There’s something intensely satisfying about capturing a beautiful moment in time on film. More years ago that I’d like, I stood at a lookout for Kalalau Valley in despair as huge foggy white clouds blocked what was supposed to be an incredible view. Ahead of me, a busload of tourists ignored their guide’s please for patience and climbed aboard their coach, all too eager to get their day trip done. As the coach pulled away, I sat down on the bench, put my camera down and just breathed in the silence that comes with that kind of clouds. I could have been the only person left on the planet.
Reading through my guide book on the plane on the way over proved invaluable. As it predicted, within fifteen minutes, a fresh wind crept up, and viola, a magical looking valley appeared through the scattering fluffy white. I didn’t need fancy photographic tricks that day. Just patience and then point and shoot.
Writing, whether it be a novel, Short story, flash fiction or any of the forms in-between likewise needs a little foreknowledge of the how, when and why in order to get it right. Raw talent will get some great ideas down on the page, but knowing how to put them on the page well, what to put in, what to leave out, and a idea of how to tell a lasting story all help to create pieces that are memorable, and lasting. It’s like stumbling around in the fog otherwise, with no way to produce the magical valley from the other side.
Learning craft doesn’t necessarily mean a long expensive degree, or an impossible to obtain writer’s residency or workshop. There are many resources around, including local community colleges, short courses, online tutorials, and the unquestionable assistance of a good critique partner or group. Without these, it’s possible to get a great shot, but its one in a million.