Little Changes in Art

Have you ever noticed the subtler things we do with our art? The little changes we make that hold a bigger impact?

When creating art, be it writing, photography, or anything else, it can often be improved with little touches. That doesn’t mean to say that big changes can’t help, perhaps you’re working with a photograph that really has no merit, perhaps your story has gone on a bit of a tangent or you need to kill your darlings, but lets discuss the little changes.

These are the kinds of things that, when done correctly, nobody may notice, but when done wrong/not done at all, they can often stand out. They’re also the kind of things that people without the ‘eye’ for them might not see, but may feel. People who aren’t writers, may not be able to say why they prefer one writing style over another, just like people who aren’t musicians, like myself, can’t necessarily grasp what makes one song better than another. We may feel it inside, we may naturally pick one cover of a song over another, or favour one photograph despite it’s subject matter being same to its kin. Sometimes the artist has tweaked something, and it’s made a big difference, and sometimes it goes without notice.

And doesn’t this make art amazing? It’s something I truly love, the ability to affect someone without them realising why, and I believe its partly to blame for arts subjectivity. In my photography work, I often make little changes to photos that I like to think really helps the overall image. However, these are changes that someone might not even realise are there to begin with. They can be something as simple as cropping a photo, realigning it, changing its colour, to something a little more complex like adding grain, or playing with the tone. Greg came to me the other day to change a photo because there was some fluff on the shoulder of a groom. It was my photo, I’d taken it, and I hadn’t even noticed this; upon changing it though it felt like a huge difference to me... I couldn’t believe I hadn’t noticed it before.

Now you might think this is me being too much of a perfectionist, perhaps it wouldn’t affect someone else. Then again, there’s no way to know whether it would without you seeing both and a comparison defeats the objective of a subconscious affect. I strongly believe, though, that there’s these little details in art that slip into your subconscious before you can register them. It’s the same with writing, the difference between a good writer and a great one is often these little aspects that set them apart. It’s also something I see a lot in films, where over time I’ve come to understand more about camera work, cinematography, and directing decisions. Having this understanding, this lens, helps me to articulate what I think makes or breaks a piece.

Just like some people don’t notice the changes, I think sometimes we don’t even really notice we do it either. We might change a few words round in a sentence and find it flows that bit better. Did the sentence work before? Certainly! But it might not have held the same impact. I think by being conscious of these changes though, we begin to understand what we aim to do with our art. We can develop a deeper appreciation for what we’re all trying to achieve.

What do you think? Are there subtleties you enjoy weaving in your work? Do you think there are hidden layers in art we don’t necessarily pick up on, but that impact us none the less? Let me know in the comments below!

The Furnace: A 3LT

 

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The flames licked up through the sockets, dancing between teeth and flashing behind nostrils.
The rest had already burnt away; turned to ash in the intense furnace heat.
Finally, he was gone, she thought, but still… she didn’t trust the flames.

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This one took a fair few iterations… but here we are. Thanks to Sonya and to her prompt. My last 3LT can be seen here,  Tower White: A 3LT.

The Last Jellyfish: A 3LT and The Trooper: A 3LT, were also previous entries!

 

 

Ritu’s WIP – WIPW Guest Post

Welcome to Work in Progress Wednesday! Where we discuss your work that’s in progress!

As I mentioned back on Monday, the future of the Clouds is one that’s bright, positive and all about sharing creativity… With that in mind, we’ve got a Guest Blogger who embodies all those traits and more! If you’ve been around the blogosphere at all, she probably needs no introduction, but for the rest of you let me introduce… Ritu!

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Hi, my name is Ritu, of www.butismileanyway.com. I am a wife, mother, teacher, blogger, poet and wannabe author!

Thank you so much to Shaun for inviting me over to his blog today, to have a chat about what I am up to, creatively at the moment.
WIP
Work In Progress.
It’s a phrase I wasn’t familiar with until I started blogging.
And as I learned more about them, I realised that I had one of those… I had a WIP that needed more progress!
Seventeen (yes, really, seventeen!) years ago, before I got married, I felt a story bubbling inside me, and it was bursting to come out.
I wrote with full gusto and managed to get a few thousand words down, but then after marriage, life kinda took over, and my poor WIP languished in a folder on the PC, and in a printed copy in a binder, packed away.
As I began blogging, that creative outlet woke my passion for stories again, and I was writing fresh pieces on a regular basis, but that poor WIP was still sitting there, unattended, lonely, hurt that it was being given no attention.
I wished for time to give to it. I tested the existing chapters on my poor unsuspecting blog followers and was rewarded with some amazing feedback. I really needed to do this.
The hashtag #NaNoWriMo featured a lot during the weeks coming up to November, and following that, hearing of people publishing books that they had given birth to during #NaNoWriMo made me jealous. Oh to have a month that I could dedicate to just writing…
A dream that was just that.
A dream.
In November, teaching, my day job, is in full flow. There isn’t a spare moment in the day, after being teacher, wife and mother.
I started to get certain blog pals of mine giving me all sorts of advice:
Just do it – I would, but when?
Write whenever you have the timeBy the time I finish my necessary jobs, any extra moments left, are used being lazy.
Forget your blog for a whileWhat? Are you crazy? I tried that before, and lasted one day, or maybe two!
I figured I needed a set time to do this, to really get back in the saddle and ride this story to the finish line.
And that’s when it dawned on me. I couldn’t do #NaNoWrMo due to when that month was, but surely, if I could find time in the year when life for me was less crazy, I could do my own mini month long writing challenge.
August was the best time.
It was the only full month where I wouldn’t be at school. There would be no festivities, like Diwali, Christmas, Easter or Vaisakhi to worry about, just keeping the kids occupied. Hubby Dearest would be at work too, so there would be relative peace.
And so #RiNoWriMo was born! Ritu’s Novel Writing Month.

#RiNoWriMo

I took the first step, which was to make my intentions public, to my followers, that I had summer writing plans. Then, I told my family. If I didn’t have them on side, it would be a hard task. They needed to know how serious I was about writing.
Then I needed to decide what I actually wanted from this month of writing. #NaNoWriMo has a very specific word count that they expect participants to reach daily, as a minimum, so they can reach a respectable 50,000 words in a month.
I would love to be able to say that I managed that amount, but I also had to be realistic. Although I was free that month, I also had responsibilities, in the shape of children, who were not always going to keep themselves occupied!
So I decided that I would not expect to write on the weekends. If I managed some, it would be a bonus. On the weekdays, when I was at home with nothing else planned, I would attempt 2,500 words. On other days, such as the week I was back home visiting my parents, I would try at least 1,000 words, first thing in the morning.
And I made myself a visual storyboard.

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Characters, timelines, locations and photos all helped my story to come alive again.
And it is week two so far.
As you can imagine, after starting a story seventeen years ago, there were going to be issues, with remembering what you actually wanted to do with your story. Rereading my original manuscript meant that the story was fresh in my mind.
I sketched out a plan of what I was hoping would happen in the story, added a few new characters to be introduced, and then I just went for it.
The best time for me has been first thing in the morning when I have packed the husband off to work, the children are still asleep, and my cuppa is warm. I sit at the table, or sometimes on my bed, with my furry muse, Sonu Singh, as company, and we write…

And I am pleased to say that, as I write this, nine days into August, my originally 13,000-word long manuscript is nearly 30,000 words!
My WIP is finally back to being a real Work In Progress, not a once started, then forgotten piece!
And I hope this is a little bit of inspiration for anyone else out there hoping to finish writing something they started a while back. If you feel it was worth starting, then it’s sure and heck worth finishing too! (Just don’t leave it seventeen years!)
If you want to find me anywhere… seriously, I am everywhere… here are my links!
Social Media Profiles
Website: http://www.butismileanyway.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/PhantomGiggler
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/phantom_giggler/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/butismileanyway/
Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/bhathalpadhaal/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/56854412-ritu-bhathal
Flipboard: https://flipboard.com/@Phantom_Giggler
Stumbleupon: http://www.stumbleupon.com/stumbler/ritubhathal75
Tumblr: https://www.tumblr.com/blog/ritusmiles
Bloglovin: https://www.bloglovin.com/@ritubhathalpadhaal
And by clicking the following link, you get to my author profile on Amazon, where you can find the link to my poetry book, Poetic RITUals, which I actually did manage to publish, in less than seventeen years!
Author.to/RituBhathal

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An enormous thank you to Ritu for being brave enough to kick off this Work in Progress Wednesday with a 17 year wait for #RiNoWriMo to begin! Have you got a project you’ve been sitting on? Or a question for Ritu on hers? Let us know in the comments below! And if you’d like to share yours, don’t hesitate to let me know and you could be featured on Work In Progress Wednesday!

The Future of the Clouds

The Tagline for this website has always been “I like to pretend I am more clever than I am“, and it’s a sentiment I still hold very true. I really do pretend I’m more clever than I am, I often give my own opinion a lot more credit than it’s due. However, it’s not really a sentiment that fully reflects what I’m doing here with Clockwork Clouds anymore.

Clockwork Clouds aims to be a place to promote positivity and incite inspiration; it’s also a place that loves a good bit of alliteration. Clockwork Clouds began simply as vessel for me to write down and make sense of my own thoughts, it then became a place for me to publish my own written work, and lastly it became a place to spread a positive message and encourage others to do the same.

This is where I think Clockwork Clouds has been going from the start, as I think it’s what I’ve always been trying to do as a person.

I’m a huge advocate for us all helping each other, whether it be through the sharing of personal experience, the offering of advice and lessons learnt, or simply allowing someone else a window into our world. The blogosphere, and the internet in general, can be a great place of acceptance, and I think we should aim to continually increase that. After all, a greater wealth of positivity can never be a bad thing. Sure, I’m still here to promote myself too… I want to post my writing, my photography, and my opinion on things, but I try to tailor my posts to carry a more positive theme, I try to encourage other people and, when reflecting on myself, I try to make sense of things or provide some piece of insight.

So, what does this mean going forward? Well, nothing is going to change too much. What I’m discussing here is what the blog has become, so in may respects we’re already there. However, I’m also going to be pushing forward to make sure we share some more positivity and encourage inspiration in others. I’m going to be making an active effort to share more creativity, be it my own work or the work of others, and I’m going to be making sure my posts have, if not a creative element, then a positive one.

If you’d like to take part in the Clouds, be it through a Guest Post, Collaboration, or simply sharing an idea or two, feel free to let me know!

My Therapy

“I don’t feel like writing so I’m writing.”

That’s how I began this post. I wrote this one line.

The thing is, writing is more than just my hobby, and it’s more than a future career. To me writing is my therapy. I use writing to make sense of my own feelings and get my own head straight. Almost all writing I do is intended to be read by someone, regardless of whether it actually is, and that leaves me thinking about what message I want my writing to have.

The reason I started this post was because I was feeling down. This happens to me once every other month or so; I start questioning the point of it all, I start doubting my ability to achieve anything, and I start wallowing. The thing is, it’s so easy to foster negativity. By it’s very nature, negativity encourages us to do nothing about it as it encourages us to do nothing at all. That leads me to not wanting to get up in the morning, not wanting to go to work, not wanting to take photos and, most of all, not wanting to write. It often takes me days of being in this state, days of simply ‘existing‘ but not living. So, I forced myself to write.

When I write, it’s my therapy, and when I write my spirit lifts. As I wrote that very first line of this post I instantly felt lighter, then as I wrote more I started realising that many of my thoughts and fears, many of the things promoting this negativity within me, were down to simple reasons. Things like not sleeping properly, things like not feeling confident about the future, things like not feeling grateful or proud for the things I have. The more I wrote, the more I realised I could fight this negativity; by quantifying my demons in words I was able to combat them in my mindset.

Then I deleted my post. I deleted all those negative things. That post wasn’t fit for my audience, it didn’t carry the message I want a post to carry. It was me whinging that life wasn’t quite going my way, but in reality the main issue was myself. Instead, I’ve turned that post around into this, one about fighting that negativity. This is what the Clouds stands for; it’s here to promote positivity and inspire imagination. I wanted to tell you that even when you’re having a bad day, or a bad week, or even a bad year… You can often combat it by doing something you love, even if sometimes you have to force yourself to do it in the first place.

Of course, there are times when the bad simply outweighs the good, medical conditions or family tragedy are not simply combated with the pursuit of a hobby, interest or love. My point though is to not underestimate their ability to help, they may at least take the edge away, and through art and creation we may learn to understand ourselves.

Do you have those periods of time where you just want to give up? What keeps you going? What is your own personal therapy? Let me know in the comments below!

Disorganisation Station

Do you ever let your disorganisation get the better of you? I do.

Today I am celebrating Kirstys Birthday, so again this post has been scheduled in advance. In truth, most of my blog posts tend to be scheduled at least a few days in advance (at time of writing I have 4 post scheduled!) and it’s rare that I post on the same day as writing something. It’s better that way. It means I have more time to add information, more chance of correcting errors I’ve made, and it means I’m not just hitting you, the wonderful reader, with information on random days; you can follow along on predefined days and I have deadlines to hit which make me feel more productive. It also negates a lot of stress.

When I used to write a blog post with the intention of it going live that day, it would have a fair bit of stress around it. I’d be worried about it coming out too late, I’d be worried about all my typos, my spelling errors, and I’d be worried about missing out content I would like to add in. Plenty of times I have written a post, only to realise the tangent I end up on is it’s own post entirely. With enough time, I can split the posts and make two brand new things… Two weeks work done and dusted there!

So, why am I not like that in the rest of my life? I’ve written before about how a lot of my anxiety is caused by my own disorganisation. You can read that post here: 3 Steps to Help Combat your Anxieties!. If I think back to times I’ve been most stressed, it’s normally due to something I could have mitigated against. To use an example… there was the the time I needed to Tax my car… I left it to the last day, I didn’t have the correct documents, I couldn’t get through the phone system, and I had somewhere I needed to go. I got it all sorted in the end, but that moment of anxiety and stress was crushing.

For an even more recent example we can use the wedding last week: I’m so used to being a photographer at a wedding that I took all my equipment, but I forgot that, as a guest, I’d be wearing a dress shirt (I’d left my cufflinks behind), I couldn’t find my best tie (despite having it about a week previous), and I needed a new belt (but didn’t realise until I was getting changed). Now, I didn’t majorly stress about these things, I knew I could solve them (And solve them I did – I drove into Solihull and bought a new tie, a cufflink set, and someone had a spare belt), but there was still some anxiety there with the potential to ruin a great day. Could I have stopped this from happening all together? Yes! I could have been prepared!

There’s some part of me, some element deep down, that just doesn’t like getting stuff done in advance. I like to put stuff off until the last minute, only to have it come back to bite me, and I don’t know why. I don’t know why I can’t just think to myself “that needs doing” and then just simply do it. I don’t know why I feel this need to just put stuff off. Sometimes it’s like an anxiety all of its own, it’s like I feel uncomfortable doing stuff straight away… especially if there’s a potential for failure. It’s almost as though my head says: Why choose to do something you could fail in, or that could have an negative effect, if you can do it at a later date when the choice isn’t optional? When the negative effect is coming whether you like it or not? This is how I see the car tax. In the back of my head I knew I didn’t have the right documents, I knew I’d get stressed on a phone-call (talking on the phone makes me really uncomfortable), and I knew there’d be a big cost associated with paying my tax. All of that made for me to put it off, thinking “Why ruin a good day doing this/Why make a bad day worse by doing this… I could do it later“.

Getting stuff ready for the wedding, on the other hand, was just pure oversight. I made sure I prepared all my photography stuff, batteries were at the ready, memory cards were wiped, lens’ were cleaned. I forgot about being a Guest though, I didn’t take that into account and I forgot/lost/didn’t buy some not-too-essential-but-nice-to-have-Guest-Dress-items. In the end, it all comes down to learning from my mistakes. I’m not great at that, the fact I’ve written an entire blog post about it before and still haven’t learnt is evidence enough. Maybe now though, it’ll sink in. Maybe now I’ll be more organised. We can only wait and find out.

What about you? Are you organised? Do you have everything planned out and ready to go? Or is your life the chaos that mine is at times? Let me know in the comments below!

Compromise isn’t 50/50

When most people think of compromise they think of meeting in the middle. This kind of implies a 50/50 split, of efforts on either side, which I don’t think is a good way of looking at things.

Perhaps in the grand scheme of things it evens out to a neutral number, but each occasion isn’t quite this even; and that’s not a bad thing. There’s nothing wrong with this at all. In fact, I think it’s perfectly natural, normal, and shows a great commitment and strength.

In this day and age we seem to have forgotten how to compromise. There seems to be this ever-growing idea that the world should be ‘fair‘ and things should be ‘even‘. Ideally, yes, but reality will prove otherwise. Whether we’re growing more entitled, or more selfish, or I’m just getting older and seeing these philosophies that have existed for an age, I couldn’t say. What I can tell you, though, is how I see things.

Relationships, with friends, family, loved ones and even colleagues are not a constant 50/50 and nor do they have to be. When times are good, they may be close to that average, but most times you’re each dealing with your own troubles and difficulties. At times like this, you may have to reserve more of your strength and energy for yourself, at times like this your partner may choose to invest more into the relationship to make up for that. At times like that, you’re making a compromise but it’s not a strict 50/50, one person is perhaps giving more than the other simply because they can.

To use a more material example, it’s true with money as well. I have plenty of friends in relationships who will call each other out. “I paid last time”, or who split the bill by the items they each individually had. Kirsty and I don’t keep track of this, we just go out and one treats the other… We don’t keep a tally chart at home, who owes who what, we just compromise by helping each other. One of us will treat the other, and that doesn’t just depend on who did it last. It can be plenty of things to who’s mood is what, and who’s finances are stronger. Sometimes there’s no rhyme or reason at all.

When we start thinking about how much someone owes the other, we start getting petty and selfish. The idea of being ‘owed‘ anything in a relationship of compromise and love can lead to distaste and anger itself. It can make us feel under-valued. I’ve written about something similar before: How We Misinterpret Value. The problem is, many times this extends to things that are not as material as finances, things that can’t be added up quite as easily. I’m talking here about things like emotional compromise. There are times when someone might be dealing with a lot of stress, they may even be dealing with depression, there are times when their health, either mental or physical, may well be on the line and they simple wont be able to give you everything you might want or need. Standing by someone, and aiding someone during this time, can mean giving a greater proportion than they’re able to give back, but it will be worth it every time.

Anyone in a relationship with someone with a long-term illness will know the compromise might not be strictly fair. Sometimes it takes more work of one party than of the other. Not because one half is selfish, not because one half is holding everything back, but because they simply can’t give as much as the other, or because what they do give takes all the energy they can spare. There may be things they can or cannot do, things their health doesn’t allow. They may need more strength and support than ever, or they may even need to be left alone (it’s own kind of effort in the relationship – that of being able to give space). In these circumstances you have to treat the ratio on an individual basis. If you judge something strictly by the relationship as its own entity, if you tally it up on some petty and hypothetical chart, it might be true that one person is ‘only’ responsible for ‘30%‘ whilst the other ‘70%‘, but if you look a little closer you’ll realise a more important truth. Someone’s 30% might be their 100%, and just because it isn’t the same as you can give right now, it’s them pushing their own limits.

Just like everything in life we’re individuals, we’re all fighting our own battle and we’re all trying to make sense of the world. By showing compassion and love, we help give each other strength, and by compromising we lighten each others load. Giving that little extra isn’t a bad thing as long as you have it to give. Many of the best people out there are such because they give with no desire to take. We need to ignore the ratio all together, we need to scrap the 50/50 ideal, and we need to just recognise that compromise just means helping each other where and however we can. We need to recognise that sometimes someone needs to take a little bit more, but that they’ll give it back tenfold whenever they can. 

I’ve waffled longer than I though I would and the point is no clearer than if I’d just streamed consciousness onto a page. I’ll try to simply summarise here. An adult relationship is certainly one of compromise, one of understanding, and one of lending each other strength. At times, you may have to do more for your partner because of where they’re currently at, and thats ok. In fact, its more than ok. If you’re with the right person you won’t mind the compromise, because you can rest assured that when the tables turn, which they could at any point, that person will lend their strength to you, they will fill their side of the relationship. Of course, as with anything, there’s a negative view. Some people out there are takers, and will take, take, take without any means of giving back. I’m not addressing that here, I’m letting you judge for yourself. The people who are worth it will make it worth it. They’re the ones who are loyal, who are strong in less obvious ways, and who you feel are worth giving that extra to. Remember it’s hard to be objective, and remember that someone’s objective ‘30%‘ might be a personal ‘100%‘, which, in my eyes, is even more valuable.

What do you think? Should compromise be a purely 50/50 split? Or do you sometimes need to give/take a little bit more? Does it all even out in the end when all is said and done? And if it doesn’t, does it matter? Let me know in the comments below!