A lightening

droplets of condensation 
down the cheap tin
of the cheap can
residual handprint bleeding water

the vacant chair
threadbare from years of lounging
a scratchy radio in the background
ancient songs
antique sounds

She still nags, chicken-pecking in the kitchen, about this, that, the other thing, almost drowning out the broken music. What she doesn’t realize is that

he’s gone
after all these years
up and left
beer still cold
chair still warm
no longer there to listen
no longer there to care
or
not
care

he walks down the driveway
smoking a Camel
his other hand twitching
the straw that broke the camel’s back
Farm Horror © R L Raymond

From Weakdays, Corrupt Press

Everything old is new again

Using vintage lenses makes photography fun – and you get to (re)learn the basics. Manipulation through aperture, shutter speed and ISO, along with manual focus, forces you to concentrate on the subject and the desired outcome. Search those old lenses out. Yard sales, parents’ or grandparents’ closets, online, second hand shops, all can yield cool glass that will guarantee hours of enjoyment and that polishing of your “artistic” skills. Don’t just focus on the internet darlings; any old lens will yield something different, often for a few dollars, or even for free. The flaws or imperfections will give your shots that character that breathes life into the images. No need for apps or filters.

Below: images shot with Fuji XT3, inexpensive Fotasy adapter, Minolta Rokkor 45mm f2 (free, from someone clearing out his basement).

Of Sycophants & Haters

The beauty of online communities, networks, publications, is the abundance of information available. We can learn anything, from anyone, at any time. However wonderful this is, there are too many traps to fall into.

Crickets © R L Raymond

Learn from the Teachers

A lot of advice — a lot — comes from novices, learners, students. This may seem fantastic, a fresh pool of opinions to draw from. It is, however, important to remember that Teachers and Masters have learned from experience. They show what they’ve done, more than expound on what they think should be done. The best example is a college/university course. Would you rather sit in a room with an experienced professor, or with a fourth year student lecturing? Ask yourself what is the difference?

The same holds true for writers. Trust those who have been published, those who have been rejected, those who have proven themselves over time. Sure the new kid on the block may throw his or her ideas out there, but often those are conceptual instead of experiential. Also, those new insights are often ‘borrowed’ or ‘reworded.’ It takes time and living the life to really have the ability to pass along wisdom.

Ignore the Sycophants

However good it feels to have someone like you and / or your writing, there is seldom much value in the sycophant’s comments.

Great writing!

I love what you did here.

Perfect as always!

This ego-stroking, heart-clicking, thumb-upping advice does little to challenge, advance, spark an internal discussion. Beware the folks that fawn over your stuff. Maybe there are ulterior motives (reciprocation, follows/likes by association), but certainly there are few constructive motives.

Don’t Ignore the Haters

Unless a reader is castigating just to castigate, or baiting, or trolling, there may be some useful nuggets of wisdom in the vitriol.

Man, could you drone on any longer!

Wow, haven’t seen this a thousand times.

None of this really connects.

Somewhere, inside that dark cloud that weighs on the writer, there is a silver lining. Maybe a short sentence would work here and there. Maybe that was a weak piece.
Those readers who take the time to criticize, hopefully politely, will give you pause. Are they on to something? Is the challenge worthy? Could this be improved?

Now, take the compliments when deserved and ignore the insults when unwarranted. But, if you are truly searching for lessons, for improvement, place more weight in those that have done it before, for real, in the real world, and that have something to say that may actually make you uncomfortable.