The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Blog writing as a distraction

As I begin to write, it’s half an hour past the appointment, and the anxiety is reaching new levels.

One way of coping with stressful situations, which has worked in the past, is understanding that the worse it is, the better the blog post I might be able to get out of it afterwards (for examples, see – Do You Still Love Me Despite My…? and And I’m Not Looking Forward to the Journey Home).

I know I’m not completely alone in this. I remember acclaimed author, Alan Bennett, once talking about the fact no matter how bad a situation gets, a writer is always mentally taking notes with a mind to how he might expolit it later.

But as I sit here in the dentist’s waiting room, scribbling into the margins of my Sudoku book, I’m finding little comfort or distraction from the anticipation of the imminent treatment.

Scribbles in the Sudoku book

Part of the problem is I no longer define myself as a writer: for the past couple of years I have classified myself as a photographer instead. And this has had a profound effect on the way I see, and interact with, the world around me.

A few years ago, I reached a point where I saw just about everything in terms of blog posts – overheard conversations snippets or behavioural observations of strangers, friends or even myself – any kind of thought process or emotional experience could potentially be reconstructed into 50 to 500 words for Ramblings of The Bearded One.

Now, however, I see everything in the context of how I would frame, light and shoot it with my camera. I am constantly seeing faces, for example, I would love to photograph, and sometimes, rather embarrassingly, get caught staring.

So despite my desperate attempt to distract myself by writing this all down in my Sudoku book, my new reality is I would cope a great deal better right now if I could photograph the process of sitting in the dentist’s chair receiving root canal work in preparation for having a new crown fitted.

Despite the dentist’s light stopping working half way through, and ending up being in the chair for nearly an hour and a half, I have to say I wasn’t in any pain after all. The last time I had root canal work, it was excruciating. Of course after the numbness wore off I was a bit tender, but that was to be expected, and today it’s hardly noticeable.


Ron said...

I look at life in terms of both writing about it and how I can take a picture to capture "The Moment." Unfortunately I cannot always capture "The Moment" with my camera because of privacy concerns and the limited portability of my camera. However, my brain can capture EVERYTHING to write about. I balance the two. I am glad you experienced minimal pain and discomfort during your dental visit. I hope you continue writing and don't give it up in favor of photography. You can do both. Walk and chew gum or something like that.

Anonymous said...

Happy the dental visit went well. Waxing philosophical in the dentist office! That would be a distractant to the coming event and obviously worked quite nicely!

Pat said...

I'm relieved it was bearable. For years I've been boasting my dentist has never hurt me, but last time he did. Boo hoo!

'A writer is always mentally taking notes with a mind to how he might exploit it later.'

Actors have been known to rush to the mirror on hearing devastating news to register the facial expression appearing naturally.

Falak said...

This post is soooo reassuring! I thought I was slowly losing it by thinking about every little happening in my life in terms of blog posts.

Looks like it's a natural reaction :)

Guyana-Gyal said...

I'm still afraid of the dentist even though he's promised zero pain.

You might like John Berger's Ways of seeing.

I've been writing in different places for so long, it's all I want to do, I don't care where. I even dream about writing. Sad, that's moi :-D

Katie Roberts said...

Hi Kim,

I really enjoyed reading the linked stories.. esp the train journey! :)

TalesNTypos said...


I haven't yet read the links but look forward to them later.

Your Extreme Sudoku book looks a bit worried. :P

Glad the anaesthetic worked.


Kim Ayres said...

Ron - I can, and of course do, do both, but the main point I as making is how it affects the way I actually view the world. Like my posts on Narrative, filters and chalk lines - if we change the way we see the world, we change our experiences of it :)

Theane & Baron - it didn't work as well as I wanted it to. All the time I was writing, I was still very aware of the impending treatment

Pat - I don't think I'd heard that about actors, but I can easily imagine it happening. Sorry to hear about your dental pain - it's not just the pain but the stress of future visits, wondering if it will be painful again.

Falak - For a while I was involved in creating cartoon strips, and started seeing everything in terms of 3 frames :)

Guyana-Gyal - dreaming about writing is frustrating. When you are dreaming, you can never read the same sentence twice. So trying to follow instructions, or write down telephone numbers or an interesting idea, always end in failure

Katie - the train journey post is still one of my favourites :)

Adila - my writing is virtually illegible - I struggled to read it back to type it up, and I was the one who wrote it. Most of the time I compose and write on the computer because my hadnwriting is so bad

Ron said...

Point taken KIm. I was sure you could juggle.

nikgee said...

I share your feelings about dentist as I have had several encounters. But I have since remedied this problem removing all my teeth and replacing them with dentures. Although better than the former, it is not without pitfalls. It is what it is. The aging body and youthful neglect.

Guyana-Gyal said...

I like this a whole lot: if we change the way we see the world, we change our experiences of it.

When I say I dream of writing, I meant that sometimes I dream entire stories, plot, characters all. I wake up and scribble down everything in my notebook.

hope said...

I was shocked when my first root canal turned out to be painless and boring. Dentally speaking, I have a small mouth and you get tired.

I've discovered that although I do have those moments of,"Oh man, they'll NEVER believe this!" most of the time it seems my brain likes to find the humor in the most awful things that happen to me. As if writing about it and finding the funny is healing. :)

Hope your mouth feels better soon!

Roschelle said...

great blog post and glad the dentist visit wasn't too bad. i know just what you mean about seeing everything in terms of a blog post. I LIVE FOR "GREAT" MOMENTS and concentrate hard on trying to remember every minute detail until I can get home to bang it out on the computer keyboard.

I started a bit of photography last year. Bought a great camera and all that good stuff. I've kind of stalled on that hobby for now. But there's always tomorrow :)

The Restaurant Manager said...

Very interesting how your perspective changed. I enjoyed your blog! Just found it today and started following!

debra said...

Creativity manifests in so many different ways; it evolves as we change and grow. In all cases, it gives the reader or the viewer an opportunity to have a glimpse of how the creator sees the world. Kind of nice, I think. (o)

Anonymous said...

I work the same way. From the moment I'm able in the morning I write and sketch in my sketchbook. I increasingly find it crucial to make, as you appropriately put "behavioural observations" that way.

Attila The Mom said...

Gah! Dentists!!! :::running away screaming:::

Carole said...

And yet you still write well. The most I can accomplish while waiting for the dentist is a case of diarrhea. It is not nearly as good as a blog post.

Eryl said...

This is fascinating. I document everything with my camera, and never bother with the notebook I still always carry, but as I snap away I am thinking in terms of writing.

Dentist don't know how to cause pain like they used to. I was startled recently when root canal work revealed itself to be less painful than a day's gardening.

Jayne Martin said...

Nora Ephron's mother told her "Everything is copy." She neglected to say whether it made good copy or bad copy. Details...

"A picture is worth a thousand words." Can't recall who said that one, but your photographs always speak volumes to me.

Why do you have to label yourself one thing or another? I would think "artist" would pretty much cover it all nicely.

I think I've had a root canal in every tooth in my mouth. The worst part is the damn Novocain. Glad you came through with such little pain, my friend.

Kim Ayres said...

Nikgee - my sister took that option too. I'm hoping to avoid if for a few more years yet

Guyana-Gyal - of course the famous novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was supposed to have come from a dream she had. My own experience in that area was less successful (see - Not a Mary Shelley Experience

Hope - finding the humour, or the story in something is a way to redefine it, and as such, lessen the awfulness

Roschelle - either carry the camera with you where ever you go, or take a notebook :)

Restaurant Manager - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for taking the time to comment :)

Debra - I think the hope is that creativity can inspire it in others

Allen - I do love your sketches :)

Attila - :)

Carole - well that all depends on whether you made it to the bathroom or not. If not, it would make a superb blog post :)

Eryl - nostlagia for dentists who really knew how to cause pain?

Jayne - it's largely down to having limited energy levels. I only have a certain amount of time each day to be creative. My writing is now good enough for what I need to do with it (write blog posts), but moving forward with my photography is now the journey I am on, so it takes the priority :)

Sandy's witterings said...

Not being a blogger of unduely personal things I don't think of lifes awful bits as interesting blogs but in a similar kind of thing, quite often when I'm out and about, I spot something and think that it'll make a good bit of a blog before I think that's it's interesting just to look at anyway.
Last time I was at the dentist I spent a very worried day for eventually having no pain either.

Sandy's witterings said...

Spotted that you and Maggie both have pictures in Gracefield at the moment.

Kim Ayres said...

Sandy - I do hope you'll pop in at Spring Fling :)

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