Mid-Winter Make-over

"I may be broke tonight but I got plans"--Red Clay Ramblers

I want to do what I love and get paid for it. How novel and crazy a notion is that?

But that imagined outcome will require changes–some minor, some major, and most sooner rather than later in an economy where everybody wants it for free.

Might be, I’ll be content not to do any more than I’ve done the past couple of years with the little biz, Goose Creek Press–which is break-even after travel and turning some little bit back into software, photo-printer paper and ink, and camera or computer upgrades of minor sorts.

It’s time for a shifting of gears, a re-structuring of the way I see myself. [It is spring, after all, or almost so, and this rethink tends to happen when the sap rises.] I have paid my dues. I’ve given away many thousands of dollars of free images, talks, and column inches. I’ve demonstrated my ability to meet deadlines, create with effective focus on topic, and have shown I’m here for the long game (we’ll leave the actuarial facts out of this for now.)

I’m not expecting much: max, maybe the $14k I can make on Social Security without changing my tax status. More than that is fine, too, especially if it is part of a trend toward a new income stream to replace the part-time physical therapy income I got used after returning to that former profession in 2005.

To pull this off, I need to take myself seriously as writer, blogger, photographer, teacher and speaker. (Click to enlarge mind map) I need to ask for what I think my time and my work is worth. I need to think outside the tiny box of Floyd. I need to revamp my web presence (with help: anyone?) and completely re-tool how I think about and use social media. I might need to consider the gallery space I was recently offered and invest in a variety of items for sale besides photographs, including an audio CD, a third book, more note cards and other Blue Ridge Landscape-focused images.

And I need to consider the possibilities for speaking–with and without the digital imagery for support, but more often with–to address nature deficit disorder, to explore that too-often-unappreciated natural history of the Southern Mountains, to explore sense of place and geography of the heart, and to share what I know of the photo-essay and the esthetics of light.

Granted, the odds are stacked against me in this, even at full strength and drive. Push will surely come to shove it. The weeks out of commission with the hand surgery in April may leave me charging at the gates to sprint ahead when recovery is complete, or overwhelmed, defeated and without the vision of possibility I have now.

If you’ve gotten this far in my little pep talk, you might be one of the few I need to kick my butt and hold me accountable. I used to count on my reader-friends to talk me out of things or insist I persevere in them. But that was then. I’ll at least use the blog to store quasi-private internal discussions like this, to come back to from time to time, to find the beginning of the thread–that either unravels into an endless tangle, or marks the beginning–like the first week of this blog almost nine years ago–of a life-changing new way of talking to myself.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, I can empathize with your muse.

    The first thing you could do is start a Facebook Page for Goose Creek Press. It’s pretty quick and easy.

    You might look into buying your name as a .com.

    But your real work will be in getting the Goose Creek Press website rebuilt and hosted somewhere.

    Give me a hollar if you need a sounding board. I can’t tell you how to make money at this online stuff, but I can help with the mechanics a bit.

  2. I can’t advise at all with web based stuff, but the offer of gallery space sounds very good to me, if it has tourist foot traffic. Your books, photos, gift cards (calendars, too) should have great visual appeal to visitors!! I know I couldn’t resist buying a Blue Ridge photography book on my first trip through your area. I couldn’t get enough of the beauty of the place.
    Joining in the group that’s fired up about nature deficit disorder, and working your contributions into the mix, that sounds very promising, too. As you said, with depression becoming the next recognized epidemin, there should be a need for folks like you to educate us. Lots of hospitals have helpful lecture series for folks who get on their mailing list. (It’s a marketing ploy.)