“I have broken the yoke.”
~ Jeremiah, 28:2
Enfin! It took over four months for me to retro-convert twelve years of La Vie Graphite, consolidated to this site, and it is thankfully now complete. After a number of server crashes of the photo repository I’d been using, trusting, and paying for, I decided to interrupt my essay-writing and put the time and energy into salvaging all my hard work. This meant systematically editing through more than three hundred essays, removing the “photo bucket” links, repairing tags and all coding errors, followed by uploading each and every photograph directly onto the blog’s server. I did the work in reverse chronological order, since blog sites are presented in that configuration, and in the event of more “bucket” crashes, readers would not be looking at imageless essays with broken links. All of this work was done while this blog continued to be “live,” careful not to lose any existing work- or your much-cherished readership. Behind the scenes, I also had to create a comprehensive photo archive to match each essay. Getting that done meant reviewing thousands of jpg files, organizing and consolidating them, re-editing them as necessary. Even for this full-time archivist, it was a complex and major operation.
Like any worthwhile project, this was a learning experience, too. While refining my HTML skills, I saw how the markup tags have evolved through the years. I also saw how the “bucket,” now properly kicked, embedded advertisements for itself within each individual image tag. All such links are water under the bridge, now. Having had the chance to read back through more than twelve years of essays, I learned a few more things- much more useful than the tedium of editing and repair. I was reminded of books I’d read which had left my proximate thoughts. I saw adventures and ideals well worth continuation. I was also reminded about how much I love to write and create photographs. Well, the prow of this ship is pointed forward, good and early for an upcoming season that happens to be my favorite, "winter-into-spring".
Returning to the swing of essay writing is taking some time, even though I’m a daily journal-writer. When I had more time (and a lot less stress), I enjoyed years of what I called my “ten-day writing week.” From sketching a concept into a cohesive theme, accompanying my text with photo illustrations, refining the composite, and publishing tended to happen in ten-day cycles. I even had time to contribute essays to other sites. Getting through some major crises, I considered myself productive to complete one essay per month. I hope to land somewhere in the middle, but it has to begin somewhere. The important thing, as I like to tell my writing students, is to write- and write authentically. Teaching and Doing have always gone together for me. During the latter ten years of my fourteen years in commercial photography, I taught photo in an art college. For nearly three years, I’ve been teaching journaling, and teaching philosophy for nearly four. The latter has helped provide an additional connection with Oxford for me. All the while, studying and writing have continued; simply reading back through chapbooks and daily journals, there are numerous themes for me to cultivate. And photographs.
My new year begins about two months late. Better March than never. Emerging from the “maintenance hiatus” feels a bit like a restart, albeit upon a foundation. There’s still plenty of snow and cold, here in northern New England, but daylight spans are lengthening by the day. That is, simply in itself, a subtle sign of hope. Just as writing across a page is a succession of words, so are paragraphs and essays successions of ideas. Thank you to all of you that read and have been so thoughtful to be in contact. Just as before, there is presently a great need for creative and conscientious artists to continue creating. Even the humblest positive step is still a motion in a constructive direction. I like to think of something I learned from Brother Roger, in the Taizé monastery: “The wellsprings of jubilation will never run dry, when a heart that trusts goes from one beginning to another.”