Friday, August 29, 2014

How to Eat an Elephant

Photo taken by my mother-in-law, Jean Sibbald, when she was in Kenya last year.

First: DON'T eat elephants! (Also, don't buy ivory.*)

Second: Hypothetically speaking, eating an elephant is a daunting task. Even if you were starving, it would be hard to eat an entire elephant before it started to rot. Today, I'm thinking about this as a metaphor.

A new friend of mine, Shelley Ball of 44th Parallel Photography (who taught the photography workshop I attended last spring), agreed to meet me for lunch so I could talk to her about my desire to do something more with my writing and photography.

What might that "something more" be? I've been bouncing a few ideas around over the past months (almost a year now!):
  • I'm interested in doing an e-book on mental health.
  • I would like to start selling prints/products of my photographs.
  • I would (maybe, some day) like to sell ad space on my blog.
  • I might (maybe, some day) write a fiction book.
My objective is not entirely about generating income (though that would be great), but more about stretching myself, challenging myself, and seeing whether there is interest out there. 

Shelley was a great person for me to talk to. She works full-time, runs her photography business (including exhibits), teaches photography and environmentalism (including leading student expeditions to the arctic!), and has learned a lot along the way. 

She started off by sharing some great resources for printing and publication. Then, as the conversation meandered, she told me the metaphor for this blog post. 

The thing about eating an elephant is: you need to break it down into parts. If you look at the whole thing, you'll feel defeated before you even start. 

It was a very timely and consoling reminder. Rather than jumping into the deep end without having a strategy, I need to break the projects -- which I had not really considered them -- into chunks. Plan which things can and should be deferred. 

I have years of experience with project planning. Yet it hadn't occurred to me to look at my interests in terms of projects. Huh. 

That, my friends, is the real value of having an outside perspective.

So I intend to spend some time over the next couple of weeks doing some strategic thinking: prioritizing, planning, and plotting. Not sure where it'll end up, but I think there is no time like the present.

* P.S. Contrary to my headline, I encourage you to consider supporting the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, an organization that helps rescue orphaned elephants in Kenya. 


  1. Eating elephants... something I battle constantly (metaphorically, not literally) and I now see it in Drew. I used to spend hours crying over how much homework I had to do instead of actually doing it, which made the problem so much worse. I constantly have to remind myself (and now Drew) to tackle one thing at a time and worry about the rest later. When you're a "big picture" kind of person (and a perfectionist to boot) it can be hard not to try to take it all on at once, but I know all too well from experience that it doesn't get you anywhere. You're smart to take the time to break down your aims, then to prioritize them.
    I would very much be interested in photography prints/products of yours. I'm still considering buying one of your calendars because the photos are so beautiful, but I definitely had the thought that I wished you'd get some benefit from my purchase.

    1. Katie does the same thing. Part of my problem, too, is that I get all excited and want to go buy Web domain names! Order prints! Hire a web developer! Book a booth at the craft show! And then I realize I've got too much on the go, and I've spent more money than I have. So I'm hoping that slowing down helps with that.

      I ordered a couple of the calendars myself, for gifts, but I did find them fairly expensive. Would like to find more affordable options. We'll see where I go from here!

      But thanks for the compliment!


What did you think? Any comments?

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...