working the gap

This past weekend, we were promised snow - then we weren't.  But the cloudy conditions were ideal for this type of shooting.  Early in the morning, I was getting four minute exposures, something I'd not been able to do before.  And even in the afternoon, exposures (like this one) were two minutes, something I usually achieve only very early and not for very long.  I keep thinking I'm ready for a break from this type of work - though I would never say I'm 'done' with it!  Then I am gifted with conditions like these. Yesterday, a friend shared a wonderful video - Ira Glass on Storytelling.  The video is cool, but it's Glass' words that made a lasting impression.  He talks about the good taste that gets you to pursue a creative project - you love books, or movies, or painting, maybe photography.  So you start creating.  What you discover is that what you create isn't so good.  It's frustrating, disappointing - the stuff is kind of crappy.  Glass says that you need to remember - your taste is "still killer" even if the stuff you do isn't so good.  There is a gap between your taste (or vision) and what you can do.  This is where most people quit, he says, when the thing to do is create a volume of work, a huge volume of work.  That is how you close the gap, the only way to close the gap - do lots of work.  I've heard this idea in other contexts, the 10,000 rule - that it takes 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master something.

So I work the gap.  I'm not convinced that we ever actually close it.  I think our taste or vision evolves as our abilities grow.  As our vantage point changes - as we learn what is possible - I believe we see farther in a sense.  The gap is what makes or breaks us in a way - either we give up or keep at it.  For now, I have to keep at it, frustrating as it can be at times.  I'll have more to say on that volume of work in another post.