*For those who are able, enjoy what I share, and feel that it is valuable to them, consider buying me a virtual cup of tea. Tea is a beautiful thing, which I enjoy very much. While it’s not quite as nice as sharing a cup and conversation with you personally, the gift goes a long way towards sustaining my work. I never write or review images without a cup nearby (and a second close behind).
For the month of July, I traded my computer, which sits in a dimly lit corner of my apartment, its daunting archive of photographic memories awaiting edits, and browser tabs of endless distractions, for a pad of paper and pencil, a seat by the window, and lilies in my kitchen.
I enrolled in a storytelling workshop, my first ever. Each morning I awoke as the sun was rising, I put the kettle on for tea, and, as it heated to a boil, engaged myself in a freewriting session. For the first two weeks, these sessions lasted about five minutes. At that point, my stranglehold on the pencil usually caused my hand to cramp. In time, this became easier, and, dare I say, enjoyable. The pandemic meant that it was a completely virtual class, and as such, my fellow participants—now, dear friends—were scattered throughout the globe. Together we learned the art of storytelling.
This is a post to let those of you who follow this blog, but who might not follow me on social media, know that I am still alive. What with the global pandemic of COVID-19 being what it is, I suppose this reminder post, a sort of “status update,” isn’t uncalled for. Also, if I’m honest, it has been quite a while since I last posted. My apologies.
There is so much to say about my workshop experience, the things I’ve learned, the friendships made, the stories shared. But as I said, this is merely a “status update” post. Perhaps at a later time, stories from the workshop will surface.
With any luck, the future of this blog will consist of more poetry, prose, and photography (perhaps even videos as well). These things take time, though. In any case, I will try to find a balance between spontaneity and regularity. For those of you who subscribe by email, I will do my best not to inundate your inbox. For all others, try not to forget that I’m here. Perhaps I can find a way for subscribers to opt-in to weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletters.
What I have learned is that creating takes time. You have to slow down and pay attention. It requires going out and finding a story, or realizing you already have one to tell and then gathering material, be it audio recordings, video, or photographs. Once the easy work is over, you sit with what you have gathered, and you try to make sense of it. Then there are the numerous drafts. All of this is, of course, a labor of love.
The extra time between posts is for both of us. I have a life that must be lived, but I also want to be sure that what I post is valuable to you, the reader. That requires taking the necessary time to ensure a finished, polished piece. After all, I can’t expect to be granted any of your time without first giving you some of mine. For your time and attention, I thank you much.*
One of the final projects of the workshop was to produce a multimedia profile of someone using photography, recorded audio, and voice over. Not having regular access to anyone other than my dog, I turned the camera on myself. I wasn’t sure how to talk about myself, and while I enjoy conversation, talking to a lifeless recording device (my phone) felt unnatural. In the end, I wrote something that I consider a mash-up of a speech, spoken word poem, and theatrical monologue. I’ve shared the final video below.
I hope everyone is finding ways of coping in these unique, challenging, and socially distant times. Let’s take a moment to be grateful for the technology that enables us access to our friends and our family at the tips of our fingers. Call them often. Check up on each other. Spend countless hours talking about nothing in particular on the phone until all that’s left to share is the quiet electronic hiss of the line’s connection. Stay safe everyone.
– S. R.