Ever since Christmas I’ve been pretty deep in hibernation mode. It was a very busy fall, with me working full-time, teaching a 12-week workshop, working on a new project and applying for grants for it. So when I slowed down for various winter storms around Christmas, I needed the rest. Three months later, and nothing has progressed on my photography, although I’ve been reading and dreaming and also learning to sew. (I’ve also binge-watched two and a half seasons of Once Upon a Time and five seasons of Gossip Girl and I read pretty much the entire 9-year archive of a popular crafting/homesteading/mama blogger.) A few weeks ago, my husband got a full-time job in another town so we scrambled to get childcare while I also kept working full-time. I was planning to quit, but a few days before my last day, my husband got another job offer, which felt riskier and also amazing if it works out. So he switched to that role last week, which has been absolutely crazy, and I decided to stay in my current day job at least until we have a better sense of how things unfold. My head is kind of spinning.
Last week, I also received two rejections for the grant applications I made in December. Rejections are part of this gig — a big part — and I’m mostly resigned to the fact that not everyone’s going to love my work. Probably not even most people. But what’s really hard about these grant rejections is the total silence on why you didn’t get it. Was it the quality of my idea? My budget plan? Or the quality of my past work? It’s so hard to figure out how to improve your next grant application, and for me, that’s always something that pulls me through the grief of rejections: working on improving for next time. But it’s all so much guess work.
The project I was working on last fall involves women farmers. But it hasn’t been going well. I had a lightbulb moment during my last visit in December, when I realized that what I need to do is get comfortable enough with the people to ask them to stop what they’re doing so I can make a good photograph. I tried to fight it, mostly because I feel really uncomfortable about slowing down people’s work, especially when I’m already uncomfortable because I’m standing around watching and not helping. But I think this is what I need to do if I’m going to proceed with the project.
That’s the big question though. Does it make sense to struggle on with a photography project about women farmers when what I really want to do is to learn how to become a woman farmer myself? I’ve been pondering this over the last couple months, and of course I couldn’t blog about it, because I knew those grant applications were out there. But do I really want to carry on with this project? And if not this, then what?
Of course, there is work I need to do. I need to finish my derby girls project. I’ve been struggling with that too, unable to figure out how I want to integrate all the various parts and without a mentor. I have some very exciting news I’ve been sitting on for months related to the derby girls project, but given that this post appears to be about feeling torn between interests and feeling rather stuck about photography in particular, I’ll save it for another time when I can give it the celebration it deserves.
In the meantime, if anyone out there believes in my work and fancies mentoring me, please drop me a line.