Any body else writing a novel?

I have been working on a secret project (which will not be so secret after this article) that expands on an event that occurred in 2018 and probably ties into my experience as the Senior Editor (book reviewer) for PhotoBook Journal; I have been writing a fictional novel. Something that I have developing over the past three months, so it was a surprise to me when Rudy Vega, a friend and book reviewer for PBJ (we just published his review of Catherine Opie‘s retrospective) mentioned to me that he was working on a novel. Which had me wondering, how many other artists and photographers find themselves inspired to write a novel?

For me, this seems to be an obvious evolution of writing over 500 book reviews for the past twelve years in conjunction with self-publishing my artist books; to develop word pictures versus visual pictures to create a narrative. I have to give credit to a couple of my PBJ copy editors to help tighten my grammar over the past three or four years; the transition from engineer-speak to something a little more articulate.

Okay, you ask: what type of novel am I writing? (& why that?); it’s a murder/mystery, a fictional-novel (is that redundant?) that stems from what I found in 2018 in the local county park. The location name has been slightly morphed, but essentially after the local sheriffs checked out what I found with their cadaver dogs, I soon realized what it was I had found. Nevertheless, this ‘grave’ event gave me the germ of an idea of creating a fictional visual story about what could have occurred in this place. Similar idea for my two artist books that are semi-fictional stories about what might have occurred with my family. Real places, real events, but then mash these up with a little dark fantasy.

So over the last couple of years, I continued to develop my mystery artist book, coming up with what I thought was a really, really good idea for a book design. Then the book printer I had discussed the design with went belly-up during the pandemic. Bummer. I think that this book still has potential while I need to work on other pressing projects and series related to anxiety. Nevertheless, the idea for my story was still simmering, so in an attempt to figure out how to finish the visual narrative, I started to story-board it with a written outline. And I kept writing more about the outline. And adding more details. And I kept thinking about potential dialogs. So I would write those details in as well.

And I am now coming up on 20 pages, single spaced, with an intro, outline of the body and two alternative closings, one that I like better than the other. I did not set out to write a novel, but one is morphing out of my creative practice of journaling about my projects. Who knew? I don’t have any deadlines, but as I am inspired to include more details in this story, I open the Word doc and add that content, which seems to inspire more details, dialog and narrative structure. Maybe one day I will need a book agent to pitch it to a publisher. And finish that related mystery book project!

So what about you; anyone else writing a novel??



Trabuco Flats series (#090607) copyright Douglas Stockdale 2018.



Developing a Creative Photo Book, a virtual (Zoom) workshop I will be leading again in conjunction with Medium Photo, September 11th, 12th, 18th, & 19th, New dates: March 5 – 6, 12 – 13, 2022 More details and sign-up available now at Medium Photo. New Dates!

New Book Workshop added: I will be leading a Creative Photo Book workshop with the Southeast Center of Photography (SEC4P) later in the Fall of this year. This will be a virtual event (Zoom); November 6 & 7th and 13 & 14th, 2021, 10 AM – 1 PM, EDT (3 hour session each day, with a week between the weekend sessions to work your book-dummy). Registration is now open, and there is a SEC4P membership discount. Just advised that it is half-way sold out. Let me know if you have any questions!



4 thoughts on “Any body else writing a novel?

Add yours

  1. I, too, am working on a novel, Douglas. It is secret, indeed.
    I am so happy to hear you are writing. I have a colleague who is a publisher: Steven Booth at Genius Books. He is on FB and IG. If you check in with him, tell him Jody sent you:)

  2. I was very interested in that photo mystery you were working on. Neat that you are going in verbal direction with it, too. A year and a half ago I started trying to turn an unfinished novel into an illustrated photgrafic one. But the composite images have now taken over completely and want their own nonverbal life. My current direction I guess. My photograficnovel The Water Bride, out earlier this year, had a lot more words before I found the right ‘voice’ for her. You use just what it takes to tell the story.

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