Monday, May 13, 2013

Short Stories and Snapshots: The Spaces Between Leaves

Most of my living happens at night. I mean, very late at night. It's been this way for a long time. Part of it is that I hang with my young son all day and I work evenings. The nature of working evenings is that everyone at home goes to bed. When I leave work, generally around midnight, I'm just not in the mood to go home.

It's been an adjustment, as many new parents will attest. For years, to my fucking chagrin, I was a morning writer. I've never particularly liked the morning, but for some reason I'm freshest then. I no longer write in the morning because I'm changing diapers, playing games or bathing my boy. There is something very calming about hanging with a baby. I feel there is a certain level of Tao in it. In a way, I have erased all internal noise over the last few months. It's pleasant.

I cannot say that the bliss of parenthood overshadows everything. I struggle to keep up with even the smallest of writing tasks. This blog, namely. I still contribute to Sophia Ballou weekly. And Umbrella Factory Magazine still needs time. Consequently, the 20, 30, 40 hours a week I once spent on writing are not 2, 3 sometimes 4 hours.

This late night life, or late night free time, is interesting. I just don't have the drive or the stamina to write at that hour, although sometimes I do. It's labored and it's painful. Enter the camera. As I explained last week, I find photography and writing to be very similar activities. Solitary. And to do either one of theses late at night is really an interesting feat.
Ankeny Street

Photography, as close as I can tell, is the capturing of light. How do you capture light on film in the dead of the night? As I claim, I am not a very good photographer. Hell, I'd never claim to be a good writer. I digress.

The notion stands, to be a writer one must write. One must write. Taking time out of a life to do this, or to surrender a life to do this is one thing. Write. That's it. Very simple. Wake up, start writing and only be slightly aware of the changing daylight. And if life was only so simple.

Morrison Bridge
The nights are noticeably short these days. The sun sets around 9:00. If I leave work at 11, or even 12, the night has not been going on for long. If I wander around the city or even if I cross the river to snap a photograph, I can still feel the heat of the day rising off the pavement. Inside the bars people are taking leave of whatever they take leave from. I've been known to join them. And again, outside, camera in hand, I'm looking for the right light to capture. Light, in nighttime photography excursions, is negative space. The space between the leaves.

Inside Cassidy's
As I wander farther away and further into the recesses of my imagination I wonder what shot will work out best. What will be most interesting. As this happens, my mind wanders into short stories and novels and screenplays that I will write. My imagination finds the scraps of paper of torn characters and defunct situations and adding the minutia or a nighttime walk through town, I know I have more to write than time will allow. I have more to write than the limited time of my current days. I have more to write than I have years left. When I claimed that taking up photography has made me think differently about writing, I was not kidding.

There's an old saying I remember hearing: Learn a new language and gain a new soul. I believe in that too. Of course the practical part about learning a new language is that you will gain a greater understanding of your native tongue. I wonder now how true the old saying is about art. Learn a new art form and gain a new soul. Or at the very least, gain a greater understanding of your art.

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