So, there’s this contest coming up which I am determined to enter, the only problem is that it calls for non-fiction. I have a hard time with non-fiction because writing started out as an escape for me. A place that I could go to get away from the things that I didn’t understand and that I didn’t feel I could fight. So, I wrote (terrible, terrible, poetry mostly). Writing is not as much of an escape anymore, now I can use it to work through ideas and questions that I have and to fix moments in time, or simply to take pleasure in words. Non-fiction remains difficult, however, because it means delving into reality in a very real way and then I get stuck.
Does anyone have ideas or exercises that might help me with this? I hate feeling limited and like there is an element of writing that is closed to me.
If I were religious I might have broken out the verse, “The heavens declare the glory of god and the firmament showeth her handiwork. Day unto day utereth speech and night unto night showeth knowledge”(that one’s for you Mom). The King James version of the bible was the one I grew up with and was my first exposure to poetry (one of the things I am most passionate about). From the bible I moved on to Shakespeare (obviously), them fell in love with Leaves of Grass by Whitman and on from there. But there are still many verses from the bible that I was forced to memorize as a child standing in the corner for some offence or another ( usually foolishness and daydreaming. I still indulge in both.) that come to me in the same way that a commercial jingle or children’s song do. The difference, of course, is the context. Along with the scripture comes that sense of security (false as it turns out) and the value we were taught to attach to these words by our teachers and parents making them more weighty. Isn’t it amazing how seductive and comfortable the familiar is? I guess that’s why they say ignorance is bliss.
This collection features some of my favorite subjects; trains, my kids, and random strangers. The trains are out of focuse, for the most part because we were driving. Does it work? I don’t know. One of these days I will prevail upon my husband to stop at this most inconvenient location and I will be able to take more time photographing the beautiful art on these trains. And all those great, towering industrial buildings with their network of pipes that make me think of that movie San Francisco in which Robert de Niro is a rebel messing with the sewage. For some reason the pipes made quite an impression when I watched it ten years ago, but then I was smoking a lot of pot at the time;)
Everyone is so much the same even in their diversity. A place or culture will seem so alien, so outside of my experience. The values of people in different places will seem strange and even disturbing to me and yet it is my perspective that makes people and places strange. Underneath the differences everyone wants happiness, stability and to care for their families. They want to meet a good person to share their life with and do something of value that brings meaning to their lives. What does this mean? I’m not sure, but there is a sense of comfort in the thought that we all have those essential, basic desires in common. That though there can be such a lack of understanding between people of different cultures we all actually want the same thing.
Ever since I was a child I have loved nick-nacks. There was always something so satisfying about collecting and arranging my collection into neat little displays. I think that is why the flea market has always had such an appeal to me, after all, what is it but booth after booth of collections of nick-nacks and trinkets arranged in pains-taking displays. One could look for hours and still find some new little trinket or detail in a single booth. I remember garagesaling in Oregon a number of years back and we came across this one house where a woman was selling stuff from a barn packed to the gills with junk (the good kind:). I asked to use her bathroom and found a masterpiece of nick-nack displays inside. Her house was a shrine to forgotten and discarded treasures fit together with such attention to detail and care, it was a miracle of clutter. I could have spent the rest of the afternoon walking around just looking at everything (and I realize that that sounds just a little bit creepy). So, here is my photo tribute to the beauty of junk.