Creativity, Commitment, and Crap: Distracting your Muse from Perfection

What do you do when your muse dumps you? 

Last month, I fell into the creative black hole. I think we've all experienced that void space: Overworked. Overloaded. Overused. I was over the precipice of a foul funk hole. But, I still had three weeks to the end of the semester. It took my every effort eek out any creative functions to deliver final lessons, exams, student project critiques, and lastly personal projects.
Something had to give. With no energy to muster ideas...creative or cliché...I gave up on my personal projects.
After the semester finished, my energy was spent. But, over this last year, I've trained myself to refuse dwelling in foul funk holes. It gets me nowhere except on the spiral down to deeper self loathing. 
I've learned to cultivate my inner determination...whether it's my daily exercise or my daily creative spark. It was time to nurture my tired muse. But how? 
Enter a long-time quiet on the perfection front. 
For the first few days of holiday break, I paused and asked for different, experimental ways to allow myself to decompress and enjoy.

Time for Something Different

I decided to start going through my storage boxes. I reminisced through boxes of journals, slides, travel notes and photos. It was in one of the boxes where I discovered a La Sardina Virginia is for Lovers lomography camera that I bought last year. I never took it out of the box. I never used it. I bought it on a wim and so didn't really care to find the time to use it.
La Sardina toy camera Virginia is for Lovers
La Sardina Virginia is For Lovers. Lomography Toy Camera.

Film Roll Number One: Undaunted Action

I decided it was time to break free with this little toy camera. I loaded a roll of film. I was set. 
Over the first few days of holiday, I constructed "Lomo-worthy" scenes to photograph. I took my time. When I finished the 24-exposures, I was excited to get it processed. Luckily, we have a lab in North Dakota that still processes film, in-house. 1-hour film processing!! Hurray. Bob's Photo in Bismarck. 
It's a 90-miles, (one way), for me to drive to Bismarck. But, it is one of my favorite cities, so I visit there a couple times a month to shop and enjoy. Groceries, petrol, everything is cheaper in Bismarck, away from Bakken boom gouging territory.
I dropped off the film at Bob's and then went shopping. When I returned, they handed me the envelop and said there were no images to print. Being awesome service people, they offered to look at my camera and repair it, if it needed. No need. Toy camera.

Negatives were clear. Creative victory defeated.

I went home and reviewed the manual. What did I do wrong? Load film. Pull out lens. Twist. Turn. Shoot. I decided to try again and loaded film number two.
This time, I was less constructive with my image set up. Nonetheless, I took time taking pictures. Outdoors, I captured the beautiful snow frosted trees. Indoors, I captured pretty Christmas decorations. Each shot I imagined would look awesome with the Lomo effect. A few days later, I had to drive to Bismarck to stock up for Christmas dinner. Bob's Photo was my first stop. Shopping and a few hours later, I returned. Once again, they handed me the envelope, no images. Maybe you need to throw away the toy camera.

Film Roll Number Two: Negatives Clear. Blank. Nada. Nothing.

I was pissed. Even though I got the camera on a discount, I still paid $50 for the thing. I was determined to get this cheap little sardine box to pony up some images. Screw the creative process.
Lomography La Sardina toy camera clear negatives
Why are my negatives clear? Lomography La Sardina Camera

I started search strings: "why are my lomography camera images blank" "negatives clear lomography camera" ...etc.etc.etc.
The official Lomography site offers little insight into such questions, no matter how I formulated the infinite ways. 
I knew it wasn't because I was overexposing or underexposing.
I found this link:
La Sardina for Starters: Remember the Twist and Pull.
So, I decided to trigger the shutter mechanism with a small eyeglass screwdriver. I did the "twist and pull" lens, then triggered the shutter. It wasn't working. I could see that the lens wasn't completely cocked into place.
inside the La Sardina toy camera
Inside the La Sardina camera. The lens is pulled and twisted, but not engaging the shutter.

Looking on the lens of the La Sardina camera. The lens is pulled and twisted, but not engaging the shutter.
I gave the lens a strong sturdy twist...there it was: the lens snapped into place. The shutter triggered.
inside the La Sardina toy camera shutter in proper position
Inside the La Sardina camera. The lens is pulled and twisted. The shutter is engaged.

Looking on the lens of the La Sardina camera. The lens is pulled and twisted. Notice where the silver button aligns with the word "You." The shutter is engaged.

Film Roll Three: Third Time is a Charm

I loaded my third roll of film. "Twist, pull, and firm click into place"
This time, I shot like a three-year-old with her first camera. I shot anything that fancied me. I finished the roll of film in about 15 minutes. I was on my way to Bismarck that day. My first stop was Bob's Photo. This time, I returned to the store in an hour with more determination and anticipation. And, I wasn't disappointed. Success. Crappy images, but I have images!
lomo images suffocation warning
A stack of images from my third attempt with the La Sardina camera.
Now...on to creativity. Evoke the Muse.

Crappy images, but clear negatives.

To be continued...

I'm taking more time with my fourth roll of Lomography film. I can't believe how an unexpected photography challenge turned into a liberating process. I completely unhooked from perfection and worrying about "making" an image. I wanted to "see" an image...literally!  A toy camera and technical conundrum gave me the "different" way to connect to the creative process.

Commitment + Determination = Creativity 

All this from a flippin' sardine can camera!

How do you awaken your hibernating muse?

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