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.

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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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The Camino de Santiago is my next big adventure. 500 miles of walking and serenity between the Pyrenees and western Spain. It gives you time with your mind to figure out who you really are and what your purpose is. The way helps you open your mind and let go. I want to do this walk and clear by mind. 500 miles of walking will calm your mind.

There’s a movie about it and I’ve been on some of the trails. The whole journey sounds amazing and I look forward to doing it in the following years. Take 30 days to walk and breath in everything around. There is plenty of material online if you are looking for more information. I just wanted to record one of my dreams/goals so I can more clearly define them.

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Writing with and without Purpose

As I read further into other blogger’s method’s and styles I keep running across the opinion that all content should be well thought out and planned. The idea behind it is that it will create greater quality material and generate more views.

However, I think there is a lot of value in spontaneous posting. Writing what is exactly on your mind without fully developing it. Allowing the viewer to be somewhat a part of the thought process.

One thing this generation isn’t short of is opinions. Everyone has one. By writing spontaneously you keep some of the processing of the idea – it’s not definite. It’s not fully formed.

It also keeps things fresh. Writing with purpose definitely has its value. Sometimes you want clear information and things that cut to the chase. But with bloggers and vloggers, I seem to want more from them. Their best content seems the most real and down to earth. It’s like they’re having a conversation with you and their speaking their mind. Other times it just feels like it’s out of script.

What’s your opinion? Do you think spontaneous posts are better? Do you like your content to be well thought out?

Sorry for the ramble, today’s been a long (but good) day!

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Vlog for Days (with Sarah Nieman)

Wow, today was my first day that video editing dragged on and cut into my sleeping. Right now I really should be in bed but my project is exporting from Premier Pro Elements and is estimated to take another 30 minutes. I’m not sure if I’m going to stay awake for it or head to bed. The video will be here tomorrow nonetheless – so nothing to worry about.

Sarah Nieman and I teamed up quickly during a Skype call to ramble about community and getting with other artists. It’s nice to ramble with other people and Sarah is a fantastic person to talk to. I hope that you will take a minute to listen to our rambles!

Sorry if the video comes out a little funky. I just learned so much about Premier in the last hour. It’s so different than Photoshop and still completely new to me!

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Change

Days like today make me wonder if I’ve even changed at all in the past year. Tonight I went to the movies and saw The Monuments Men with my brother and his fiance. We went over to their new apartment and hung out for a few hours like we used to last May. Some things change, like the crowd around you, but sometimes the habits and the things that you do are so ingrained within you that you maintain them.

When I come back next time, will I be the same person? Will everyone else be the same? Minnesota won’t change but its people will. The music on the radio seems to be a mix between electronic and folk these days. More people are moving away from the emo/scene and dark looks. Where will everything be in three years? The rest of my life?

Do I want to come back to Minnesota in 3 years or will I just want to travel? Will I be able to afford traveling? These are all questions that run through my head constantly. I think I need to read Eckhard Tolle’s “The Power of Now” again before I get to caught up in everything.

Hope you’re all having a wonderful Monday night!

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Book-writing non-sense

For the past few years I’ve been contemplating writing a book. I have no idea what it will be about nor why I even want to write one but I want to write a book. In fact, this blog is part of preparing to write it. It’s a way to get used to writing regularly and analyzing how I write.

“The Secret Life of Pronouns: What Our Words Say About Us” by James W. Pennebaker is a fantastic book. I’ve only just began reading it and I already feel like I’m learning so much about writing styles. Basically the book explains how our use of pronouns shows who we are. If a person uses the word “I” excessively, perhaps they are depressed. It talks about how poor people talk to other people and how the rich talk to the poor. It’s incredibly interesting.

Yesterday at the Mall of America I purchased the book “Wired For Story” by Lisa Cron to learn more about story writing. It’s all astounding to me! There is so much expression in writing that I didn’t understand before! That is one reason why I’ve gravitated towards writing.

Today is day 91 of my project. That’s about 3 months into the year, or 1/4 the way through my project. I still don’t know what exactly I’m writing about but I’m making progress. Words seem to flow better in my head and I feel like I can express myself better through language. As a visual person sometimes words fail me but now I’m starting to become more comfortable with words. We’ll have to see where this takes me in the next 9 months!

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Quick note of exhaustion

Exhaustion has overcome me today! I had to wake up at five in the morning and went out late tonight with a friend to celebrate her birthday. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so sleepy. Thank goodness tomorrow is a Saturday! I’m going to be organizing some writings that I want to do for the next few months to avoid days like today. Tomorrow I also want to write about polyamory as well! We’ll see when that time comes, anyways. Have a wonderful night everyone!

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