Friday, April 16, 2010


Dear Reader,

Spring has arrived and with it the sense of renewal everyone's so fond of talking about. I'm a winter person myself. I can't say exactly why. Maybe I enjoy the long, dreaming slumber and the imagining of possibilities before the hard work of manifesting them. It probably would take a psychologist (or maybe a philosopher) to sort out the truth. Still, with all of that said, I'm not totally adverse to the whole renewal, re-growth, and reinvention thing. It would be difficult to be a writer while sticking strictly to imagining your stories without ever revising them and revision is impossible so I embrace the season's growth even if I don't look forward to the mosquitoes.

A few days ago, in the spirit I mentioned, I ventured into the deepest recesses of my closet and brought out a relic. Probably twenty years ago I bought a Canon TL QL 35mm camera from a coworker. It was, at that time, ten years old and had seen many of life's rough patches. I like to imagine it'd ventured across the ocean to Viet Nam where some soldier or civilian used it to document the conflagration that had set fire to east and west. I like thinking that because it helps the winter side of me justify holding on to a thirty-plus year old camera that I haven't used in at least ten years. The writer in me likes believing the story because it's got a romance about it and might make the backbone of a short story if properly parsed. The realistic side of me has to admit that, knowing the guy I bought the camera from, it's unlikely the Canon ever saw anything more daring than taking pictures of buddies water skiing and drinking beer.

None the less, I drug out the battered leather case and pulled out the heavy camera for a dusting off and refurbishing. The batteries were long-since dead and a couple of them had puked their acidic guts up, corroding the battery terminals and requiring a baking soda scrubbing. I had to order a battery for the camera's onboard light meter - shipped from some distant port that the camera itself may or may not have visited. And in the end I found that the light meter which I'd went to the trouble of ordering that battery to power, no longer functions. I debated purchasing an external light meter to replace the onboard one - but then I thought. This is a thirty year old camera. I put all the camera components back in their boxes and stowed them away again. There is a time when renewal fails.

One great thing about writing is that renewal need never meet mechanical failure. Words don't corrode and if they don't work, a bit of mental gymnastics usually will accomplish the necessary repairs. This is something I'm discovering as I go through the first round of edits for Time of Death. Some of the words I stored inside the story have gotten tarnished or failed but they can be renewed and refurbished.

1 comment:

RAM said...

You don't need a meter. I get good results with my TL-QL using Sunny 16 to gauge exposure. Also, indoors with flash, a meter is not used anyhow.

I mostly use this with a Canon macro lens, the FL 50mm/3.5, that has a little fungus and a ding on the rim (it and the camera fell in a parking lot). Great results despite all.