My interview with photographer and author Johnny Joo

A great interview from “Rust Belt Girl”. Film photography, writing, and spooky stuff all rolled into one artist’s work? Count me in!

Rust Belt Girl

I’m so thrilled to present this interview with Johnny Joo, a fellow Northeast Ohio native, whose photography* I’ve featured at the blog before. But this time, we get the stories behind the lens…

Johnny Joo is an internationally accredited artist, most notably recognized for his photography of abandoned architecture and surrealistic digital compositions. Growing up sandwiched between the urban cityscape of Cleveland and boundless fields of rural Northeast Ohio provided Johnny with a front row ticket to a specialized cycle of abandonment, destruction, and nature’s reclamation of countless structures. Since he started, his art has expanded, including the publication of four books, music, spoken word poetry, art installations, and videography.

Johnny, how did you first get into photography–and abandonment photography in particular?

I was an art student in high school, and photography was another art class I could take, so I took it to fill space with as much…

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Summer Fun on Cape Cod 2019

Here’s a selection of photos from my summer vacation back in August.

These were taken in Cape Cod, Massachusetts in Hyannis and on Mayflower Beach.

I used my Pentax KM along with some FujiFilm C200 and a “new” el-cheapo Vivitar 50:1.8 lens.

As a bonus, you also get “lamp in sky” which is my very first accidental double exposure using film. I had to fix my shutter and this happy accident (as Bob Ross would say) occurred. I think it looks pretty cool, and it’s the kind of thing that can only happy organically on film. I’m also keen on the odd chemical aberration that happened from the pic riding across the Bourne bridge.

Also of note: when your subject is seagulls, Wheat Thins are an effective form of payment to encourage them on the shoot.

Overcoming Self-Doubt & Imposter Syndrome

What I know (2)

I have struggled with serious writer’s block this year.

I’m not unique. I get that. At some point, it happens to nearly everyone who makes creative writing a serious undertaking.

This time felt different though. More severe, and a bit insidious.

I’ve written before about my struggles with my fantasy novel. I’m neck-deep in a 2nd draft/nearly full re-write, and the story will come out the other side looking nearly nothing like the 1st draft. Again, this is a relatively normal process, and lots of authors deal with that grind.

Somewhere along the way though, self-doubt started to creep in. Like a tiny seed sprouting and taking root in the deepest recesses of my brain, it grew under the right conditions (busy schedule, life changes, competing priorities) until it had flowered into what the French refer to as “Le Syndrome de Imposter” (not an actual translation) or, “Imposter Syndrome”. Honestly, no amount of writing podcasts or blogs can prepare you for that crippling self-doubt when it actually arrives. At least I was totally unprepared…

What the Internet didn’t tell me is that self-doubt doesn’t have to manifest as some sort of easily categorized fear. It’s not like you’ll panic, slam your laptop shut , and go curl up in the bathroom, when you see threads on Twitter asking to update on your current project. In fact, the cacophony of social media is a very comfortable place to hide, procrastinate, and “water the flower” so to speak. More on that later though.

My self-doubt manifested as apathy more than anything. Even with encouragement and responsibility to my writer’s group, every scene and chapter was a massive slog. I spent the better part of 2019 doing everything I could to avoid writing and I didn’t know why. It finally took some serious self-reflection and understanding of what the root of my insecurities were to address it and get back to really dissecting and writing my book.

I want to provide some advice in this post, rather than just anecdotally bemoaning my position, so here are some things that worked for me to start regularly putting words on the page again.

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4 Signs You’re No Longer A Beginning Writer

Another great blog post from KM Allan. These points are really true and definitely come with experience.

K.M. Allan

When you decide to be a writer, you’ve got to start somewhere.

That somewhere usually includes a place where you have no idea what you’re doing, hate everything you write, don’t feel as if you’re a writer—let alone a good one, and someone who feels like it’s a constant struggle to even get words down on the page.

When you’ve been writing for a while, have completed a few manuscripts, queried, had short stories win prizes, poetry published or signed a publishing contract… you still think and feel all these things. The difference is you know what to do about them.

4 Signs You’re No Longer A Beginning Writer

You Know You Have To Fix Things

Hands up if you sent your first queries off with an MS that was pretty much there, but you knew still needed work. You may have figured the agent

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What To Blog About If You’re Not Published

Some great tips from published Y.A. author K.M. Allan. These are specific to author/bloggers (a bit of a niche) but still extremely useful. Unpublished writers are urged to “build a platform”, but it can be hard to come up with content ideas when you lack the authority of previous publication. These are all great content topics she’s listed. I say that because many of them are the type of content I posted myself here on Suburban Syntax prior to becoming published myself. The system works!

K.M. Allan

While June might remind us were already halfway through another year, it is also this blog’s blogiversary month!

I published my first post in June 2017. That kicked off the 117 posts I’ve published since.

I launched my blog to extend my writer platform. I’d already begun querying agents and publishers and had been rejected, but was still two years away from signing the small press contract I was offered in January 2019. I wasn’t published anywhere and didn’t have a book out to plug.

So what does a writer who isn’t published write about?

Writing, of course! My first post was titled Just Start, which was, and still is, a life motto of mine.

While I’m still another 6 months away from being officially published (the first book in my YA series, Blackbirch, is coming early 2020), I’ll continue to practice what I preach and blog about…

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