Thursday, February 25, 2010

hitting the wall - and pushing through

I was wondering when this might happen. Maybe it was all that talk about obstacle courses but 
yesterday I 'hit the wall'. After 24 weeks and 24 suburbs - just shy of half way through this project
- I woke up and realised I had nothing in the tank. I felt completely and utterly devoid of energy
or motivation. Empty. As flat as a pancake - no, that's too buoyant - more like a crepe.

A marathon day on Monday - editing, assembling and posting more images than normal - didn't
help. It finished at 3am. Nor did the realisation that this week was going to be almost impossible
to find the time to do the blog - it was filled with appointments and kids' parties and just stuff,
the normal everyday life stuff I try hard to avoid so I can focus on this project - but sometimes
it's unavoidable and I just need to do it.

I thought about writing to you all yesterday about this wall I've hit - but I thought, nah, too self-absorbed.
Too me me me. But today I thought, bugger it, we're in this together - on this journey - and I reckoned
you could cope with my 'sharing'. 

So, am I about to abandon my project? 24 Suburbs rather than 52? No. NO! No way. I'm not going to
let this temporary glitch undo me. I work-shopped it all last night with good friends and that 
really helped - one of them was my neighbour who sees my light on late most nights, knowing
I'm in my office, chained to the computer, editing photos or whatever. She knows I pour my heart 
and soul into 52 Suburbs - that I LOVE it. But her counsel was wise - 'Of course you've bloody
hit a wall! You've been doing this without a break - fitting in work and looking after a child at the
same time - for almost six months and you need a break!' 

It was the slap of sanity I needed. We all have hard days when our job, paid or not, seems too much
and you just want to escape to an island far away. And really, considering the time and energy
I've spent on this project to date, I guess it's surprising I didn't hit the wall earlier. In fact, until 
yesterday, I was kind of amazed how driven and motivated I was, never needing to rev myself
up, just totally into it and rearing to go.

I could take a break - but I reckon this is the part where I am meant to dig deep and conquer
the inertia. I like a challenge and I'm 100% committed to this project.

So what I've decided to do is keep on course and do my suburb this week - but do a suburb that's 
close. Like really close. One that I've never explored on foot but driven through many times.

Why am I sharing ALL this? Well, two reasons. 

One, I wanted to explain that I remain true to my original purpose - to explore suburbs I've never
even heard of, ones that are generally far from the city centre. But that sometimes - Christmas,
now - life gets in the way and I have two options. To abandon or delay my post or do a suburb
closer to home.

The second reason I'm sharing this essay of thought and feeling with you is this - I don't need 
anyone to fawn over me - but I guess it might help to hear from you that you're still into this 
project - that you still love it - that I can console myself at 2am in the morning when I'm STILL
assembling my diptychs, that I'm not just doing this for myself. Because that's the thing - I may 
have started this project on my own, but pretty soon you joined me - and I really like that. There's
a sense of connection and community about it that I really value. It's not about me, it's about
a project that enables people to celebrate this pretty amazing city we live in. Isn't it?

And just so you know, I feel much better today. I woke up and started researching my suburb of
the week - expecting to feel as flat as I did yesterday - but as soon as I started reading about all
the old buildings and things I've never noticed, I felt some sparkle return. 

So I will be posting on Monday as usual - and I hope to press 'Publish Post' during daylight hours - 
but please forgive if the post is a little leaner than usual.
Okay, enough already. Thanks for listening. I feel better already.


  1. Hang in there and push through!

    It's actually really nice to hear this: it's nice (in a perverse sort of way, I suppose) to know that someone so talented is human!

    I'm struggling to finish my thesis at the moment, and I don't have the audience waiting weekly like you do. So I imagine there's a fair bit of pressure there. But on the upside, you have a little group of supporters egging you on!

    So do what you can, take it easy when you need to, but I'm sure the same energy that compelled you to start this will carry you along during the tough parts.

  2. Hurray! This wonderfully quirky, clever and funny... but oh so interesting, informative and creative Louise... is Human! Hip Hip Hurray! I say! Hip Hip Hurray! I for one am with you all the way.
    P.S. I reckon the weather hasn't helped this week either.
    cheers Pennie

  3. A great post Louise- Must admit that it is nice to hear that you are human like the rest of us.

    We all have times when we want to throw in the towel on a particular project. Just remember that we are all with you on this one and can always double as a suburb guide if you need.

  4. It's ok, we can imagine how much work goes into this every, single week. :)

  5. Hi Louise,

    As Kate said, hang in there! I really love your blog, what you're doing is truly amazing. Really high quality work!! So take all the time you need to refresh and recharge the batteries. Us readers will still be there when you come back ; - )

    And what's wrong with exploring suburbs on your doorstep? I'm sure you'll come up with things you didn't know or had never seen about your own neighborhood.

    Take good care of yourself,

  6. Hi Louise, I totally understand how this could be overwhelming. It's hard enough to make it down the road to the office most days! And the office for me is a short 5 mins walk. Good on you for perservering and for recording our bustling enormous city in a new and interesting way. Looking forward to more when you get you mojo back. No one is going to worry too if you miss a week or two! 52 weeks? Ah so it took 68! No worries!

  7. Hi Louise

    I understand how you feel. Sometimes I too, experience periods where there is just a lack of motivation to do anything blog-related and then there's the ensuing sense of guilt.

    I've been following your incredible blog since the beginning and I loved every moment of it. It doesn't matter whether it's a suburb that we all know or an obscure place - each post is eagerly awaited and enjoyed immensely.

    So don't be too hard on yourself if you ever need a break or slow things down. We'll still be here :)

    Cheers, Karen

  8. Hi,

    I don't think you should feel bad for taking a break. I know lots of people, myself included, love seeing your take on all these amazing Sydney suburbs, but one per week is a pretty tough challenge. I urge you to keep going with the project, but maybe at a slower pace!


  9. As a Yank who loves Sydney but only knows the CBD and a couple of blocks of Annandale, Glebe, or Leichhardt, I'd be devastated if you stop. Ever. I'm hoping that you can pace yourself--I'll be happy to see a new suburb whenever you can give us one. And I'm hoping you won't stop at 52.

  10. Hang on in there. I've never commented on here but I do follow your project and I imagine there are many like me who are behind you.

    This is just a dip in the rollercoaster ride, you're gonna go right back up after this suburb. Chin up ! Head down. Camera on. Hurrah.

  11. I'm waiting for you to do my suburb - in fact I think you should do all the suburbs! :p I think there is a real market for products from your visits once word gets out, I adore reading your entries - maybe you could do 52 in 24 - a suburb a fortnight - I hope you do keep going! xx

  12. How about you give yourself two wildcards for the remainder of the year? Everybody deserves 2 weeks holiday a year. You could keep the cards in reserve, and when you really, really REALLY can't do a week because life got in the way, you pull out the wildcard, refrain from posting for the week, and everybody cuts you some slack? You probably won't use them, preferring to hoard them instead - but just having them in reserve will make you feel a whole lot better...

  13. Take your time - there is no rush. Health and family comes first and the work comes later. I love your blog and I know it has inspired many other people. Pelan-pelan hati-hati.

  14. go easy on yourself! you've taken on quite a challenge and it's ok to take a break. let's be honest - with a child, this isn't the most important thing in your life and you should never let it feel as if it is. oh, and i like the wildcards idea. :)

  15. Louise

    I think you'd be surprised how many people look at your photos and are inspired by them. They are beautiful, well put together with an amazing eye for detail composition and colour

    I regularly post your suburbs on facebook and everyone just loves them, they always find a few people who have missed them before.

    ...and yes sometimes it seems too much : ) I reckon that like every 'job' you need to factor in some down time. A short break/holiday!

    please keep going : )))

  16. take a break if you need to - who cares if it takes you a few more weeks to get through the 52 suburbs?

    We'll all still be here enjoying your great pics!

  17. You could ask people to submit guest posts... I'm sure lots of people would be into pitching in. Then you could go back and do your take on those suburbs if you ever wanted to.

  18. Don't be too hard on yourself! You've been providing so many people such joy with your amazing images. Keep going but don't feel you have to fling yourself to the farthest parts of Sydney when your energy is low. Keep those ones for when things are revving along again!

  19. Dear Louise,

    Thank you for sharing and for being so honest. Blogging can feel isolating and a bit solitary, even though it's about creating and building online communities. It's quite a paradox. I often feel the same way too when I'm having a really bad or a really busy day, but I push myself to post daily. Sometimes I wonder what it's all for, and if anyone else cares, or if people are even reading and looking at my stuff...

    You blog is amazing, and as someone else here said - I hope you don't stop at 52, and that you keep going. So do whatever it takes to make this a sustainable journey, and the one that will suit your pace, so that you may go on for years to come and continue bringing so much joy to your readers. I'm sure so many more stop and admire then would ever bother to comment.

    This reminds me a little of the movie Julie & Julia, when Julie {the food blogger} hits a wall with her blogging/ life. Have you seen it? It's really sweet and so true.

    My best,

  20. Anna in Atlanta, GA, USAFebruary 25, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    1) love the burbs. Sydney is my second city-love, and you find its heart so well.

    2) funny how comments MATTER! will do so more often

    3) take a break if needed. Better 52 suburbs in 60 weeks than 24 in a million.

    Keep finding the beauty.


  21. Wow. Wow. Wow. Yes, lost for words - for once. Just to say I have a slight lump in my throat and a belly of butterflies - the excitement is back! Thanks to you all - the kindest, smartest and most generous bunch of people a blogger girl could ask for.

    x Louise

  22. Another idea - inspired by anonymous at 3.21 - have you thought of setting up a flickr group - or letting someone else set one up for you :-) - especially for readers of this site to contribute their own images of the suburbs you cover? You obviously have a good community here - maybe a place for other people to make their contributions would foster that community even more, and push other people to explore the parts of Sydney you've been getting to?

  23. It's inevitable that you will lose steam every once in a while. Good blogging takes a lot of work and until you've done it you don't realise exactly how much. Don't worry, no-one is going to say "Oh my God, you missed a week, how dare you". We readers still love it. :)

    Honestly, there really aren't enough of these projects about Sydney, considering the size of the place. Melburnians, I feel, are generally better at appreciating and documenting the variety of their city. I love seeing the diversity of my home town truly represented here. Olde Sydney Town doesn't revolve around The Rocks and Bondi, as most guidebooks would have you believe. ;)

    Having said that, it's probably good to try if possible to keep up a rhythm. As another person suggested, when you're low on time/energy do a smaller suburb that's close by and reserve the epic treks for high-energy days.

    Sending good vibes your way. MD

  24. Keep it up! But don't run yourself into the ground doing it. The project is more about the 52 suburbs, not the 52 weeks. So take your time. It's always good to work to a deadline, but not if it cripples you and stops you enjoying it.

  25. You're doing such a great job and it is natural when comitting 150% of your energy into something like this that you would have a crisis along the way. Rest assured I am with you as are many others. You inspire us every week and your post is what I look forward to most about getting to work on Monday morning.

  26. I love this site so much, and it amazes me that you can produce one each week, considering the thought that goes into setting up the diptychs, and the sheer number of photos that you must take! Take a break if you need to; everyone needs to recharge the batteries now and then.

  27. Hi Louise,

    Please push through. It is totally understandable to want to stop.

    Thanks for reaching out to the world of people who have discovered your magical project. I hope you are inspired by the support. What makes this project so incredible is that not only have you gone this far, but the quality has never lapsed.

    Now is the time where the project changes from a nice idea to an enduring and intimate portrait of a city known to many. Please keep going. I love this project and think it easily go viral as people get inspired to discover their own neighbourhoods.


  28. You deserve every success with this inspired and inspiring project but be kind to yourself along the way:)

  29. Dear all
    Honestly, your comments have felt like a set of jumper leads applied to my somewhat flagging battery - I was back out on the beat this afternoon, full of energy and delight at the things I found. Yes, this week is a suburb near home - but just a few hours of looking closely at it has revealed so much unseen detail and beauty - proof again that even the places we think we know, we may not - unless we really look.

    Kate's idea of a flickr group - that idea did race through my mind some time ago - I guess I felt too busy to do it - but I think it's a great idea and I'd love to have people adding their own images to round out the picture. What do people think? Would it be post my post - once I've posted, people know the suburb and contribute?

    I am completely committed to this project - and yes, I'll take a break if I really need to (Wild Card idea is great). But I reckon I can do the 52 suburbs in 52 weeks or pretty close to it.

    I love words but they can't really express how you've all made me feel - wish I could make a diptych to show you!

    Thanks. A lot. I'm good. You good? Good, let's press on.

    x Louise

  30. Louise - I had no idea you were a Mum. I thought you were like me pre kids - all the time in the world to take beautiful photos. In my mind you were tripping around footloose and fancy free - now maybe I think you had a pram with you on occasion ? I have been blogging since 2008 now and there have definitely been times when the mojo has completely disappeared and then come back. We are all only one person doing our best on the diverse fronts we take on day by day. If you need a break - take a break, you'll come back to it all refreshed and better for it. Best wishes Sheila

  31. Hi Louise. I discovered your wondrous blog about a month ago and had been meaning to comment but, as you know only too well, sometimes life gets in the way. Well, after reading this post I could keep quiet no more! You have such a beautiful way of seeing the world and I am inspired every time I visit. Know that your work is admired. And that you're not alone in the struggle to pursue a creative life and keep on top of work and family commitments. The ideas for doing a 'light' suburb and flickr group sound great. Can't wait for the next post. Keep smiling! Sam x

  32. Long time reader, first time poster. Please keep it up! I'm from Brisbane and I wish someone was doing this for my lil city! It's fascinating. But no one will notice if you're a few shy of 52 ;)

  33. Sheila - Yes, I am a mum! My daughter sometimes comes with me after school to re-visit a suburb I want to photograph in late afternoon light. She's a funny, kind, delightful human being whom I adore completely - and she is without a doubt my first priority in life. So I love that she enjoys our outings and is starting to point out interesting things to photograph - warms my heart no end to think of her developing a good eye!

    Thanks to everyone again for your support and encouragement. It's working a treat.

  34. Take a break all time you need, we still LOVE your photos! Best for you from Buenos Aires (Argentina).

  35. Louise, I have been following this blog for just a few weeks really and I've loved it. I have it on my blog roll too. And I've never been to Sydney, I live in Victoria BC Canada, I just love your photos! I don't want the 52 suburbs to end, so my take on it is, take your time, take breaks, break a suburb up into more than one post over more than a week even, whatever. I'd like it if you dragged it out. so relax, enjoy and be kind to yourself. No more deadlines! Just enjoy.

  36. Glad you're feeling's always a joy to see each new post all these thousands of miles away.. 52 is just a number and I for one don't care how long it long as you're still enjoying it! Thanks for all your hard IS appreciated.

  37. One suburb a month would OK with me Louise! It's like an exciting gift arriving in the mail every time I get a 52 suburbs email. I ALWAYS click through immediately, no matter how busy, as I can't wait to see, smell, feel the atmosphere you create with your evocative words and your brilliant eye. Don't be hard on yourself. Just keep doing it. We would all miss it so much if you stopped.

  38. Yeah.
    What if you spread a suburb over a month?
    Drip-feeding us a bit every week.
    We'd still get our fix - just drawn out a bit more.
    Maybe you are trying to pack too much in.

    I'm a bit of an idiot, but I didn't realize until this post, the amount of work that went into your weekly posts.

  39. Nothing wrong with what you have chosen to do - 7/52 is a tough call. And looking closer to home may give you a deeper insight into a suburb that you thought you knew well. Your photos are amazing, so chin up!

  40. Hi Louise, you can take a break whenever you need to - it's YOUR project afterall!

    And I'm quite happy that you do the occassional close to home suburb, because your close-by suburbs are ones that would probably be part of my 52 suburbs project - if I were to be doing one.

    Keep it up, I love it when a new post pops up in my reader!

  41. I love love love what you are doing... you should slow down and find the joy again... but please don't stop...

  42. I get so much out of your blog. I spent my childhood in Sydney (now live in Melbourne) and I rely on your blog to take me back - the colours, places I had totally forgotten about. Take a break here and there to keep you fresh :)

  43. Louise - none of us are going to be concerned if you miss a week or two through this process. We love your blog but it's YOUR blog - do it in your own time and we'll be right here waiting.

    We're all behind you!


  44. Your blog is a high point of my week! I love the way you marry images and patterns and your focus on the everyday, the old and the (usually) unappreciated.

  45. Louise,
    I am a lucky one - I think I found your project back at the second week. I have loved it - blogged about it, posted it on facebook and lived it.
    You have changed the way I look at my own suburb, and the way I view places I visit.

    I love your take on places. Just this week in Liverpool where I travelled to every day from the inner west, so great to see you noticing things I never saw, and photographing shops I loved visiting on a weekly basis for sugared almonds.

    Oh I ramble. But that is what this is, a ramble round our town. I love it and a appreciate your creativity, generosity and unique perspective so so much.

    Push through little monkey!
    From Verity.

  46. Dear all
    Again, back after a day out taking snaps - tired - then I read your lovely words and think of you taking the time to pen your thoughts and I feel lifted and re-energised. Thank you!

  47. So glad you're continuing. I look forward to your post each week, discovering along with you some wonderful gems of our city that I never would have otherwise discovered. Thank you for your wonderful words and images.

  48. You gotta keep going! You never know where this can take you. Personally, I find it inspirational.

  49. Glad you shared. Hope you get a decent break and come back to this amazing project, with fresh eyes :)

  50. I'm glad you are feeling better. Everyone a above has some great suggestions on how to spread yourself a bit thicker. I love your blog. I've never been to Australia before but your blog is one of the reasons my husband and I are moving to Sydney, so thanks! xx

  51. I blame the February heat and humidity, Louise. It's a killer of a month in Sydney, so energy-sapping. So take a well-deserved break and come back when you're ready. I am sure all your fans won't wander off.

  52. Look, either way, it's your project, you do what you want with it. But, just so you know, I was in a suburb I've never been to today and found myself wondering what you'd have seen, what you'd have photographed. You've altered my way of seeing what's around me in my every day and not so every day spaces.

  53. Hey come on, how could I do anything but continue with such AMAZING comments as all of these??!

    And yes, Jamie's right, this month's humidity is a killer - hot and gloopy air - I know Northern H people are thoroughly sick of the cold but this sticky heat is wearing people thin too.

    katiecrackernuts's comment, how I love that - if I influence people to look with different eyes, I'm happy.

    And as I said earlier, I've felt immeasurably better since Thursday, when all this goodness started flowing - so much so I'll be posting tomorrow as usual - THANK YOU ALL!!!!!!

    x Louise

  54. schnook
    now i feel even more guilty - not responding to your questions
    i have had a week from hell too
    52 suburbs is a wonderful gift and soooooo much work
    no wonder you feel exhausted
    but as you can see your audience all love it
    and wait with baited breath
    so...take your time
    circle closer to home
    and be sure to enjoy
    lots of love

  55. Agree take a well earned break or maybe post once every 2 weeks now you've got the loyal following.. Just don't stop posting altogether!!!!



  56. It's quite refreshing to be reading that we are all human and that sometimes we just need a break! It doesn't happen only to myself but to others, who's work is amazing :) Being a father of a 2 year old, I know that sometimes the "life" takes over and becomes overwhelming and sometimes even our deepest passions have to take a short break/back-seat just to come back even stronger! Hang in there, give yourself a break and come back, stronger than ever!

    I love this "essay" on Sydney, having lived there for only 6 years, it's like discovering it all over again, even the areas where I spent most of my time!

  57. Thank you for sharing your amazing project with the rest of the world. I only happened to stumble across this blog last week through the wonders of the net, and I am so thrilled to have found it. As an ex-Sydneysider, now living in Amsterdam and totally missing my hometown, you have captured my full attention with a totally different perspective on the city and shown how beautiful, diverse, colourful and cultural the suburbs can be beyond the glitz and glamour of the harbour (which I could never tire of looking at). Thank you for showing this to the rest of the world so that Sydney can be viewed in the same light as some of these ancient European cities stating how artistically talented and cultural they are. I look forward to the next suburb and many to come after that.

  58. We luv it, we luv you. If you are up to it, we will keep reading.