The following is an unedited, stream-of-consciousness personal journal used to experiment with different subjects outside of assignments and to practice free-writing. It shouldn't (at all) be viewed as a portfolio of polished work.

To see examples of my professional writing, please visit For photography, please visit or my Instagram channel @ginabegin.

412 Words on Not Being Brilliant

Every morning I'm surrounded by windows framing a sky. Minute by minute, a layer of blue is lifted until a starless, aqua color remains. Sometimes I'm conscious that time is passing. I can hear the day beginning for others; street noise growing as the sky lightens.

Other times, I don't see or hear anything—I'm buried in words.

I wish every day were the latter.

Man, if only I were brilliant: a fast writer with a quick wit and the power to command ideas to spill onto the page. But I'm slow. I edit as I go along—a sin for writers—and even when I love a topic, I find my progress comes with a halting pace, constantly stopping short in a search for more words.

Get me talking about a subject and I can go on and on if I really care about it. But this one-way conversation thing is difficult. There is no injection of opposing views, no alternate perspectives to ramble over, not even a nod of a head of "mmhmm" to remind me that I'm talking to others.

Writers often do best in solitary, in those early morning hours when no one is there to interrupt. But I wonder how they keep the ideas flowing. I wonder why other writers produce constant brilliance when it takes me hours to wrap up one post, or days to finish one article.

And, though the numbers are probably less, there are still many writers who have the ability to dive deep into a subject, while I feel a lot of what I write is just surface. Fluff. Internet filler.


This blog sat untouched for a number of months at a time. True, I was too busy for it, but in another aspect, I was also worried about what I was putting into the world. I was worried about being part of the crowd that produces unceasing clickbait content and publishing thoughts that didn't affect anyone's day.

Maybe that's just me, but I wanted—no: I want—to produce something deeper.

And now the windows are framing the sun, just rising over the mountain next to me. Logging trucks are downshifting, their engines straining noisily to keep up speed on the uphill. The neighbors are piling kids into their car for school. All this light, all this noise. This is my signal that it's time to put away reflections of living deeply and join in the noise of the day.

My Life of Entrepreneurial Ideas & Hamster Wheels

My Life of Entrepreneurial Ideas & Hamster Wheels
I didn't take this photo. I should have looked for one that I took, as I'm sure there's something more fitting in my library, but I just want to hit publish. So, this here is a CC0 image--no credit needed. You can use it, too. 

Time warping through my mind's eye makes me feel like I'm standing still while everything is happening around me.

There's a list sitting on my Google Drive since 2013--previously in my head since 2009--of things I want to accomplish for my nonprofit. We're all volunteers, our website is not functioning correctly, and so our items we use for fundraising aren't taking off the way they usually would (with a functioning site). And so it's a cycle--no money to make things work to sell the things that will help us raise the money to make things work. 

It's been this way since the start. As a volunteer-run organization, we rely on the combined time and talents of our community. I love that aspect of it. I love what everyone has accomplished and am proud of what they've built together. 

But I know there is more to do. As I watch so many of the ideas from that list get checked off by others as the years have gone on (most rapidly in the past couple of years as women's outdoor organizations have started to become mainstream), it's been awesome to see the welcome they've received by the community. It gives validation that the ideas I had so long ago were needed, were on target, and were viable. It also makes me glad that someone had the time and money to make it happen.

Yet, there is a twinge of regret. If only I'd been able to figure it out. If only I'd had the time to dedicate to one project instead of trying to juggle the day-to-day needs of my organization. If only our organization was self-sustaining instead of sustained from my personal income.

And so many other wishes. 

Ideas come in waves: first I see something beginning to take shape, then I see it grow and gain details. It doesn't take long; once I see it, everything rushes together to make up a final project or product idea. 

And then it washes away. It's forever cemented in my mind (or in my Google Docs) but it's like I can't capture it and hold it in front of me. It's too big for me to personally fund or to create or to learn every skill needed to pull it off or understand the legal side of it and how to make it work. 

It's maddening. And it haunts me, continuously. I know, even before social proof tells me so, that the idea will take hold in the market, it would be a good service for the community, it is something that will improve lives. And so on... 

But when you can't quickly bring that thing to market, or even create a prototype, and you're running a nonprofit (investors don't go for that model), how do you make it happen? Even Kickstarters require massive time and some money (video production, updates, fulfilling donation-level promises), something that is not our luxury to provide, as it would take away from the community we already have. 

Sometimes, I feel like I'm in a hamster wheel.  If only I could get this ONE piece of code to work. If only I had the ability raise the funds for ONE project. Everything affects the other, so when one piece doesn't work, the rest falls apart. I'm always chasing it and never seeming to get closer. 

Years go by. My ideas become reality through someone else's dedication. I love it, but I don't. I feel momentum slipping out of my grasp.

We are Not Entitled: Internet Stardom & Reality

What is the perfect photograph? The perfect story, the perfect article? What's the perfect social media post? The perfect filter, the perfect selfie?

The world is chasing perfection. It's no longer an American fault of "keeping up with the Joneses;" it's a worldwide phenomenon, touching every area the internet reaches. The busyness of that network plays against our human need to be noticed, to belong, to feel important.

So we strive for perfection.

But is that perfection even attainable—especially now that we seek it with our crippled attention spans?

The Internet Made Us Do It

Twitter made us all think we were witty. Instagram made us all think we were photographers. Get your point across in 140 characters, apply this filter to that photo. Publish.

The platforms worked their way from early adopters' experiments into mass consumption in everyone's lives. The network got busier, and humans struggled to stand out.

We seek stardom because everyone can have it. Steps needed:

  1. Read a few tips
  2. Post a few pics
  3. Share it around

The truth is, not everyone can. And though countless clickbait titles might tell us differently, anything lasting requires much more than those three steps.

But for the instant-gratification generation, it's just what we want to hear.  Our attention spans are cut short by Google-instancy, by digital camera playback, by that first double tap on our Instagram photos that comes in during the same second it was posted (and the tens or hundreds more that roll in afterward).

Did the person even look at the photo before giving it a like, by the way?

Values of the Past

I figure, without the internet, we'd be a generation defined by a set of very different qualities.

Those who went before us were people who worked on their craft. Film took time to develop. People applied filters using actual glass that was screwed onto the end of a lens. Words were published on paper, and before they were published, they were written on a typewriter without auto-correct. These people may have been pining for stardom, but not many expected it to come easy.

It takes years to hone skills in photography. It's not a matter of simply spinning it through Snapseed and slapping a final filter on it before pushing it out to Instagram, thinking that that's all it takes to get an assignment with National Geographic Adventure. Great shorts (films) take time. It's not a matter of applying a time-lapse to something mundane and expecting a Snapchat following to dig what we put down. And just because we've written a few blog posts and attached a "Follow this Formula for More Clicks" title doesn't mean The New Yorker should be taking notice by now.

But our generation doesn't have that patience. Maybe we don't have that depth. Sometimes I feel like it's been stolen from us because there's always been the instantaneousness of the internet. Combined with every human's need to be appreciated, we see others rising quickly to internet fame and think we deserve the same.

Internet fame.

We Don't Own Our Work

I'm no less guilty of these feelings of needing to be accepted. But we tend to forget that the internet is not necessarily an equal playing field. Neither is real life. The past generation knew that developing serious skills took time. It still does in this age. True skills. Things that make our work actually stand out from the noisiness of every other over-saturated, heavily-HDR'd photo. More than that quippy 140 character tweet, and more than that e-book download written in a matter of weeks instead of months, even years.

On the internet, we need to do this and more. Keep in mind that what we put out may never be seen because of ever-changing algorithms whose laws are shrouded behind a veil of mystery (thank you, Facebook). Platforms that we work to develop followings on one year may be consumed by a richer copycat the next year and leave us as the losers (thank you, Instagram video vs Vine).

Also, any fame we acquire in this age is fleeting. We don't own it. If our favorite channel goes down, there goes our status, because what can we point back to? There's no hard copy of our work, no brick and mortar gallery with sales to show that our skills were prized by others. We can only say we were Instagram stars, with xx(,xxx) amount of followers.

The Turning Point

We're a generation wanting perfection without the patience to work for it. And I'm one to speak; I'm part of it. But the realization is that we're reaching a point where we either return to tangible while benefitting from digital, or tangible will become obsolete.

I hope it's the former. How sad to never hold a print magazine again, read long-form journalism, or study photographs captured by a patient photographer in the field.

If we do return to some of the pre-internet values of life, we may finally gain the fulfillment that is impossible to attain when trying to keep up with the Joneses. We may never reach perfection, but I believe the striving for it—truly, with that "old-fashioned" trait of perseverance—will deepen our generation and give us back some of what the internet took from us.
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