Beyond any other pursuits, photography included, I am a writer.
I went to Wake Forest on a creative writing scholarship, and even got a full ride to Dartmouth for the same. (I chose Wake, because in high school I didn’t drink or ski, two prerequisites to attending Dartmouth, I was informed. I am forever grateful I made that decision, though I do have flights of fancy every so often as to where I would have ended up had I chosen the Ivy League track…)
The first real writing endeavor I undertook was when I was seven and wrote a short story about a kid surviving in the wilds of North Carolina. It was wholly implausible, but at 15 typed pages (for a seven year old), it was a veritable novella. When I was sixteen, I began writing what would turn out to be my first novel. I completed it at Wake, which is to say, I wrote the words “The End” when it seemed appropriate; however, in my mind it remains unfinished and unpublishable in its current form. Every so often I get a wild hair and re-write sections of it. Some day, I will dedicate myself to rewriting it, and perhaps I will even submit it for publication. It’s working title was “The Last of the Romantics,” though this gave way at some point in college to “The Leaves of the Fall,” which is what it remains to this day. I love that title, and the symbolism that is packed into those five words.
I have gone through phases of dedicating myself to the craft of poetry, and then to drama, and then back to poetry, and then plays about writing poetry, but I always land back at the novel – that unfinished magnum opus that may never be. I have written a couple of others in the interim, and a number of short stories – some of which I am more proud of than others – but none that I am so proud of as to submit them for any competition or publication.
In the end, I have always written for myself. It was a release when I most needed it, and like my earlier post on melancholy, this desperation was a bountiful muse. Now that I am in a happier, softer place, I do not need writing as I once did. The craft will always draw me. We are different poles of the same magnet, pulled together at all times, but somehow never quite managing to forever join together and fulfill our attraction to one another. In some ways it is like a subtle addiction. I can kick it from time to time, but when I let myself, I relapse into the world where I am consumed by writing. These little daily epistles satiate me, for now, but they are like methadone to a heroin addict. Although they replace the visceral need, they are a poor substitute for the real thing, the thing that I crave even when I am not actively thinking about it.
I generally do not stage my photographs. I take them as they come, as they are presented to me. In this way, my photographs are documentaries of how I encountered the world, rather than fictional accounts of how perfect I wanted the world to be. In this case, I gave into my addiction, in part, and posed this water oak leaf on a stone staircase on the property up in North Carolina. I wanted a shot that corresponded with the title of the novel. I wanted cover art for a book that may never be bound. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, or perhaps it is a subconscious recognition that some things I just cannot escape.
Unlike alcohol or any other addiction, I can be consumed with it without being consumed by it. I am still whole the end of a poem or a chapter, perhaps even more so, having gained a bit more insight into my psyche. I can live with that.
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