slowly returning to the slush pile

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Last week I updated this site, not just the design but also the links to my work elsewhere etc and I noticed that lately I haven’t been nearly as prolific in putting my work out there as I have been in the past. This week however, that all changed. I have submitted a few stories to a few different places and my work is once again sitting on the great cosmic slush pile, eagerly awaiting some kind eyes to glance at it.

The reason I feel like this small event is worth documenting is that I forgot how exciting the submission process is; it’s terrifying, and often exhausting, but also liberating. I always write for myself but I also want people to read my stories, I want to share them with the world, and that can’t happen when I keep them behind the bars of my hard drive. I have been holding on to these particular pieces for so long, a valid reason as to why becoming less and less valid as the days go on, that I began to lose confidence in them and by extension myself. Writing is such a solitary activity but it needs outside influence to really flourish, even if it’s just a friend or family member reading it over, don’t hoard it away, show people.

“Writing means sharing. It’s part of the human condition to want to share things – thoughts, ideas, opinions.” – Paulo Coelho

Statistically these two pieces will likely get rejected, but for me this is a breakthrough and a step once more towards what I want. I am happy enough with these stories to let other people finally pass judgement, I have let them out into the world and maybe they’ll come back to me with a little wounded pride, maybe the kind eyes will send them further out, who knows? They’re on their own for now, there’s nothing more I can do, besides wait.


post script : how do you get feedback on stories/poems/any creative venture? I have been thinking of trying to organise an online writers circle recently, let me know if you would be interested.


 

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two minute book covers

 

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Last week I started playing about with the new fonts on instagram stories. I don’t normally use the fonts as I prefer to use a stylus and handwrite what little I do put over my images, but this new update actually caught my attention. Having a few different font styles to play with immediately expands what can be done with the tool; we’ve gone from being able to label something pretty basically, to having a little more creative freedom.

One of the things I have started doing, to experiment with this update, is making quick book jacket designs, entirely in instagram story editor using some photos and the new fonts and it has been so much fun. Not only has it helped me draft ideas for my proper design work but enabled me to create something pretty polished in a matter of minutes, without the need of my laptop. I’m going to continue making these and posting them to my story on instagram (@nucosia).

Is anyone else creating something different with this new update? I’d love to see people’s ideas. And, if you would like to suggest a book for me to do, leave a comment below or find me on Instagram or twitter.

compare your work only to that of your past self

Instagram is one of the best platforms ever for photographers, but it’s also a tool that all too easily becomes a weapon for creative self abuse; a well of inspiration you can easily drown in if you’re not careful. I know I’m not alone in this. I’ve had many conversations with friends in similar, and different, creative fields over the years where we would be discussing this band, that writer, those photographers and half jokingly, though more serious I fear than we would care to admit, say things like “Oh she just makes me want to quit trying.” Of course we don’t quit trying, the inane compulsion inside us to make things and share things never goes away, but I must admit in moments of creative drought, scrawling through instagram, I have often found myself becoming disheartened instead of inspired.

I shot film for years, just for the fun of it, never showing anyone my work. I have a box of literally hundreds of rolls of negatives shot from the age of 13, only a fraction of which is from the last three years and even less than that has been seen by eyes other than my own. It wasn’t until I got my first digital camera and started taking photography seriously, joining instagram, sharing work and taking freelance jobs that I began obsessively comparing my work to that of others.

One day however, I saw this tweet.

This simple but poignant piece of advice helped me shift my perspective when looking at my own work. Creative competition can be a great motivator, provide sparks of inspiration and even be healthy, right up to the moment it isn’t any more. Of course I wasn’t going to be producing the kind of work I was comparing myself too, and it was foolish to think I could without putting in the time, learning more, shooting more.

My new perspective made me see that the only thing I really needed to compare myself to was my past self.

One of the most helpful ways I found to stop this idea from slipping my mind was to start setting my phone background to my own work. I routinely use my favourite photo taken to date as a phone wallpaper so that every time I looked at my phone I am reminded of what I have achieved. The moment I take a better photo, or even just one I like more, I update my background. Sure, not every shoot yields a new wallpaper contender but it is okay, you can’t expect to have a perfect shot that documents your progression every other day. It is important to hype your own work, even if just to yourself. If you are happy with what you create, what other people are doing doesn’t really matter anymore.

an accurate depiction of how my brain has been working lately.

My inspiration comes from so many different places, different art forms and often guides my creativity in different directions. This is something that, while wonderful, I do sometimes struggle with; I can be halfway through writing a long story then take a break, watch a movie, and all of a sudden be so inspired and find myself utterly compelled to write a movie. The pitfalls of an overactive, creative brain for me is that I often find it hard to concentrate on one thing. I want to write/make/draw/photograph it all at once and right now.

Evidence of this predicament can be found by looking at the dates of my blog posts. At the start of the year I wanted to write a post every week about something, anything really, just to write and share and take even a small portion of my ideas out of my head. I was going to release my break ups zine in January and now it’s February and I’m no closer to doing that; I can blame my broken computer, that once again deleted everything, but that’s only half an excuse. The truth is that I’ve finally been solely focused on writing my Riley and Fox stories and it’s going really well. I’m over half way through it now and pretty soon I will share another fragment.

Writing these stories has been an experience like no other. For years I have been writing stories, inventing characters and they’ve taken residence in my brain, running around my head, having conversation and getting up to all sorts of things that I dutifully write down but Riley and Fox are different, they have fully taken over my brain, so much so that I’m fairly sure if you were to cut mine open you would see a small diorama of the woods inside.

As I type all this out I realise that I started this post about inspiration. I was going to write a piece about photography but once again my scattered brain has taken me off track and into the wild of the tall trees and flowing river of the woods, back to Riley and Fox.

This blog post has become a simulacrum of each and every train of through that goes through my brain lately. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to control my trains, but until then you can find me running around the woods.

the chronicles of riley and the fox

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What started out as a short story for my niece has spiralled, with quite some speed, into me writing a full book. I have never written anything like this before but I don’t think I have ever written anything like this fast, or freely before either and it is exhilarating. I don’t know what is going to come from this, or what I hope to do with it along the way, all I know is I’m really happy with this preface-kind-of-thing and I wanted to share it. So here is the first glimpse into the world of Riley and the Fox.

The Woods

The woods, in any part of the world, all sizes and densities, are the most magical places you could ever hope to get lost in. This is for one simple reason, the woods is where, if you are careful and know what you’re looking for, you can find the true essence of life itself. From the tiny ants making their nests to the trees making oxygen and all the magic in-between, there is nothing on this earth quite like the woods. They have been here long before any of us and, if we are kind to them, they’ll be here long after us too.

For the sake of this story however, the woods in question is a small outcropping in the centre of a village in the South of England. With just two gates, one at each side, a small river and one lonely commemorative plaque, from an outsiders perspective these woods may seem rather unassuming. But what do outsiders really know about anything on the inside anyway?

If you were to ask any local human, or dog, about these woods you will see their faces light up in an instant. If you don’t, this means you have been unfortunate enough to ask a poor soul whom has just recently moved to the area and have therefore, sadly, not yet discovered it themselves.

Every local resident has their favourite story about these woods.

Mrs Baker will take any opportunity you give her to tell you all about the time Mr Baker proposed to her: they took a summer evening stroll to The Old Wise Tree where, in their younger years, they had spent many an afternoon reading together under it’s canopy. Mr Baker got down on one knee, forgetting about the freak rain storm the night before, slipped and found himself covered in mud, holding the ring box up in the air from the flat of his back. Before he passed away Mr Baker had a different angle on the story, protesting that he had not slipped at all but rather the ground beneath him moved. He soon gave up trying to correct his beloved wife however, seeing how happy she was telling it her way.

Spike, the O’Malley’s dog, still brags about the time she found a stick the size of a young tree, even if her pals don’t believe her; spike’s humans made her leave it in the woods and it’s something she has never quite forgiven them for. Her grudge is so strong that she now refuses to play fetch with sticks, though she has yet to properly explain exactly why this is to her humans.

My favourite story about these woods however, cannot be contained between just one “once upon a time” and one “the end” for my favourite story is the lifetime of adventures that were shared in the woods between one little human called Riley and one little fox called Fox.