The Beginning of Blogging

Waking up to my 100th day in Charleston tomorrow is going to be strange. Ever since I’ve started this 365 project the days have flown by. Tomorrow will also mark the 200th day of this project and I feel forced to re-evaluate the reasons why I started blogging. After all, I’ve spent more time blogging than I care to admit and to an audience that I could count on my left hand. The point of this post isn’t going to be to entertain. I just want to write this one for me.

The whole project originates back in 2009, when I first ran across Anna Szczekutowicz‘s work on Flickr. She was a younger photographer at the time and I found her work around 100 days into what she called a 365 project. It’s where she took a photograph everyday and posted it on the site. There usually wasn’t much writing but man were her photos breath-taking.

By 2010 I had decided to do my own photography 365 project. I tried it, usually only making it to day 20 before giving up. On my 6th try I made it all the way through. Another artist named Carolyn Snyder helped motivate me and kept me accountable for my posts. Around this time Anna took down her photo-stream and I felt like somebody had ripped a carpet out from under me. Removing your original inspiration leaves you with a hole and forces you to see what truly motivates you.

What I found motivational turned out to be my need for expression. The project gave me an outlet to get away from the world and do my thing. While it was escapism at the best, I found I grew more with photography than anything else in my life. The bug had bit me and I was forced to scratch that itch for years.

My project completed in early 2011 with no hiccups. Photography coursed through my blood at this point and seemed to be the only path I had. Many of my friend knew me because they saw me carrying a camera around. I had shot a dozen senior photos and most of my friends had modeled for me during the 365 project. I lived and breathed art.

Another great inspiration at the time was Linus Hui of Linus & the Feel Good Factory. He completed three 365 projects and evolved my concept of the project. Linus’ art was photography but it had a different take. Instead of just being a beautiful photograph, he included paper crafts that he designed. In addition, at the bottom of his posts, he wrote a tutorial on how to be or do something. “How to fake interest in conversations or on dates” was just the fourth day of his 3rd project.

What Linus showed me was that there really aren’t any rules on a 365 project. When I worked on my photography 365, I was strict and wanted a full year of only images. After that, I realized that art was so much greater than the limitations that we place on it. Restricting myself to taking photographs produced a portfolio but it didn’t satisfy my creative itch. I need something more.

I spent years looking for what that scratch might be. I delved into a 90-day project (like Anna’s) and found no satisfaction.Producing art had always given me fulfillment but I couldn’t figure out why it stopped. Perhaps this is something all artists face occasionally.

2012 was a great year because I finally found something that satisfied me. At this time, the photography community shifted from a photo-sharing site (Flickr) to Facebook. Involvement with up-and-coming photographers on Flickr gave me the ability to be friends with photographers on Facebook and interact with them on a personal level. These interactions lead me to becoming active on WordPress.com, where I could interview and write about artists.

The most satisfaction came from writing about artists and reviewing their work. This time bore “The Anatomy of a Dreamer“, “The Memory Get-ter“, “Navel Oranges“, “Eric Albee” (original personal blog), as well as many other projects. The inspiration that lead other artists to create inspired me. I suddenly understood why people create and I felt it again in a greater sense.

Mid-2012 I changed career fields and spend June and July immersed in training. I didn’t have access to the outside world until September and I was so wrecked from training that I didn’t know who I was anymore. The damage the training incurred made me have to reconstruct who I was and who I wanted to be.

Blogging came back naturally in slow increments. I experimented with other mediums like painting and vlogging as a way to figure out who I was. Inspiration came sporadically and I didn’t have very much time to myself. The nights I spent painting were often concluded with a sigh and a lack of satisfaction. The skill I desired needed more time than I had to give to it. I wanted to be good at these things but I couldn’t spend 10 hours learning a new skill each day.

The interesting thing is that although I didn’t feel satisfied, I still felt compelled to create. Something drove me to go to art and I couldn’t explain it at the time.

Stress ruined me from September to October and I turned to many Buddhist texts. I found that the advice I read could relieve a couple of hours of stress and give me an emotional break. Essentially these books helped me rebuild myself. Everyday I woke up and dreaded going to work. I would come home after 9 hours and cry in the shower or sob on the phone seeking consolation. Books like “The Power of Now” taught me coping mechanisms and released the clamp I felt I had on my head.

In October I met another artist who lived in the same building as me. We shared our frustrations and meeting him released a lot of stress. Suddenly I knew that I wasn’t alone and that other people suffered through the same things that I did. We spent a lot of time talking about art and just hanging out. It was good to physically know an artist.

I was forced to move away from that friend in October.  I didn’t have anyone to have deep conversations with anymore. Blogging filled that hole and shifted purposes. It gave me a way to create a monologue of what I wanted to say. Although there wasn’t conversation, I was able to express myself again.

Around the end of November I had an emotional charge about censorship. I couldn’t contain myself and it was like a last burst before I started blogging regularly. The truth is that I’ve blogged since my 2010 trip to Spain. It wasn’t until this emotion charge that I felt compelled to write more often and with purpose.

December 2nd I decided to start another 365 project. Instead of taking photographs everyday I wanted to write. It didn’t matter what I wrote about as long as it was 100 words every day. My job couldn’t take my life away from me and I wanted to prove that to myself. I was an artist and it was in my soul to create.

That unnerving lack of satisfaction I dealt with disappeared. Even though I didn’t have my camera or the equipment I could produce something that was my own. Days passed by and I had writing to prove that I was alive. No longer did I feel totally repressed.

After about 15 days I knew the project was going to stick. The words started off philosophical and my posts revolved around dealing with stress. These were things I knew and could easily write about. I was recording my life at one of the most stressful times I had ever experienced and sharing that with everyone.

As the year concluded my mother flew down to visit for Christmas. When the holidays were over,  the stress about work changed to homesickness and loneliness. I felt alone again and I wanted my old life back. My blog reflected this with about 20 posts about missing my cat and house.

The reason I started my 365 was to relieve this stress and to talk about it. Perhaps blogging was more of a conversation with myself than it was with anyone else. Photography was an expression that other people could appreciate even if they didn’t understand the message. Blogging is very different. It was direct and a tool I needed to rebuild a broken Eric.

As time progressed blogging documented my life events rather than hopeful Buddhist advice. When a boy unexpectedly kissed me in class, I wrote about it. Going home was a huge time for me, so I spent a week writing about it. Finishing training was a huge event. Moving to Charleston on day 100 was a huge life change. Becoming involved with another openly gay guy here lifted me up through 5 posts (and shoved me back down afterwards with 10 posts). Blogging was a way to digest everything that was happening.

As tomorrow marks day 200 out of 365 days, I really have to look at why I blog. Is there purpose to write for another 165 days? The answer is obvious; yes.

Blogging means so much to me; It records my life at any given moment it allows me to digest thoughts and things that I’m thinking about regularly, it opens my eyes towards what I’m doing with my life. Blogging reminds me that I still have some say over what’s happening. It gives me the opportunity to share my passions and experiences with other people. I feel human after writing. Blogging gives me something to share. It is medicinal after a heartbreak. Writing this fuels a fire within that I cannot put out. I feel compelled to create everyday and I haven’t found anything that satisfies me greater than caving in to that desire.

That is why I blog.

199/365

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I apologize for how long this post became. This past year has been filled with a lot of emotions and I didn’t want to restrain why I blog. That would almost be self-defeating. If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I really urge you to start your own blog over at WP.com. It’s life-changing, free, and will take you only 10 minutes to learn.

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Focusing on Everything

Sometimes we can’t see things clearly when we’re too close. When we take a step back, we can prioritize what it is that we want to do first, then place everything else after. When I first started this project I explicitly wrote that I wanted to write exclusively on my personal blog for this 365 project. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t spread my posts thin across a variety of domains. Now that I’ve become more use to blogging and it’s a regular thing, I want to focus on building my other blogs; The Anatomy of a Dreamer and Navel Oranges.

The first is a project I created a little less that a year ago in an effort to interview new artists. I wanted to spread the artists that I knew and loved to those who didn’t know them. It’s mutually beneficial because the artists can get more viewers while the viewers can see more artists. It’s like bridging a gap where people would have to advertise themselves or have to search extensively for an artist or knowledge about an artist. Unfortunately a couple months after starting I had to take a long break for work. Afterwards I never got the ball rolling again and it’s been almost 7 months since I’ve written anything in-depth on it. My goal is to write an interview with an artist or an article about an artist weekly. To be more specific, I want to release an article every Tuesday!

The second blog I started around the same time period in another attempt to share what I love. This time instead I decided to focus on music. I constantly hear other people saying that they listen to all types of genres and I would love to share what I love with them. If people are truly as open as they say, then a music blog about all genres would be easy to follow. If you didn’t like one particular genre, then wait til the next week and find another. I listen to a lot of post-rock, electro-swing, acoustic, and bubbly music. I feel like I could rant and rave about them all day, so why not create a place for it.

Unfortunately upon the creation of Navel Oranges I neglected to notice that I didn’t know why I loved the music that I did. It was just great music! Another thing that I didn’t notice was that there are a lot of websites that already focused on music. My knowledge of why music sounds the way it does is severely limited. I don’t play any instrument fluently and I have the worst rhythm. Seriously I don’t think you’ll find a person who has worse rhythm than me. It’s really that bad. Anyways, beyond excuses, I want to release an article every Friday about new music and new genres that I’m listening to. It’s something I’m incredibly passionate about and would like to further my knowledge about!

I would really like to emphasize that I am no music expert. That’s why if you have any interest in any sort of music, shoot me a comment in the section below and I’ll open up the floor for anyone who wants to guest blog. The blog is an open floor and I would love to hear what music everyone is listening to. It’s a community that I would like to help develop online and I would love to have more people participate.

Finally I started a Facebook page where I’ll just toss out music that I’m listening to from Navel Oranges. I can’t write about everything I’m listening too, nor would I want to. Sometimes the music is just enough and it doesn’t need further explanation. Also, Facebook is a great medium too. I find myself listening to all the music my friends post in an effort to discover new artists. If you’re in the same boat and are looking to listen to a wide variety of music, like the page “Navel Oranges Music Project” on Facebook.

I think that’s everything for tonight! What I’ve written is of course a goal and we’ll have to see how everything works out. Perhaps I’ll write more for each one or less. To summarize, a weekly post on Tuesdays for The Anatomy of a Dreamer, and a weekly post on Fridays for Navel Oranges!

Have a wonderful night everyone!

37/365

 

10/365

Wow! Today marks 1/36.5 the way through my project! That’s crazy! Perhaps if I keep writing short posts I’ll be through it in no time! 😉 Just kidding guys! Today I spent a lot of time studying Danish off of this app on my phone. I’m in love with the language, it’s amazing. It’s weird to feel so passionate about something I know so little about or that is so random. It’s like the language just clicks in my mind or maybe I’m just enjoying it too much! Although I know it will take me a long time to learn and probably even longer to write, I feel like it will be a great accomplishment. Perhaps later in the year my Danish will be well enough to blog in! Now that would be crazy!

10/365