Photography Writing

Feb 27, Writing and Creation

Whenever I discover a new way of expressing myself, the best way to describe me is like a kid discovering a new device to play with. The possibilities of what I can do are limitless because I have no clue what anything on the device does. I’m simply playing. So I experiment: I explore the possibilities and limitations of that device until I’ve realized them. Once I’ve realized them, my work with that device gets more refined, more thought out, controlled, calculated, premeditated, complicated, meticulous, confused… difficult. I’m not a person to be around when things get difficult. People will tell me my work with that device is fine, I shouldn’t let it worry me, but I’ll always find some damn problem. Eventually problems will mount and mount and I’ll come to the realization that my original intention for what I was creating is gone, lost in a mind filled with foggy indecision. And I’ll start digging my mind of previous brainstorms and cellular notes I should’ve put to paper for that ORIGINAL intention only to find that that original intention was a fragment of some nostalgic memory from my childhood. I’ll be in the washroom thinking about this fragment, making abstract and vague realizations that all my creative ideas are adolescent neuroses that define me. And then! Then insecurity will take me and I’ll start worrying about what other people will think of me when they see these neuroses. I’ll finish up in the bathroom, go downstairs and put on a movie and instantly get inspired. And I’ll feel good. I’ll go back up and start to work with that device but eventually I’ll take a step back and won’t see myself in my work. Instead, my work will reflect that movie. Finally I’ll find myself in a rut, sitting belly out, meters away from that device that gave me such creative pleasure.

This is happened to me with writing. I feel like I’ve lost my ability to express myself with it. Thus, I’ve started to express myself through photography, in an attempt to resurrect that creative spirit of discovery, perhaps glimpse it, analyze it, and understand just how I had it with writing. In doing so, perhaps I can get my creative writing drive back, perhaps resurrect a reverie in the craft that is hopeful. I make it a habit to take pictures everyday. I take them regardless of quality, artistic merit, or some academic institution bound standard. I take them with the means I have, an iPhone 4s. If you were to criticize the lack of professionalism in them, or the fact that they’re amateur or uninformed by a photographic academic discursive consistency, I would tell you fine. All I’m trying to do when I take these pictures is chase a feeling. That is it. If you were to criticize my pictures for lacking realism because of the filters I throw on them, I would tell you I don’t care about realism. There’s nothing natural about taking a photograph of a moment in time in the first place. I don’t care about realism or naturalism. I am processed. All my favorite things in the world are processed, from Radiohead’s Kid A, to my shampooed hair, to my dog’s brushed fur or the sauce on my cheese pizza. I take a picture of nothing, look at it, find something in the picture I like, zoom into that spot, apply filters, and transform it to as close as I can get it to that feeling I’m chasing. That’s it. All I’m doing is following a feeling.

I love writing. It keeps me sane. If I’m not expressing myself through writing, I’m depressed. Out of all my creative pursuits, writing is the one that underlies and defines everything. It is through writing I find my most genuine self, my voice. Last year I found myself in a creative block from writing because things got too difficult. It was one of the worst years of my life. Expectations piled on, I became insecure about myself, I lost faith in the choices I’d made in my life, and I stopped writing because it depressed me. I saw no more meaning in it. There were days when I didn’t feel like waking up. Most days I sat doing nothing. For the first time in my life my mind was vacant.
But I had to write. I had to get back my creative stride. I was tired of oblivion. So I looked back at that device. That confused, difficult device. I had to find a reason to do it again. Difficult wasn’t impossible. I had to convince myself these words weren’t meaningless. I needed to write to keep healthy. I had to find a way to salvage my passion.
I took a writing course. Through it I met a group of writers. I meet with this group of writers every Wednesday. Simply discussing our writing problems is therapeutic and helpful. It shows I’m not the only one struggling. They’ve been helping me out of this rut. We meet every Wednesday for three hours and I can honestly say those three hours are the best part of my week. I’ve been working my way out of this writer’s block through routine and discipline. I’ve started a blog and make it a habit to take a photograph every day. Now I’m making the goal to write something, anything, every day and post it up for people to see. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Writing is a habit. Creation is a habit. My goal is to be open about myself. I’ve learned that the best cure for a depression is unapologetic creation. It’s not hard. I’m getting better. All I got to do is chase that feeling. With the support of my peers in my writing group, I will find my way back to being a writer.

Ashish Seth


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