Monday, September 13, 2010

The View from my Bicycle [COLUMN]

Focus on what's working - by Nick van der Leek

Earlier today - actually yesterday [since it's now Monday and 2:22am] - I rushed to catch a special aeronautical acrobatics display.  It's when those propeller planes turn on the smoke and do loop-de-loops and that sort of thing.  Aren't with my tripod and a newly acquired 300mm lens I found a perfect spot for getting the aircraft on their run in and background this either with the sea or the crowded pier and city behind it.  Alas, when I framed my first shot, the gray smoke spewing out of silver cylinders, whirring rotors and gleaming wings...nothing.  I hot footed it home but by then the 20 minute show was over.  My second battery, as bad luck and bad preparation would have it, was flat too.  I immediately set about charging them.

Later in the day [Sunday] I received an email saying a major national newspaper is interested in publishing my SA vs Oz story.  I have been running to publications for weeks to publish my account - even snippets of my epic trip to Oz in February.  After the national tragedy a week ago, when the Boks suffered their devastating loss to the Wallabies, I found my angle.  And so that is what I am celebrating today, a successful pitch, not the lost opportunity to photograph airplane in a sun kissed sky.

I was told when I started to write manuscripts that I should rather not write, because it's an extremely tough job, and life.  I would give anyone else the same advice.  Even if you're good at it, it's a tough, brutal and backbreaking life.  It's not pleasant most of the time.  But one has to build on one's successes, and find a balance if at all possible between writing and living.  I do believe the two are mutually exclusive, though both valuably inform the other.

Lately I have been building on my successes.  Obviously if you say in your emails that right now you have articles appearing in the country's largest travel mag and an IT mag and this and that, you imagine they sit up in their seats.  Right now I have a few new publications due to publish my work.  One of the most exciting is FHM.  I am hoping that once I have gathered sufficient momentum I can divert my efforts back to fiction and even non fiction writing, which is my first love, and the reason I started writing.  The big dream is to see visual cues transmitted to words and then print resurrected on screen.  But there is some way to go still.  I'm in a building phase, but it's always good to remember what all the groundwork is all about.  It is good though to be in a place where one's freelance efforts are more directly translating to income.  Life suddenly seems less random, less chaotic, less unfeeling.  When I look under my feet something solid is there; something I've put there from which to leap to the next level.

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