Monday, October 27, 2008

SoFoBoMo participation

enchanted forest

Paul Butzi has an interesting post looking for feedback from those who started but didn't finish SoFoBoMo last year. The hope is that we can perhaps tweak the process to get even more finished works this time around. I wrote a longish, rambling response, touching on concepts of fear and scope, that I'll repeat here with some changes. I've been reading books like Art & Fear by David Bayles &Ted Orland and The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I think those are influencing my views for now. Please feel free to comment here or over on Paul's blog post about your SoFoBoMo experiences and what you might like to see changed to help you finish.

I wonder how much of the non-finished attempts could be more honestly chalked up to fear and internal self-doubt. I don’t expect many or any participants to own up to this one, other than maybe to themselves. I know I had a lot of doubt about what I was doing along the way. Fear is a powerful motivator in this artistic thing. Fear of it not being good enough, fear of people not getting it. Worried that you are just wasting your time and other people’s that will get to view the pictures.

The naggy self-censor in your head kicks in and tells you what a joke it is and nobody would want to look at it. Or you start comparing against what other people have done and just know,know that what you are doing doesn’t measure up. So if it isn’t good enough, why embarrass yourself publicly. Easier just to to stop now. Stop wasting your time and do all those other things that you need to do that are more important, that you know how to do and people won’t laugh at you for doing.

Or maybe it isn’t art and you don’t aspire to be an artist with your camera. It’s all just taking pictures and then its easy. Or perhaps you do aspire to be an artist with your camera and are concerned you’ve got nothing to say. Put it in a book and everyone will realise there’s nothing to say in your head. No voice. Boring. Hide it away again.

The time pressure was a realistic issue with SoFoBoMo. Much to do, little time to do it, particularly if you think of the ‘final’ product as an actual final product. The National Novel in a Month looks at the output as a first draft - expecting heavy revision - but it is about getting it done, down on paper as a starting point. I suspect the album in a month challenge is similar - those aren’t supposed to be the final cuts of the tracks - just getting them recorded once and into something you can then move forward.

So maybe we set the bar a bit high with aiming for a finished book? Maybe a finished draft would be better, with an expectation of further editing to come.

I would be really curious to know how many SoFoBoMo entries went beyond the end of the month to further revise and reprint and improve? I know for mine I did very little tweaking - done was done. I reprinted with a different cover finish, but didn’t change the book at all, other than a slight re-tweaking of the image colours to suit the print output of the first print. Maybe SoFoBoMo needs another piece 6 months offset from the initial draft, where we tidy up and finish the work? Maybe re-edit, tweak, reconsider etc and really make the final book with a less biased and involved eye?

But really I think deep down, the internal voices that say stop wasting your time kill projects like this a whole lot more often than real world pressures - there's always time if you really think it is important enough. If you can keep the nagging voices quiet for a few days at a time to get it finished.


Paul said...

If I remember correctly, you were one of the first to finish. :-)

I enjoyed the process and did not really try to get a 'finished' product, neither did I attempt work on it after it was done. I was ... exhausted. I never expected that, honestly. That, in itself, was a bit unnerving.

There were moments when I thought, and still think, that I didn't have clue as to what I was doing. :-)

I found articles/books on putting a book together: choosing fonts, spacing, gutters, etc. These were very helpful for setting up the foundation; however, after that, I had some walls, but nothing inside. The decoration and finish work was the hard part.

You're right:There were times when I was lost and unsure, but the pure joy of doing this type of thing, which I had never done before, overcame that fear. I was actually very happy to put it out for others to see.

I think that for this next round, I'm more prepared. If I come up with possible subjects, I write them down, but go no further in the planning. I rather liked the thrill of not knowing.

I'd like to have a more polished book this time, but would like for my subject to be a surprise ... to me.

forkboy said...

Call me a dork, but can you explain what is the core of sofobomo and what it is I would expect to get from it?

I've looked at the .org website and only seem to understand that the intent was for me to take pictures and create a book. But a book of what? Would I need to have a theme? Could pics be of anything?

As an amateur it sounds way beyond my skill-set and knowledge, but I'm intrigued. I just need more information....

Unknown said...

Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time to ask the question. First, you aren't a dork. Maybe we need to re-work the site a bit to make it really clear.

The goal is to put a book together, in a fairly short period of time - 31 days. The pictures are anything you want. The theme is anything you want - you choose.

As to what you might gain from it - the satisfaction of finishing is pretty darn good. As are the things you learn along the way, that you wouldn't learn if you didn't try to do this.

Anyone at any level can give it a go - we had a wide range of abilities and available time take part last year.

I wrote more about why it's worth taking part here

If you have more questions, please keep asking them. It is a good indication that we haven't explained things very well on the web site. The whole project grew out of a variety of blog posts and the site was put up quickly and somewhere in the middle - so it may well be missing necessary information. Your questions can help us make it better next time around.

Anonymous said...

I was quite happy with the final book I came up with this year and was happy to be challenged in this way.
If it was not for the challenge I woudl have nothing, now I have a book that I use as a business card. When I run out I print more. The books cost me about $10 in materials, roughly 2 hours to create 10 books. They are expensive as a business card but then I don't hand them out so liberally. The book being such a small format can be easily carried in my camera bag and another n the glove box of the car.
Now when someone asks me what I shoot I just show them, that is a worthy outcome for starters. I also ended up with trimmers and tools to put together further books.
The biggest thing I learnt was that you need a dead line, if not for that I would of fuddled around and done nothing all year.
Not sure I addressed anything in the blog post since I can't reread it now, oh well.