Seizing Opportunity

A Opportunity Accepted

Many thanks to all who helped Jim decide which photo to enter in the little local contest.  With your prompting, he chose “After the Dustbath.”  Responses overall were interesting, but this one seemed to hit people both on an artistic level, and on an “awww-so-cute” level.  It also seemed to appeal because of the sense of motion it contains.

Several comments (as well as e-mails) asked me about Jim’s photography.  So, here’s my very amateur attempt to reply.  First of all, all four photos featured last week were hand-held, no tripod.  Jim used a long telephoto lens for most of the photos, although “Cedar Waxwings” was taken with his regular lens.

None of these photos were taken at a zoo, aviary, wildlife preserve, or any location where the birds’ freedom of motion was restricted.  Three, in fact, were taken in our yard.  The sandhill cranes were photographed at a facility created as a rest stop for migrating wildlife.

In the case of the photos taken at our house, Jim often had minimal time to prepare.  The set-up was likely something like this:

“Hey!  Quail out front!  With chicks!”

Camera is then grabbed, pointed, focused, and photos are taken.

Jim doesn’t have any of those fast clicky devices used by professional photographers who specialize in action shots.

The photo accompanying this piece was taken in our back yard, by flashlight (held by me), for no other reason than that we’d never seen a toad actually sitting on the lily pads of the miniature waterlily in our teeny pond.  The toad knew us so wasn’t scared.  In fact, he started singing, and thus the photo.

This brings me to the value of seizing opportunity.  So often I’ve encountered people who refuse to do something because they don’t feel sufficiently assured in advance that it will be worth their while or “pay off.”  The recent trend of self-publishing and the related one of “monetizing” crafts has added to the sense that no one should do anything for any reason except to make money.  That’s such a pity.

The two novels I recently sold (Library of the Sapphire Wind and Aurora Borealis Bridge aka “The Over Where Duology”) were written without any promise of anything except that I’d really have a great time writing them.  And I did.  Even if these books had never sold, nothing could have taken that joy from me.

The Firekeeper books, my most popular series to date, come from the same happy place.  I wrote Through Wolf’s Eyes because I wanted to, even though I was surrounded by people who held forth that a professional writer like me, who already had several published novels (including some like Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls and Changer, which had received a lot of critical acclaim) should never take on such a big project without a contract.

But I did, and in addition to making me happy, I made a lot of other people happy, too.

So, seize the opportunity, whether to write or craft or dance to your favorite song…  Or join our toad friend, and sing for no other reason than that you feel like doing so.  Joy is its own reward.

8 Responses to “Seizing Opportunity”

  1. @JayDzed Says:

    I utterly ADORE Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls, and have re-read it more than a couple of times.

    Thank you.

  2. Beverly Martin Says:

    I can tell you write from joy rather than from duty. I think a lot of characters and books are ruined because they were written as a chore to be accomplished. Your characters and stories stay alive. Thank you!

  3. King Ben's Grandma Says:

    I couldn’t agree more! Joy is definitely it’s own reward. I’ve even gotten past caring if I look ridiculous to other people. I’m that person chasing after a butterfly trying to take it’s picture. Sometimes I even get lucky😉😆

  4. Jane Says:

    I was listening to an online writing class by Brandon Sanderson. In the introduction, he said it’s typical if someone says they are writing stories, the first question many people ask is, “How much will you get for it?” But if you see some people on the street playing basketball, you don’t ask them if they are getting paid or when they will be playing in the NBA. They are obviously playing for fun.

    Telling stories can be a hobby for fun and enjoyment. Sure people would like to be published – and if they work hard and are fortunate, might even be able to make a living. But that doesn’t have to be the driving goal – the writing itself can be the reward for many people.

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