Today is a bit of a special day. Today sees the commencement of September 2013 and with this the Pictonaut Challenge enters its 25th month. It is now 2 years old. The enormity of that fact still hasn’t quite sunk in. The original idea was something of a fleeting fancy, a passing idea, something I thought I’d give a bash and see where it went. My readership remains tiny and close-knit but I have accomplished considerably more than I originally intended. For two whole years I have kept this little exercise going and for a man who has a singular lack of motivation or perseverance this is a rare and truly beautiful achievement. It also shockingly means I have something that could be referred to as “a body of work.” That on its own is a terrifying thing to realise. A thousand words? Every month? For two years? I’m quite proud of myself.
Since I am a scientist by profession and trade I can’t help but be drawn to the statistics of this little endeavour. And even just a cursory glance at them boggles the mind. The 24 stories (or wordascopes as I have taken to calling them) which I have written come to a total of just over 28,800 words, an average of about 1200 every month.
But of course I haven’t been alone in grappling with this particular challenge, others have joined in too. Our combined efforts have spawned a total of 71 short stories. Based on my average output this places the total cumulative wordcount at around the 85,000 mark. Just let that sink in for a moment. Eighty. Five. Thousand. That is an achievement not to be sniffed at.
So what image have I chosen to usher us into our second year? Behold The Crone!
When choosing this month’s image I couldn’t help but think of how it all started. A single, heart-wrenching picture of a young woman’s face. I wanted something in a similar vein. A picture that spoke to me in the same evocative way. In recent days the horrors of Syria have loomed large in our collective consciousness, as once again the west girds itself to plunge headlong and unthinkingly into war. It reminds us that the world is not a fair or safe place. That we are beset on all sides by danger, death, misery, inequity and wickedness. Yet somehow we find that tiny glimmer of hope, hiding in the dark. A hope that somehow lets us get on with our lives and keep on going.
The image itself isn’t from Syria specifically, but from Yemen and the anti-government protests of mid 2011. It’s an Associated Press photo taken by Muhammed Muheisen. It’s a face that has seen things and weathered the storm of life. And those eyes, so eerily blue, so piercing.
The task as ever, is a simple one. A single month, a short story and a thousand words.
Good luck and godspeed.