Photographing the Range

These photographs were taken a few years back in the Tall Grass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas. It was late autumn, which probably isn’t the ideal time for nature photography (it certainly wasn’t the ideal time for camping–it’s hard to light a fire when the wind blows through your campsite at 30-some miles per hour).  Still, there’s a sense of vastness to the place that is difficult to describe unless you’re standing there looking at the horizon in all directions. Hiking around the preserve gave me a lot of inspiration for one of my stories.

A year after these photos were taken, the Nature Conservancy introduced a herd of buffalo that (I believe) still runs about the place. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of them.

(Click to Enlarge)

It might not look like it from this photo, but the Flint Hills actually are hills.

*The* Little House on the Prairie. Nah, I kid. But it is an old one-room school.

Close up of Big bluestem, or Prairie Tallgrass. This stuff used to cover most of North America, but most of it was plowed under for farmland.

Hey! Found a couple of trees!

Overhaul! Or: Writing Advice, This Blog, and What the Hell Happened to Me

Yes–I am still alive, something you may not have been aware of given that I also changed my Twitter identity. I could offer excuses, but the truth is that I just hate blogging.

Well, really I just hate doing it on a schedule. Staying up late trying to think of something worth blogging, squeezing posts in on my lunch break or before work. It just wasn’t for me. But that brings me to my next point: On the Rocks is changing. Most importantly, you may have noticed that the address has changed. Now you can find my rambling half-coherencies at www.robertlay.net.

Secondly, it’s no longer being called “On the Rocks.” Now it’s just my website. To have my way with. Call that what you will.

Thirdly, the About Me page now features my actual photo (complete with beard!) and is actually about me rather than being about some unknown novelist behind a weird pseudonym. Those of you following me on Twitter will have noted this change as well.

Lastly, the content is going to change. This started as a writing blog. If you follow writing blogs, you know they’re about three things: original work, self promotion, and dispensing advice. I don’t work quickly enough to provide you with original stuff worth reading. I have nothing for sale, thus nothing to promote. And I have no advice to give. I have actually found writing advice to be he most detrimental aspect of my writing so far. If you aspire to write, you will find that half of the advice out there contradicts the other half.

Now, I don’t want to knock all the other writers out there giving out advice, because it’s pretty much the only way we can help each other without spending all day reading each other’s manuscripts. But the truth is this: what works for some people doesn’t necessarily work for others. Write what you know, do your best, and maybe you’ll get lucky. It does happen. If you spend all your time worried about the number of adjectives you’ve used or whether your dialog moves the story, you’ll never finish anything.

As for the original content, I am still writing. But now I’m doing it for me, which I should have been doing all along. It’s a hobby, not my job. If somebody pays me to do it, then it becomes my job. Until then, if I’d rather watch a Law and Order marathon or play Modern Warfare 3, I damn well will.

Which brings me back to my point: what will happen to this tiny speck of cyberspace that now bears my legal name. In short: whatever I want. My Twitter followers and Facebook friends know that I post a lot of photos these days. Those’ll probably show up here and on my Tumblr. Maybe I drop in now and then to be a smart ass about something. Who knows? But I wouldn’t expect anything like a regular schedule. If you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to hang around, say hello, use the comment space to question my taste in hats. You know, whatever.

So welcome to the new robertlay.net, and thanks for reading.

R