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blunders on the road

March 29, 2010

One of the things I like about taking pictures is it’s hard to fuck it up.  When I write, even when I proof read several times, inevitably I misspell an important word or name, or commit some egregious grammatical error.  If I take a picture and it’s slightly out of focus, or at a weird angle, or cast in some strange color, it still can work.  There is more room for mistakes in visual art than in writing.  I think. Making errors or mistakes in writing means you’re uneducated or under-developed. Doing so in pictures means you’re creative and spontaneous or crafty in your well thought out de-skilling.  Maybe my perspective is warped because I want to be good at something I’ve not yet mastered. Also, just because my perspective is sometimes a little warped.  Every time I make a mistake on my blog, or in writing that others read, and then later realize, that feeling of dread follows; the feeling that I’m probably doomed and have blown it.  It’s so disproportional.  Or maybe not.  Maybe I did blow it and I’m really stupid…forever.

When I was in high school I flunked photography.  The only thing I remember about my teacher is that he was a dick and really unhelpful.  I don’t think he said more than 3 words to me.  Everyone in my class were getting things that I was not.  I didn’t understand what was going on and I flunked. Assuming I was bad at photography, I didn’t touch a camera for many years.  When I finally did, I loved it.  Previously, I was studying acting for several years and agonizing every time I watched the playbacks of myself, not getting it right.  It’s not that I was good at photography straight away, but rather that I didn’t care if I fucked up. I just wanted to do it again to see what would happen differently.  It was a huge relief. Many mistakes turned into new paths to follow.

I’m trying to support that model in all aspects of my life and artistic growth, especially as I feel myself stumbling through the varied aspects of my life.  It is just a feeling, most the time.  I think sometimes I look like I’m pulling it off, and, in my own way, I guess I am. I notice myself using mistakes as an opportunity to learn more, or expand.  That’s a nice short-term goal. There was a brief period, several years ago, I actually wrote on photos.  I would make mistakes and then cross them out, leaving them on the picture.  When I would show them and see them hanging on the wall I would cringe, both at the words and at the things I was saying.  It was too intense.  And now I’m doing this.

I’m in an airplane now, flying to California.  I paid $12.95 for online internet so I could work this out. Why do I have to do it this way? Can’t I just write to myself and talk to my therapist and a couple of friends before embarrassing myself publicly? Obviously not.  I’ve done that for ages now and somehow it’s not enough.  There’s more of a risk in writing to the anonymous audience, who may be  judging me, or conversely, on my side.  In either case, it doesn’t matter, I’m working it out for myself.  It’s still strange and complicated and, like many things, only makes sense in small pieces.

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