This morning I made another digital story about winter. It’s called “No More Mrs. Nice Winter”, and although I can’t embed it here, you can just follow that link. Here’s a sample image from it, also linked:
I’ve been using Cowbird to tell these stories for a while now (examples), and I wanted to reflect on the experience.
Practically, these little multimedia narratives occur to me as I do things on our homestead. While I’m chopping wood, building a stone wall, weeding, hauling tree limbs, etc., I’m sometimes moved by images. Alan Levine has patiently taught me to pay attention to what I see, looking for interesting sights (check out his astonishing photos). Most of the time I do this without a camera, since, unlike most humans, I don’t have cell phone reception at home and hence don’t carry the phone with me at all times. When I see something that clicks for me I run inside, grab the Samsung, and race back to capture. Once that happens, I end up taking other photos.
At the same time words bubble up in my brain. Phrases try to capture what I felt and saw. Then I push them together, looking for a narrative arc. I don’t want to create an impression of something static, but something changing, something under pressure or evolving. I look for the process, not the point.
Then over to Cowbird, which I commend to everyone. It’s a dead-easy storytelling tool. Just upload some images, type, and you’ve got a draft. Editing is easier still. It’s a bit like PowerPoint in its simplicity for production. But I also admire the output. Cowbird presents images in a lush, immersive way. They make my photos look better, which they need! And it’s a Vermont project.
Above all I want to practice what I preach. I’ve been writing, teaching, and talking about digital storytelling for more than a decade (gulp), and it’s foolish not to actually do the stuff.
Occasionally I move my story-mind away from the homestead. The impetus for doing so is similar: images that strike me, language surfacing to describe it, a narrative glimmering at the bottom. For example, this bit about two St. Louis sites came about from being gobsmacked by vistas, then hammered by historical brooding. I should do more of this, but folks do like hearing about our Vermont homestead.
What do you think of this practice? Anything else I should be doing with digital stories?