You get a bit of a peek behind the scenes today because Andrea at Middle East Moments invited me to do a virtual blog tour. I have to answer four questions about my creative process and introduce a couple of blogs I like.
First, let me introduce Andrea. Her blog is called Middle East Moments and I came by it because I loved Jordan when I visited. I went on a conventional tour that took me to Petra and the Dead Sea, but it lacked the insight into people’s lives that I am interested in. Andrea is an expat Australian married to a Jordanian, and her blog is a candid reflection of her life – the simple pleasures, the personal relationships, the challenges of a different culture & lifestyle, and she photographs the environment around her. She once put up some pictures of black irises, which I had never seen before which really intrigued me.
Question 1. What am I working on?
I’ve just come back from a 2-week photography trip to North-East Turkey and there are 1300 images to work through and edit. It’s slow work because I have a day job and a summer social life, but it’s rewarding because I’m reminded of the holiday.
Question 2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
When the Wandering Cows blog was conceived, we wanted it to be postcard style. We wanted it to be like the postcards we sent home to our folks – short, descriptive, personal and with pictures. Practically, it’s also about as much as we can manage. Most of the posts are in the 100+ word or less category. But there are a few – like this one – which veer into a longer format.
Incidentally, our folks were our first subscribers.
Question 3. Why do I write/create what I do?
The Wandering Cows is a family project. On the face of it, it looks like I’m the only one that contributes, but I’m just the “face”. My sister, Purple Cow, possessed the vision and designed the site. We go on the annual family trip together and my brother and the young ‘uns have a say in the itinerary.
But yes, I write the majority of the posts and I take most of the photos. In the past, I have occasionally been paid for writing travel articles, but I didn’t always like how they were edited and editors didn’t always want my photos. One editor made the language more casual to reflect their younger, less formal, budget travel readership. It may have been right for them, but it didn’t feel like my voice anymore. Here, you hear my voice in every post. Thank goodness the day job pays.
Question 4. How does your writing/creating process work?
The creation of each post is an iterative process.
I make notes on things I would like to write about – an incident, a catchy title, a tactile turn of phrase, a smart statistic – because there’s nothing worse than forgetting something clever that you thought about earlier.
I try to write a couple of posts a week and do the Weekly Photo Challenge. When I come to write, I’ll have the story and picture in my head. You travel to a place because you are attracted by one or two big things – Sydney & the Opera House, for example. When you arrive, you find lots of other things which catch your attention – an intimate cafe in Surrey Hills, the milk bar burger with beetroot, or the White Rabbit Museum. What I try to do is focus on one thing, think about what happened, what I felt about it, and write it down. Then I edit, review and edit again. It’s getting better with practice, but it’s surprising how many superfluous words I use in the first write-up. If nothing else, I like the grammar and spelling to be right, so reading and re-reading is necessary.
As for the pictures, I usually know which image I’m going to use because I would have taken the photo for the story behind it. I find photography easier than the writing, although it has its own challenges and I write about that sometimes in the blog.
Introducing a couple of blogs
Now, the fun bit where I introduce a couple of blogs. I’ve chosen two that are quite different in their perspective. The aspect they have in common is that I look forward to them every week. In no particular order …
First, there’s The Slow Pace, who are two Spanish girls living in Germany. They have a lifestyle blog that talks about the things they like – design, fashion, recipes, travel, hotels, restaurants, you name it. I love reading it because they like some of the same cities that I do – Copenhagen, Seville, London (naturally!) – and I like reading the recommendations. Plus, I too aspire to a stylish life. They posted a blog about their bar cart which I thoroughly envied and wanted the exact same one with similar accessories. I didn’t know that I wanted a bar cart until I saw theirs!
Secondly, there’s Visual Venturing, which is a photoblog with an eye-catching layout. Stacy’s front page is like a candy shop of pictures. Black & white images sit next to colour in a complementary fashion. When you first see it, it’s an exquisite choice about what to click on. I like it because one of the things about learning photography is looking at lots of pictures to understand what makes a good photo. Stacy also does a After-Before Friday column where she puts up hers and other photographers’ before and after images. It’s very instructive.
Both The Slow Pace and Visual Venturing will post their Virtual Blog Tour on Monday, 18 August, so watch out for it.
~ Spotted Cow