plans. Lost sight of direction and what makes me happy. It all ran out.
I even entertained the notion of quitting blogging altogether!!
It was at that moment that someone tapped me on the shoulder (thanks Grandma) and brought it to my attention that there was no defined rule book for blogging. There are no prerequisites for blogging. There is no expectation for blogging. Just human beings with passions and a desire to either document or share. We each have the option to decide our end goal with our blogs and there is no right or wrong answer!
Before I go any further, please know that I take my hat off to those blogs and bloggers that have used their marketing skills, many hours of time, and increased blog trend knowledge to create email subscriber lists that are massive, garnered the attention of brands, and have seen the monetary fruits of their labors. They are blogging rock stars indeed and prove that hard work and strong attention to the "processes" does pay off.
Yes, I admire ALL of them!
BUT....where does that leave me? Am I lazy? Am I uninspired? Am I ignoring the experts? Do I not care about blog growth? Have I lost sight of my reason for starting this blog? When did blogging become so business-like and how did I miss that article?????????????
I guess you could say I am "old school". As much as I enjoy today's technology, I still love verbal communication, getting a surprise USPS letter, or a phone call vs. a text. My life moves fast with family and work and shows no sign of slowing down. I need my blog, photographs, and creativity to be my fun, my passion, and my slow,-down, happy, safe place. I need an area to create still life photography. I NEED my blog.
Sure, I have dreams and hopes that someday one of my posts or images will really "speak" to someone. My words will reach someone with that "Ah Ha" moment...my images will inspire someone to craft a photo of their own. I would love a brand to seek me out or be asked for photography services. I believe we all do have these hopes and dreams and that is what keeps us moving forward in our creative endeavors right?????
I am also a realist and know that in order for these to happen, I should probably be following the experts advice but what if that just doesn't jive with me? What if it just doesn't feel "right"? Is it OK to not be noticed and yet remain creatively fulfilled with a blog? Will I be content with a small group of awesome followers? That was my struggle up to now and the questions constantly plaguing me.
I don't have an editorial calendar of post ideas or pre-scheduled draft posts on my blog. Just me, my thoughts, and when I do have time, my photographs. I am taking the thoughts of massive business building right out of the equation. I want to post when I have, what I feel, is something good to share. Whether that is weekly, monthly, or random - whenever that is, I simply want it to be meaningful to both myself and you.
Lately I have been using my camera and creativity on food photography. Still life images have and always will be a peaceful way to stretch my creativity. I am a planner so this works perfectly with each step from choosing the subject, the setting, and the mood I am seeking to capture. It fulfills me completely.
As a treat to myself, I FINALLY ordered a cookbook that I have thought about for years. When I say "years", I literally mean YEARS. It was not so much for the highly detailed recipes but curiosity of this Chef and the story behind his successful (and every expen$ive) French Laundry fine dining restaurant. As I waited for the book to arrive, I started to think about "what if"..."what if" I could find a small recipe and create a beautiful sauce or an appetizer or be exposed to a new taste that I never thought possible?
The book arrives and like I usually do, find time when all is quiet and I can absorb every page. Grab my coffee, curl up in my chair, and begin the "new book" process. From the start, I was expecting a very sharp opinionated expression of cooking well. Cooking perfectly. Cooking expertly.
The recipes are very detailed, the ingredient lists long, the process of cooking these dishes time consuming, and a noticeable skill level required to achieve success. What I didn't expect and was delighted beyond belief by were these quotes from Chef Thomas Keller....
“Cooking is not about convenience and it's not about shortcuts. Our hunger for the twenty-minute gourmet meal, for one-pot ease and prewashed, precut ingredients has severed our lifeline to the satisfactions of cooking. Take your time. Take a long time. Move slowly and deliberately and with great attention.”
― Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook
This quote made me think long and hard. It spoke to taking time to do things right and enjoying each step. To be conscientious of each ingredient selection, each prep step, each cooking method....."Take a long time"...."Move slowly and deliberately and with great attention".....
These words resonated with my so deeply and it applied to so many areas of life....including family, work, AND blogging.....
“I think that you’ve got to make something that pleases you and hope that other people feel the same way.”
― Thomas Keller
With every page, the sudden realizations hit like thunder bolts. The words reached me and made me think....the words that would affect my actions moving forward...
“When you acknowledge, as you must, that there is no such thing as perfect food, only the idea of it, then the real purpose of striving toward perfection becomes clear: to make people happy, that is what cooking is all about.”
― Thomas Keller, The French Laundry Cookbook
I "devoured" (pun intended) every word in every recipe, the life stories, the lessons. I love this book on so many levels and am going to work up the courage to try some of the recipes, the time consuming techniques, and unique ingredients. I am going to photograph beautiful images of the process and of the dish. Whether from Chef Thomas Keller's cookbook or the myriad of other incredible cookbooks AND food blogs I am discovering everyday....I am going to slow down and read every word.
I am going to slow down and be more deliberate in my photography. I am going to remove the insane pressure of refining a "niche" or of goals that stop me in my tracks before I even begin....
Let's lead a revolution in taking back creative power. Taking back our time lost, and bringing back the complete and utter excited satisfaction of taking a gorgeous image, baking the perfect rustic tart, sending a letter in the mail, planting an herb garden, vintage photography prop hunting, or making an authentic bearnaise or hollandaise sauce by taking time....a long time...intentionally and deliberately...
And capturing the stories and images of all of these experiences....on our blogs...in our own way....in our own time....
We got this!