Red Brick behind chain link. One by one to build it up, one by one to tumble down.
Finding inspiration as a writer or for my writing is a question I have come across or been asked on several occasions. The “how do you find it?” question. Really, one way is that I love photography. I love it in art, in museums, in a frame, on large canvas in a gallery. However it is I am drawn to it a lot and enjoy the story that draws me in. I always feel that if the image draws me into a story then the photographer has done their job. I also enjoy finding the image and as a hobby I often take a camera out and walk all over the place, seeking out or just stumbling across those spots that say “capture me, I have a story to tell you.” And I lift my lens and snap.
The image doesn’t have to be one that has me rushing home and jotting down a matching or fitting story. Often it doesn’t at all. But the walk and the image have fed my mind in a different way that has me sitting down with a cleared mind, revved up for something new. Even if that is new words added to a story in progress.
This image of the red brick carriage house and pile of bricks behind the chain link fence doesn’t have me adding this to a story in the least, but maybe the feeling of it penetrates into my words. I might have walked by this location a million times when living on Galveston island and each time my chest would seize with an entirely different feeling, image, thought, idea, or story. But a feeling would always be there. This picture came after six years of walking by it and still a feeling was as strong as the first time. My inspiration can draw from that feeling, whatever it may be, and not from the ‘brick’ of the image itself. Inspiration is a funny thing…is it the site, the sound, the color, the feeling, the weather even at that moment that inspires? Or all of it? Or your own frame of mind at that very moment. Having walked by it a hundred times before, it was this moment in whatever my frame of mind was then that seemed to be captured in this shot.
I look at it now and what I see is that one by one it takes to build it up….and the pile on the ground is to me the image of one by one to tumble down. Life is fragile, on display, but still carries many secrets behind those windows. One meeting doesn’t give the whole story and each meeting is different upon mood….my own, or yours, and the day. It is as if to say that there is no judging the book. One might be visiting the island and see this image as disrepair, tumbling, crumbling, falling down, old and wasting away. Such a shame. And another who has lived here long see’s it, knows of it, as hard work put in over a long period of time, each brick retipped, the foundation strengthened, the weak bricks replaced, the roof rebuilt, the new windows installed. But not all of that is in a single day. This is not a lovely building being left to waste, but one being rebuilt and brought back to life, preserved. And It takes time. Little by little. Yet a different person on one day can see completely different images that to them each a different story.
Our works are like this image, too. As well as ourselves. It takes one brick and then another to create and build over time. A person stumbling upon the work half way through might see a falling image, and another could see the creation process of a building image. On any given day we ourselves can see it in each light, and we ourselves are who has laid each brick and knows, and yet sometimes get a little lost in the process. Forget which way is up. Lose site of the big picture. Lose track of the progress and become frustrated. With our work. With ourselves.
Such is life. Such is how we choose to see the image. Such is how we seek out our inspiration and such is how we choose to hear the story being told to us through word, image, song, time of day. Whenever I lose track of the big picture or the finish line of my work, or of myself, I can take a moment to look at this image and be reminded that I am looking at only the half finished product, mid-way in process, and not the finished version, and that the finished version will not be achieved without one brick at a time being placed.