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Newsletter on the way. Join now. It’s free.


Finally! At long last I am working on the With Pen and Camera Newsletter. It’s due out by the end of this month. If you would like to see a copy, just go to the Newsletter tab above and complete the form.

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It was the night before Christmas and was the first one I had not spent with my family. Instead I had been rostered on as Fire Picket on my Royal Air Force station. A fellow airman and I had been granted leave to go to the cinema in the nearby village and as we returned to camp along a country lane the frost was the hardest I had ever known. The silence was intense, broken only by the heels of our boots. Above, the stars sparkled in the clear sky. It was the Christmas Eve of fiction. And it was cold. Even with the collar of my greatcoat turned up the tops of my ears were burning with the cold.

We had stopped talking, each in his private world. I was thinking of my family — they would soon be getting ready to go to midnight communion. But, then my thoughts changed. Here I was in the depths of the country rather than in busy London and the silence and the stars seemed to suggest a world waiting for a momentous event.

And, of course, the world waits for that event every Christmas Eve but, sadly, the event has been downgraded year after year so that in each succeeding year the effect becomes less and less. Peace on earth and goodwill to all men cannot compete with personal greed and winning at all cost.

And, we are the losers no matter how many possessions we gain.

I wish I could walk up that country lane again as I did all those years ago and remember the feelings that were engendered then. I wish I could remember the beliefs and aspirations I had in those far off days of youth.

Maybe I should put my mind to it and perhaps I will feel again the thrill of the momentous event that we celebrate every year. And perhaps I shall recall what life is really about.

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Words of Hope

The following was written by my sister as she battled with a seemingly hopeless situation. I, and I suspect many of you, know this situation only too well. I thought my sister’s words were very well put and worth being seen by a wider audience rather than being hidden on the hard drive of her computer.


Emerging slowly from the painful hell of hopelessness,
Each step requiring an intensity, a concentration
Of effort almost beyond the bounds of possibility
Until one’s mind screams from the forced necessity
Of saying, “Yes I can, I will, I’m going to believe in me”.

There is another life to live, another year to run.
There will be friends to greet and laughter still.
It will get easier, I know it must.
Exist for now, that is enough.

Register the sun, the flowers, the birds,
And one day you will find
They’ve warmed your soul
Enough to feel, to love, to hurt again.

©Susan Wood

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A Dream for 2014 or is it a Goal

As 2013 drops from sight and 2014 looms large on the horizon my thoughts turn inevitably to the future as no doubt do yours. The major problem I find is separating the well meant from the achievable. Resolutions that are simply nice wishes fade too quickly from my mind. What I need is something that will stretch me for the next twelve months, that will challenge me, that will constantly be in the forefront of my thoughts and not a wish that is less than a memory by the end of January. What I need is something that I will be able to review at this time next year and, hopefully, be able to say, “I did it!”.

What I need is a goal, not just a New Year resolution. And, if you are feeling anything like me and especially if you are in any sort of business, this is a great time of the year to review the goals you have already established (you do have goals, don’t you?) and consider whether they need to be adjusted or even replaced. And when you have done that, write down the new goals together with a target date for achieving them as a starting point. As these goals become fixed in your head you can then begin adding the steps needed to bring them to fruition. Establish review points through the year when you can adjust the goals according to their current situation.

I found an appropriate quote on Pinterest the other day by Harvey Mackay which read, “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”

That is how it seems to me. What do you think?

May I wish you a happy, healthy and, hopefully, a prosperous New Year.

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Thank you Nicholas Littlemore

The other day I happened to pick a book on photography off my bookshelf as I wanted something to browse through as I had my coffee and out of it fell a card. In it was written , “To Mr Bigwood. Thank you for all your help and encouragement with photography. We will miss you. Good luck. Nicholas Littlemore”

Nicholas was a student at Barker College in Sydney when I was the Publications Officer and in charge of the College Photography Society.

Of all the testimonials I have received over the years, being reminded of this one all these years later is one of the most moving. Thank you Nicholas, wherever you are, and all the other students who made my job most rewarding in the darkroom on a Friday afternoon.

May you all have succeeded in your chosen lives.

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Procrastination is a Curse

Procrastination is a curse. I always have good intentions when I start something but I find it so easy to be sidetracked, to be shunted into a siding where something more interesting than the project I had in mind seems to be lurking. It rarely is, of course, but by the time I find out I’ve wasted an hour or so.

It has been happening like this as I start work on another photography e-book so as a defence against that terrible p word I am trying something new. I’m telling anyone who bothers to read this that I am aiming to have this next e-book ready for sale by 15 November and the one after (yes, my mind, for a change, has been busy coming up with ideas) by the end of November. That will do for now. I won’t get carried away as already the doubts are making themselves felt and I’m tempted to delete this entirely and go back to being shunted into that siding.

What is that saying? The road to where is paved with what?

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I am a Writer and a Photographer, but . . .

That question I set myself yesterday should have been asked long ago. It set me thinking, considering, researching, pondering, — whatever you want to call the process of self-criticism. And, after 24 hours of this, including at 2am today, I have finally realised that my problem is that I am totally disorganised. I wander from writing to photography willy-nilly. There is no plan. There is no goal. There is no discipline. There is too much flying by the seat of my pants, too much diversification.

Now, don’t get me wrong, diversification is important but diversification with no written goal can be disastrous, eating up time and money at a great rate.

And, that is what I have been doing more and more of lately. I know the importance of having a written goal but have I written one? No! Why? Because I thought I could get away with it. And, the result? I am dissatisfied with my performance, at my lack of achievement, at my lack of progress. What a clown!

So, back to my question. Am I a writer and photographer or am I one or the other? And, as a rider to that question, what do I do whichever one I choose?

I cannot give up either writing or photography so that is the first part answered fairly easily. The rider is just that little bit harder as it is going to take much of what has been lacking in my approach to my business life. First I have to write down my goals which must be realistic and achievable but will require some concentrated effort. In other words they cannot be too easy but, equally, they must not be out of reach.

Second, I need to set myself a schedule, a written schedule which will give me something to stick to unless unusual circumstances intervene. I need to have a timetable just like I had at school. But, I also have to have the discipline to stick to that timetable. For instance, I will write from 10am to 12-30pm each weekday and concentrate on my photography in the afternoons.

Third, before I chase after my latest brainstorm I will seriously assess the pros and the cons.

Fourth, re-assess my written goals every three months to ensure that they are still realistic and to amend them if they are not. This will also give me an idea as to whether my performance has been good, bad or indifferent.

That is my job today. To decide on a goal and write it down and to enter the timetable into my computer’s Outlook program. Wish me luck!

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‘Writer and Photographer’ or ‘Writer or Photographer’?

My business card designates me a ‘writer and photographer’. That’s OK, that is what I am. But, there’s a catch to having two strings to my bow. How much time do I spend on my photography — making pictures, uploading them to my computer, processing them, sending them off to photo libraries — and how much time do I dedicate to my writing?

Now, don’t get me wrong, having the two abilities has helped me sell a good many articles. Of the hundreds of articles I have had published I can only think of a handful that sold without my photographs accompanying them. Equally, the number of photographs that have sold without my words is very, very small.

So, what am I complaining about? It’s not so much a complaint rather than a dilemma that I am facing. As the magazine market, especially in that part where I used to sell most of my articles, struggles with its identity in this digital age it is getting harder to make the all important sale. For example, a photography magazine for which I wrote regularly has merged with another from the publisher’s stable which immediately had the effect of twice as many writers competing for half the space.

And photographs that used to sell through my library for three figure sums now are fetching low two figure amounts.

I have started writing short non-fiction e-books which are selling but at very low prices.

The time has come for me to really take stock of where my creativity needs to take me. Which is why I am asking myself how I split my time between my writing and my photography.

You see, I do enjoy my photography but its returns are minute and I would like to have a go at fiction but that doesn’t include photography. I can hear my friends and family muttering ‘marketing’ which they know I am not good at. Maybe they are right. Maybe I shall have to find out!

There is, of course, no one answer and what suits me may not suit you. It is something that I, and probably many like me, will have to grapple with and our results are likely to be quite different.

I’ll try to let you know where I end up.