Last year’s A to Z Challenge became a year long focus that changed how I approach art, poetry, and writing fiction. I like to combine the A to Z Challenge with the daily poetry prompts from NaPoWriMo and Poem-a-Day, so last year I picked the simple topic of “Abstract Nouns.” Abstract nouns are nouns that denote an idea, quality, or state rather than a concrete object. In other words, they are things that cannot be measured or perceived with the five main senses. They represent intangible ideas.
Studying abstract nouns led to reading lots of philosophy. Trying to capture photographs of abstract nouns led to a deep dive into abstract art and creating many new photography techniques. And the challenge led to some interesting poems about how we each have a different definition, sometimes contradictory definitions of the same abstract noun.
After the April Challenges were over, I continued my study with a new daily challenge of abstract nouns, and by the end of the summer, I had discovered a new passion: Contradictory Abstract Nouns. Inspired by a piece of writing advice, “Find the despair in hope, and the hope in despair,” I started trying to capture images of these contradictory abstractions, and this led to a continuing study of what I call the Big Five: Truth/ Deceit; Beauty/ Ugliness; Love/ Apathy; Happiness/ Despair; Wisdom/ Naivete. I even used the Big Five as inspiration for the main characters in my NaNoWriMo novel.
For this year’s A to Z Challenge I will be looking at contradictory abstract nouns that both start with the same letter. This will make for less obvious combinations, and more creative contrasts. Since A to Z subtracts Sundays, I’m going to leave this year’s Sundays open to collage my images and thoughts from the week.
Here is a calendar of the ideas I have so far. Like last year, X needs some leeway. These are tentative and may change by April first.
For my theme this year, I chose abstract nouns which are words for things that aren’t perceived by the senses, and can’t be physically measured. They are ideas, qualities, or states rather than concrete objects. I chose this theme because I combine the A to Z Challenge with National Poetry Writing Month and abstract nouns are the breath of life for poetry. Two–love and beauty–have kept poets busy through the ages.
I really enjoyed this theme. It kept me inspired every day. My attempts to express these concepts as abstract photographs led me to try new techniques:
using clear fishing line in my filters to create floating shapes
more detailed wire work
a light curtain as background
using the camera’s built in effects in the mirrorworld
opening the blinds to let the outside into the mirrorwold
light-painting with a flashlight for still and moving bokeh at the same time
and create fun new bokeh filters. My favorites:
I also enjoyed diving into the definitions of these abstract nouns and discovering how many of them had circular definitions: What is comfort? Solace. What is solace? Comfort. I found I would like to explore many of them further.
The A to Z Community
I want to thank everyone who came by to read my posts. I appreciated all the likes and comments. There were a lot of really fun themes this year and posts that I enjoyed reading. I especially enjoyed:
It’s fun to look at what everyone’s thinking about and exploring. If you are looking over the month of my work as a whole, I would love to know: Which of my images was your favorite? Which of my poems was your favorite?
May Photo Challenge
I enjoyed my daily exploration of abstract nouns so much, I want to keep doing it. There’s so much more to explore and think about with each of the abstract nouns I looked at in April, I could repeat that calendar over and over, but there are also so many more abstract nouns to explore. I created a new calendar for this month, including homographs for Sundays like last month. Though I won’t be posting every day, I will be taking pictures and writing poems each day focused on these abstract nouns. I may return to April’s nouns in June.
Starting today, my focus returns to my main priority of finishing novels. Yesterday, I was thinking about how I can bring the same passion and daily feeling of accomplishment I feel with photography and poetry to my daily novel writing. I wrote in my journal:
“What if I approach each scene as an exploration of an abstract noun? How would I explore –adventure (for example)–in my scene today? How would my POV character encounter–adventure–in this setting? Or express –adventure– to another character? How would he show–adventure– on his face/ with his body language? How would she perceive the world in this moment through–adventure?”
This month, I’m going to play with this idea in my morning pages, replacing –adventure– with each of my abstract nouns each day and see how it affects my scenes. Hopefully it will give my novel writing that same sense of discovery, exploration, and wonder I find in my photographs.
So on to this next adventure, full of exciting risks and hazards, daily daring into unusual undertakings. What does adventure look like today? I want to see what my new door filter I created for yesterday’s “close” images looks like in the mirrorworld, and revisit my squirrel while continuing to practice light painting with a flashlight in the mirrorworld.
Today’s prompt for Quadrille #151 is “static.” Static, it turns out, is a homograph with all sorts of great meanings. To end today’s adventure, I’ll attempt to condense it all down to exactly forty-four words.
Staring at the Static
a screen full of snow hissing hush, mesmerizing smelling of soap and ash rough and jagged out of touch off the dial dissonance untuned to the frequencies of the immovable missing today’s adventure of the shadow or another not getting through because static clings