Monday, August 19, 2013

On Commitment (And Complete Inability To Practice It)

When I began this blog... oh... what, 3 years ago now? Yeah, when I began this blog its intent was to function as a personal sounding board vaguely tucked under the guise of a forum actually presenting questions to a non-existent audience demanding contemplating and serious answers. That is the function of every blog-type site I've ever engaged in since teenage years, because much as speaking to oneself out loud can be therapeutic and helpful in organizing and prioritizing ones thoughts and pending actions, deliberating them intensely via written/typed word is that much more effective an internal dialogue (and also masks your inner craziness from those within earshot).

Obviously this blog's veiled dialogue aided me in the earliest steps of kicking off a business venture I never really expected nor intended to work out as well as it has. While in its earliest stages, the business, the audience, they were all pipe dreams, fantasy constructs to stir up needed optimism and enthusiasm in the midst of the stressful gear shifting at work. I would blog primarily about the quandaries nibbling at my brain but in reality already knew a perfectly sound answer to. A false conflict, conjured dilemma. The idea of having a problem to solve was and is the motivation. As the months rolled on, however, the process of business management, meeting new clients, tackling new jobs well outside the ballpark of my norm, it all became less and less the new wave and far more routine. Not that it was a negative, but that foundation of motivation was no longer necessary, the work had become second nature at comfortable pace with the advancement of my craft in the arts as much as in business. I blogged less and less because I had less and less self-doubt to compete with.

Which is to say I'm feeling pretty confident about myself as an established Professional Photographer these days, which I say proudly, but also humbly as I know the risk of becoming too secure. I'll change gears again if needed, but thus far I'm pleased with the yet-upward trend in my business.

Unfortunately I can already foresee the glass ceiling above my head and know the steps necessary to tap it with a diamond. Despite the enormous outpouring of loathing I've already doted upon the facilitators of Web 2.0, it is the deplorable key to taking the next step. Facebook, Twitter, more photo sharing sites with premium account membership fees to shell out for, a tiresome carpet bombing effort intended to expand my audience in the hopes that one in the droves of gallery counter ticks is that once-in-a-lifetime "in" for some spectacular job I was just so lucky to be contracted for. Like buying $50,000 in lottery tickets to win the $30 million dollar Powerball.

I've never really been much of a gambling man. Investing in a Web 2.0 flurry of activity would be less a monetary issue, and more a problem of commitment. And I would never bet on myself against commitment. As the life cycle of this blog, my Facebook page, stagnation of my website, they all speak volumes about my inability to commit to managing much more than one or two primary outlets or forums of creative business energies. As with all things of actual importance in our lives, time is the greatest limiter, and my day absolutely does not allocate space for engagements I'm less than enthusiastic about. I don't want to spend my time writing or coding, I want to spend it editing photos in new ways, taking new photos, tooling with new techniques... I'm the hands on type, the man in the small shop who hand-makes clocks all day every day because it is what he does. I do not have the time to play publicist for myself so... intently.

Well, let me rephrase. I probably do have the time, I just don't want to do it. Admittedly I am lazy in that regard. But even so much as sitting down to write in this blog again, for the first time in six months, is taxing and strenuous. To pinpoint a subject, narrow the field of focus directly to that one thing, that singular idea, plaguing one's thoughts at one specific point in time that has long since passed and been replaced by other thoughts, other problems, other considerations... it's not easy to commit to a single focus. No easier than it is to commit to several audience-expanding forums each demanding a different yet no less narrow singular focus. Leads me to think the issue more psychological on a baser level, a chemical level. It pains me to upkeep these extensions of publicity, my spirit simply not being in it, at any time, ever.

The solution, as I see it, is to tackle each of the many slowly, steadily, one at a time, submerging in their singular focus one at a time until it is committed to routine much as the motions of my business photography has. For some it will be easier, just mechanical motions made to upload images to more galleries. A time sink, yes, but a time sink at worst. The other, more difficult, mediums, this blog, for example, Tumblr, the Facebook page, they demand a higher sense of interest, a legitimately creative effort, if they are to be genuinely effective. They demand that I become a writer as well as a photographer, and although many have told me time and time again that I write well and should consider writing in a professional sense, it's never been something I felt able to commit myself to with the ease and consistency of photographic pursuits. More valuable than any other discipline in the world is the ability to motivate oneself to do things they do not want to do. I learned that from my early years in therapy. Granted, then it was in regards to socializing despite inner demons demanding solitude, in this instance the expectation is to force a creative motivation to surface despite it being buried under a mound of disinterest. But it is what I must do if I wish to accomplish the goals I have set for myself, if I wish to keep myself relevant in this fickle, forget-you-today media market we all are bombarded and consumed by.

Shifting gears is always tricky. But I have some ideas. And even if I haven't acted yet, at least I recognize the problem and it has me thinking. Can't shift gears if you sit on your hands.