Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Time Alone

I have been alone for the past two days. Alone for the first time in almost two months. First there was the busyness of getting ready for a two week vacation, then there was the vacation itself. Once home again there was the joy of spending time with Mallory and getting her ready to go back to college.

All these things have been wonderful, but they have left me with no time alone to think. My creative energy has been running on empty. Yesterday I realized why I have been floundering, the voice in my head has been missing. That "voice" fuels my creative fire.

I have been super productive the last two days. I was getting so many things crossed off of my to-do list, but I still wasn't taking time to just be.

Last night I decided to go to one of my favorite places, Lake Michigan. Sand and water are tinder for my soul. I was on the hunt for "numbers", which was the prompt of the day for a photo challenge that I am participating in during the month of August.

When I reached the end of the pier I found my "numbers" in some graffiti. Content to snap a photograph with my iPhone to transform later at home on my iPad, I started to wander back along the boardwalk towards the parking lot.

During this wandering is when it happened, the voice in my head returned. That glorious voice made me do a leap of joy. I was all alone out there, but really I would have jumped even if other people had been around.

That's when I realized this voice in my head, which I have generally taken for granted or wished would go away, is my creative muse. Photography ideas started popping into my head in rapid succession, this story started writing itself, and I felt alive again.

Driving home with all these ideas swirling in my head, I began again the debate I often have with myself. Which passion to pursue? Photography or writing?

Photography: I love the challenge of photography and the learning that goes into the process. I may never hit it "Big" as a photographer, but I would like to at least print some of my own stuff to hang on my walls.

Writing: I love it when the stories effortlessly write themselves, but I must have that voice in my head in order to write. Otherwise I am just an empty vessel.

While reading before bed last night, the answer presented itself. I am reading A Homemade Life: Stories and recipes from my kitchen table by Molly Wizenberg. She was writing about why she blogs, "I write about food and cooking, and in that sense I aim to be informative, but I write about my life some too, since it intersects with food roughly three times a day. I don't think many of us are terribly interested in recipes that have no stories or real-life context. For me, the two are inseparable. One is pale  and boring without the other."

Substituting my photography and exploring for her food and cooking, I had my answer to that nagging question once and for all.

Next time I am feeling uncreative or lose that voice in my head, I know that I must set some time aside to be by myself, head to the beach, and all will be well again.


  1. I love your images (I know that's not news to you). I also know what you mean about the voice in your head. Like you, I know where to go and what to do in order for my voice to start talking. The voice in my head also waits till I am alone with my thoughts - I think our voices just need to know they have our undivided attention. After all, it's important stuff they have to share with us.

  2. There is NOTHING better then walking along the Lake Michigan Shoreline ! Feeds the soul like nothing else. The beach is so healing

  3. Beautiful images and such lovely words. I can just see you giving a little jump for joy as you heard that inner voice once again. Time to ourselves isn't always easy to find, but it certainly restores us!

  4. Oh yes walking along the water so good for the soul. That voice is what keeps me doing what I do , not for financial gain but for me This is interesting I too am reading Molly Wizenberg (via Susannah Conway)

  5. Exciting! I think you have a beautiful combination of words and photos. I'm so happy that the voice in your head is so positive. And I love the Rilke image and words!!

  6. I'm glad you got the alone time, so very vital to our well being. :)

  7. I'll tell people that they don't want in my head! If I don't make time for that voice...I suffer as well as those around me. Solitude is the fuel that keeps the artist going.

  8. This is a great post! And I believe that Photography is a sort of prompt for writing...and vice versa. I often sit out and take in Mother Nature and words or thoughts come...and then the moment is captured with a camera...and before I know it, I am writing about the "experience" of the moment I have just captured. When you are not using your Iphone, what camera do you use?