Working on this website has provided me with a moment of reflection. I spent a career as a journalist, PR writer, and then wrote freelance for a time until I got burnt out and decided to move on to a non-creative day job. In posting links to my journalism articles, I realized my last published written work was about 2015. That was a pretty tough year for me, when I was coming to odds with my creative identity versus my career identity. That was also the year I really started seriously getting into my new camera and abandoned writing for a time.
In 2015, I took a fine art nude photography workshop and got hooked on photographing models. For five years I became immersed in that world and it re-ignited my artistic drive. I met some amazing, creative people pursuing non-traditional paths outside the standard 9-5 office life. Many are still friends to this day. I spent every weekend on a new photo shoot, finding models on social media and Model Mayhem, setting up times to meet, collaborating on a shoot for an hour or two, and all the hours of editing afterward. I was really passionate about it for a time. But I was always conflicted between wanting to make it a business and sticking with it as a passion project, and I think that showed in my voice sometimes.
Around year five I started to tire of the community. While it’s also very creative, it comes with the typical dramas, flakiness, unprofessionalism, and that sort of thing that you see in a lot of creative hobbies. I also tired of the culture of harassment that seems to get permission to exist in this space. I often felt like people wanted to work with me only because I was safe, respectful, and professional, not necessarily because they liked my work. While flattering, it was unsettling that my attitude is rare.
I also got tired of the superficiality and narcissism of it all. After a while it started to feel like I was just providing free content for Instagram feeds without enough benefit to myself. So last year I decided to be pickier with whom I photograph. This year I’m dwindling down even further on portraiture. I’m doing a project to only photograph one person all year. The weather so far has not worked out in our favor to schedule a shoot. But not focusing on models any more has re-energized my attitude toward photography. I’m focusing on landscape and documentary photography, going back to my journalism roots.
The other new thing was that I decided I wanted to write again, but this time fiction instead of journalism. I majored in creative writing in my undergraduate years, and my dream was always to publish a novel, not get published in newspapers. I’m focusing on science fiction and fantasy, because that’s what I love to read.
I got a pen name, Noël Eklund, and returned to Twitter, to connect with other writers and get inspired. It was inspiring for a time, and I met some amazing writers whose time I valued. But I was perhaps too good at social media marketing. My account grew to 5,000 followers in 9 months, and I was soon spending all my time there. It got to be stressful, and toxic at times, with the follow-for-follow culture and the negativity and drama that comes with amassing such a large following. At times I felt bullied. Social media is hard for me, and I tend to take it too personally, being a people pleaser by nature. I have since deleted that page. It was occupying too much space in my mind and taking away from my writing time. Deleting it was like lifting a weight from my shoulders.
So that’s why my only social media platform currently is Instagram. I am also going to be giving Medium a shot and publishing flash fiction and poetry there.
I plan to spend the next few months blogging about my thoughts about creativity, self care and productivity. I’ll also be keeping up with my book blog at http://alltheeclecticthings.wordpress.com.
My writing goals are to finish a novel (I am currently working on a fantasy epic) and to publish short stories in journals. I plan to spend the next few months really focusing on my writing. It would be great to get my feet wet in journalism again as well, possibly focusing on health and environmental topics. But we’ll see.
All I know is I am excited about writing again, I am excited about photography and all it took was a break of a few years and changing my focus.
So hello, I am back. If you’re wondering about the gaps in between my creative projects, that’s why.