100 Pieces from 100 Puzzles

Part 8

I was going to be making a coffee table art book. but this was only a general concept. I had the field to play on, but there weren’t any lines, or balls, or for that matter, players.

the photos contained so many different people and locations, what sort of story could I tell? I was afraid that trying to do one continuous story arc might feel forced, or at the very least be hard to follow. maybe it would be better to do something more abstract? even if I went that route, there still needed to be some semblance of form. I could play tennis without a net, but I should at least be playing tennis on a court.

while I pondered this question I continued to spend time with the photos, to write my notes, and to rearrange and reorder. eventually the answer hit me. these were regular photos from regular people all found in one particular county… and THAT was exactly the story that needed to told. I decided each photo would have its only seperate story or poem, with the idea of Kitsap County being the unifying factor. my plan was that the individual pieces, when combine together would create a portrait of the county’s residents.

the creative process is a strange and beautiful thing. I’m a firm believe that the bulk, maybe 95% of making “stuff,” be it art, film, prose or otherwise is putting in the time. day in and day out you have to do the work. sit down at the easel, make the phone calls, stare at a blinking cursor. to use a cliché – “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” it takes time to make creative work and you have to work on it regardless of how “inspired” you feel. but there is that 5% that’s not just grinding away… there are the moments of true inspiration, the sparks that ignite the idea. for me, these often come at the beginning of a project, or when I’ve hit a wall.

I think “Found in Kitsap” is a good mix of this balance between “work” and “inspiration.” the initial find of cameras – inspiration. the pursuit of more – work. spending the time with images – work. the idea to focus on Kitsap County – inspiration. and the idea that would tie it all together? well, that was inspiration too. one night as I sat looking at photos my mind stumbled upon the idea that would unify the photos. I could organize them into an emotional sin-curve. instead of trying to tie the images together with story points or characters, I would create an emotional flow that spanned across all of them.

the collection would start in the evening, descend into the darkness of night, then rise to glory and hope. each photo would need to visually represent both the time from the “day in the life,” and an emotion that corresponded that part of the day. this was the framework I needed to move forward.

armed with the qualifiers of emotion and time of day I started to rearrange the images. if the image appeared to have been taken at a specific time of day that might determine the emotion of the story. and visa versa, if an image elicited a strong emotion that would influence where in the “day” it would be placed. I moving the photos around until I felt I had a completed order. I didn’t worry about making it 100% perfect, since it was in the three-ring binder I knew at any time I could tweak it.

with the photos in place I began to jot down ideas for the stories on each photo. the further I went down this road, the more confident I became. it seemed like the emotional arc just might work. eventually I had notes on nearly every page. this was a fairly lengthy process. I can’t exactly remember how long I spent on it, but I image it was a fews months. finally I decided that it was time to write. I took sheets of blank paper and placed them in between each image. these acted as facing pages for each photo – and would be where I would hand write the stories and poems.


looking back, it’s kind of funny because the actual “writing” of the 100 stories & poems is one of the least interesting parts of the journey. I simply did the work. day in, and day out.

for the next month, every day I would write three stories. if I finished in a half hour, great. if it took me two hours, okay. the important thing was that I made progress toward finishing. I bounced around, trying to pick between stories I knew all the way through and those I had yet to discover. some flowed out like they were already written, others had to dragged kicking and screaming from my mind. but regardless, every day there were three new ones to write.

the binder began to fill up 3, 6, 9, 18, 33, 66, 81, 99… and then all of a sudden I was finished. I took a couple days off and relaxed. then I begin to type up the stories and poems. once completed I printed out three copies. again, using entire ink cartridges for each. the pages were punched and added to binders. I now had the first mock-ups of “Found in Kitsap.” it was time to share the project. the first copies of the book, along with a little questioner were given to a few close friends.

I was hoping to get answers in a few specific areas, but moreover I was nervous… I had no idea if this experiment would work, but I know I needed feedback before moving forward. read about it in part 9, “Feedback & Next Steps.