what to do with the photos

Last year I started a photo challenge on my Instagram account to post a black and white photo every day. It stemmed from a seven-day challenge on Facebook where the idea was to post a black and white image from your life with no people in the photo and no explanation.

I decided to keep doing it after the seven days was over and posted the images here on my blog.

20171210 Once was tree IG tweak

Once was tree

At the end of 2017, I knew I wanted to continue with the project but I wasn’t sure if this blog was the right place for it. As you can see from my description, stepping on the cracks is all about finding my way out of my comfort zone. Most of my posts on here are writing about the steps I’m taking and they don’t always have photos because often there isn’t a photo that’s relevant.

The black & white project is part of what I’m doing to explore the boundaries of my comfort zone, but the photos themselves aren’t related to the things I write about. They didn’t seem to belong on the blog. It felt like everything was mixed up and incoherent. A bit like my brain in January.

It finally occurred to me that it would make more sense to make a new blog devoted to the photo project—plus a couple of other projects that I’m working on—and to keep the writing here.

So in between going out and actually taking photos, stuffing around with processing apps and Photoshop, working, and doing school holiday stuff, that’s what I’ve been doing. And here it is straighlinesgirl images. Thank you to my sneak-peekers who gave me feedback and encouragement to go live.


Book 2018/01 – Steal Like an Artist

Austin Kleon describes himself as “. . . a writer who draws. I make art with words and books with pictures”.

The book Steal Like an Artist is based on a talk Mr Kleon gave to some community college students in 2011 where he spoke to a list of ten things he wished he had known when he was starting out. People went nuts for his message and he expanded his work into a book, which was published in 2012.

20180130 Steal Like An ArtistI’ve had a couple of people recommend it to me recently so I decided to finally check it out. My local bookshops didn’t have any more copies when I went to get it, but the library did — and an electronic version at that, so I could download it on the weekend and read it immediately. Hooray internet!

It’s a great book for a skim through to get the ideas and let them float around in your head for a while and then to go back to in some more detail, in the spirit of stealing other people’s stuff as described in the book, to find the ideas that you want to take for yourself.

The book has ten “chapters”, or main themes, which are the ten things from the original talk.

  1. Steal like an artist.
  2. Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started.
  3. Write the book you want to read.
  4. Use your hands.
  5. Side projects and hobbies are important.
  6. The secret: do good work and share it with people.
  7. Geography is no longer our master.
  8. Be nice. (The world is a small town.)
  9. Be boring. (It’s the only way to get work done.)
  10. Creativity is subtraction.

The book then goes on to delve into each theme and explain it further.

The main idea that I got from the book is that everyone is a mixture of what (and who) they choose to let into their lives — “You are the sum of your influences” — and that nothing is original; the idea that all creative work “builds on what came before”. So your job is to collect good ideas, things you love, from people that inspire you, which can then influence the work you produce.

Mr Kleon suggests making yourself a “swipe file” where you can record the things you steal – quotes, observations, passages from books, overheard conversations, ideas, things that speak to you – and when you need inspiration to flip through it.

Then you go ahead and make stuff.

The book suggests that we learn how to do things by copying others who already know how to do it and encourages us to do exactly that. Mr Kleon makes the point, however, to not plagarise the work of others. Rather, he encourages copying in the sense of “reverse engineering”— taking it apart to see how it works”. This is why you need to understand your influences and what makes them tick. You aren’t stealing the style, you are stealing “the thinking behind the style”, understanding where they are coming from. And as you do this, he suggests, you move from the act of copying to “breaking through into your own thing”.

He quotes Francis Ford Coppola:

“We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice.”

The final eight sections of the book provide some practical ideas on how to develop your creative practice, which are nicely summed up by their titles. There is encouragement to just get stuck in and make something, to step away from the screen – because the computer is great for editing idea but not for having them — and to build yourself a world where you are surrounded by things you love. It’s also important to connect with people who love the same things you do and to share things with them, as well as to hang out with interesting people who do different things to you — whether in real life or online.

Once you start putting your work out there, you have no control over what people think of it, so you need to keep making what you love to make and be comfortable with people misunderstanding you, misinterpreting your work and ignoring it. The solution to this is to be so busy with making your work that you don’t care.

By being boring, Mr Kleon means that taking care of yourself by staying healthy, sleeping enough and taking long walks is important if you want to make your best work. He says that you need to stick with your day job but to schedule time in to do your creative work and to do this work every day, with no exceptions. He recommends working with a calendar and a tracker to keep a record of what you’ve achieved. He recommends the Seinfeld strategy (hint: it’s a wall calendar you cross off every day you do the thing you are supposed to do).

What now?

The book says the next things to do once you’ve read it are:

  • Take a walk
  • Start your swipe file
  • Go to the library
  • Buy a notebook and use it
  • Get a calendar
  • Start your logbook
  • Give a copy of this book away
  • Start a blog
  • Take a nap

So if anyone’s looking for me I’ll be digging through my pile of unused notebooks looking for the perfect swipe file. Actually, that sounds like procrastination. Perhaps I’ll go for a walk instead.

Black & white 7

The final three black & white photos from 2017.

20171229 End of the road 6 edit 2 IG

20171230 Rain on my glasses edit IG

20171231 Picnic Basket 2 edit IG

The project begins again in 2018.


The not such a good day

This morning, after I had watched the sun slip over the horizon, I wrote:

20180111 Sunrise edit

I was feeling great about everything I was doing until yesterday when a few curve balls stopped me in my tracks and I no longer felt like I was in a good place.

So today I need to be kind to myself and do good things for myself and not give in to the temptation to go off the rails and start drinking and staying up late and eating crap food. Because I’ve only just started to reel that in from New Year.

And I have to remind myself that it will get better.

I need to remind myself that the first thing that’s upset me will happen no matter how I feel about it and there is nothing I can do or could have done to change that. I need to accept that and acknowledge my feelings, but not dwell on them. If I let myself get too upset by this, I’m going to end up miserable about something I can’t do anything about and I don’t think that’s a good use of my energy.

The second thing is in the past and I can’t change that either. I need to remind myself that I did the best I could with what I had at the time, that I’m older and wiser now and past me would not want now me to hold myself back because of things that happened years ago.

The third thing hasn’t even happened, and might not, and worrying about it now will not make a bit of difference to whether it happens or not. Arming myself, talking, and learning to recognise signs that it might be happening are practical things I can do, but worrying serves no one. Least of all me.

The fourth thing might be nothing so, again, worrying doesn’t help. It will most likely be sorted out today and that should be the end of it. It was just unexpected and it threw me right out when I was already feeling miserable, so of course, I latched onto the worst case scenario instead of looking at it realistically.

Now all I have to do is to convince myself this is all true and that the best thing I can do is . . . well, I’m not sure what to do. I’m still learning to deal with days like today. I can’t out-logic my feelings, so maybe I just sit with them a bit, have a cup of tea and read a good book. And stay away from any news sources.

So what did I do?

I already had the day off work, and I had been looking forward to doing some activities with Kramstable, but one of the things that happened put a stop to that and I had to change my plans.

This meant I hung around at home all morning, sorting some papers and tidying my desk. The floor looked appealing and I was tired and I lay down and went to sleep. I’m sure my osteopath wouldn’t have approved and I’m not sure that the money I’m spending to get my back fixed is being well-served by me doing this. However, what’s done is done and I needed the sleep.

I could have done lots of things today. I could have had that cup of tea and read a book. (I don’t actually drink tea. But liquorice spice, that’s my thing.) I didn’t. I could have got out the drawing exercises I want to go over again and practised. I didn’t. I could have started work on one of my photo projects I have a hankering to do. I didn’t.

I didn’t do anything that would’ve had any impact on anything I really want to do. I basically wasted the day. It was hot and, by the time Kramstable and I got back from the appointment about the thing (which is all fine, by the way, nothing to worry about), I was exhausted. I watched him do some acting. I went through some emails that have been sitting around for weeks. I fell asleep on the couch. I really felt like all I wanted to do today was sleep.

Part of me is saying, “Good. You obviously needed rest. You had a day off and you had some rest. Good for you.” And part of me is saying, “You’ve wasted an entire precious day off. What were you thinking? Think of all the things you could have done today. You can never get that time back again.”

So now I feel half-good and half-bad and I don’t know if I feel any better than I did this morning, just that I’m another day closer to having to go back to work.

Only sitting here now on the deck, as the air cools down and the sky starts to darken, listening to the wind in the trees and the occasional cluck from a chicken (or whatever the hell sound it is the Dorkings make), I can’t help thinking I’m being a real sook. I have so many good things in my life. I mean, I have a deck with water views that I can sit on in almost silence and think and write. How great is that!

Last year was, for the most part, brilliant and I think I started things that I will have opportunities to explore more, things I will learn more from and things that will create more adventure in my life. This year is going to be exciting.

Some things will always upset me. Some things I will always worry about. Some things I won’t know how to handle. Life’s like that. It has its good days and its bad days. Today was a bad day, or perhaps just not such a good day, and that’s okay. I’ll have those days. And you know what, I’ll get through them. There might be tears and there might be napping, but I will get through those days.

I hope that, next time I feel like I do now, I’ll remember sitting out here looking at the clouds and the water, hearing the birds and thinking how lucky I am, how grateful I am, to be exactly where I am. And I hope that if I do remember, it will help me to get through that time, just like it’s helping me right now.

I’d been hoping for a glorious sunset photo to round off this post, like the one I missed last night, but it wasn’t to be. So, this instead.


Here’s to a better tomorrow.


Black & white 6

It’s time for the next seven black & whites. Some of these seem like such a long time ago, but it was only a couple of weeks.










Black & white 5

Seven more images from my black & white project.

20171218 Road marking 6

20171219 Skink IG

20171220 Fence 2 IG

20171221 In the stairwell 3 IG

20171222 Sandy Bay Road IG

20171216 Cracks edit IG

20171217 Lines on the Channel Highway 2 rdit IG


The new year

I posted a different version of this post on instagram this morning with a non-sunrise picture of the beach. You can see a bird if you really look.


I was going to do it a couple of days ago, before the end of 2017, but I’m not good on this type of deadline and ran out of time to think everything through and write it down. Actually, I do that a lot because I always overthink things, start to write it all down and never finish it. But now I have actually finished it so I can check this one off the list.


I moved to a different suburb after almost 12 years living in the Derwent Valley. This was a huge change, but one I have no regrets about at all.

We got two new chickens and my favourite chicken, Isabelle, died.

I discovered that loss in one area can lead to positive things somewhere else in my life.

I had to let go of something I enjoyed doing very much (I wrote about this all the way back in May), which made me cry, but after thinking it all through I realised it has started to open up new opportunities to explore what I really want to do and to learn more about myself.

I have found new ways of looking at the world, discovered beauty in unexpected places and have started to sing with a group that has just started up. (It’s true. It’s on YouTube.)

I have gotten to know some passionate, inspirational people who make beautiful art.

I left a job of 12 years, which was scary, but which I needed to do because I was feeling stuck and uninspired where I was. I’m still slightly terrified and bewildered about the new job, but it’s all good.


I am grateful for everything that happened in 2017 and the experiences I had because I have learned and grown so much.

I’m grateful for the support from my little online community, whether I originally knew you IRL, or if I only know you online, or whether you’re an online friend who has become a real-life friend. Thank you all for being there. I said at the start of the year I was going to try to be okay with how I was feeling, to not squash my feelings, and to accept that not being okay is okay. I think I’ve made progress there.

Thank you for the lessons, experiences and new perspectives, 2017, and welcome 2018.

I know I say this every January, but I do want to write on the blog more regularly. I think the black & white photo challenge will help with that. I’m posting most of those photos on instagram, and when I get enough I repost them all here. I also made a separate page (here) where I’m putting my favourite black & whites so they’re all in one place.



Not actually B&W but I like to break the rules. They’re my rules and I can break them if I want to.


I didn’t find using the blog as accountability for my health habits was working particularly well because it kind of relies on people calling me out if I don’t stick to what I said I was going to do. And it wasn’t very interesting reading. So I think I’ll consign that to the bin for now.

I’m not sure if I want the blog to focus more on photos or more on writing, or if it’s capable of being about both, so my intention is to post at least three times a week with one or the other or both and see what happens. It might become obvious over time, or I might have to make a decision, but for now, I’m just going with the flow.

I’m excited about 2018 and the possibilities for me to have new adventures in my everyday life. I want to focus on learning something new and finding something to be grateful for every day, making more photos, writing more, staying active and seeking out and appreciating the beauty that is around me. I also want to become clearer on what I really want to do and to let go of things I don’t want to do but am doing because I think I should want to do them or that I wished I wanted to do. (Gretchen Rubin puts it like this: “you can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do”.)

Happy New Year and may the coming year be good to you and your loved ones.