Today, We Are All Irish

Editing and Remembering

Working on the novel today. I am remembering my research of the Book of Kells in the Library of Trinity College in Dublin. So long ago, it seems. Not to the Book of Kells, I'm sure. The last of its 340 folios was completed in 384AD.

Today is March 17, and the weather is beautiful where I am. The sun is bright in a blue sky and warming the chill of a late winter morning beside the Pacific. It's a good day and I am grateful for it. That said, I'd rather be in The Temple Bar this morning for a proper Irish Breakfast.

Irish Breakfast

  • Eggs

  • Bacon (chewy, not crispy)

  • Sausages

  • Mushrooms

  • Baked Beans

  • Grilled Tomato

  • Black Pudding

  • Toast  (Irish soda bread for me, thanks)

  • Butter

  • Marmalade

  • Tea  (coffee for this Yank)

Dublin is 11 hours and 5,145 miles away measured in time and miles, but not in the more accurate distance of memory, desire and the senses. The streets, Georgian stone architecture, the greens, buskers and bracing poetic passions of that place are just outside my mind's window today.

The annual St. Patrick's parade will cross over the Liffey River at O'Connell Street and enter another year of one of western society's most enduring traditions.

Patrick and Ireland are indelibly bound in our imaginations, yet he is not Irish. He was born Maewyn Succat in Roman Britain. When he was about 16, Irish pirates kidnapped him and sold him into slavery to a Druid high priest in Ireland.  He worked as a shepherd for six years before escaping back to Britain. Eventually, he had a dream in which a voice gave him the mission of returning to Ireland to work with the Christians there. Patrick was beyond good for the Emerald Isle. He adopted the Irish and by the time of his death, he had established schools, monasteries and churches all over the island. 

Perhaps it's the Irish in me, but I'd like to think that Patrick and today's Irish would recognize one another if he were to return to Ireland for today's celebration in Dublin. He would welcome the embrace of that legendary and companionable literary city.

Now, I'm off in my mind to The Temple Bar for a stout. With a raising of the glass by the Scot in me to the North-Northeast and a corresponding Sláinte to the assembled patrons in the pub, I settle in to appreciate ballads accompanied by Uilleann pipes.

Photo: Leandro Borges de Carvalho

Photo: Leandro Borges de Carvalho

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you.

 

Mark

Creativity Squared

Writing + Art Photography

Writing and photography are competing and complementary pursuits for me. Until now, their competing aspects kept my workspaces separate and distinct; writing here, developing photographs and printing there. Two sides of the same creative force divided into two creative spaces. Until today.

Writing is impossibly difficult and immensely rewarding. While it costs far more in time and effort than anything I have ever done, it compensates with learning, discovery, and understanding.

Photography is also difficult, yet opens me up to the world, other lives and remarkable stories in a journey of discovery that makes me a better person and, hopefully, a better artist. Always has. Blotched and imperfect daguerreotype images from 1838 France, then England, and later from the U.S. Civil War captured my imagination during rainy afternoons among the stacks in the village public library. Large format impressed me with the mystery of glass, solution and light. Then medium format seemed to perfect the beauty and authentic documentary truth within the confined borders of a print. The spectacular advances of 35mm, Polaroid, film to digital, and DSLR photography seemed essential and worthy. If I could learn enough, I might just be able to translate my innate curiosity and empathy for certain subjects into meaningful works that support others’ interests. This is how we discover the truth, by gathering fragments, piecing together theories of reality. Evolving.

The world is large and diverse, yet most of us live within walking or commuting distance of our day jobs. Most of us grow up thinking small, grateful for a paycheck, fearful of the loss of that paycheck, amazed when we find friendship, humbled when we discover love. Decades fly by as we prepare for our life’s great aspiration. Time passes, and we find out that as we made plans our life spent itself. We were focused on job, family, house, and taxes while time focused on… time.

Today, I break through the wall that separates my writing and my visual art. Writing and Photography. A new beginning for both.

I am pleased to present a series of my images of tall ships, each of which captures a sense of story that I strive for in everything I do. And each of which inspires new stories in my imagination.

Debut: Tall Ships

I have been photographing boats for longer than Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours required to become world-class. Yet I still feel I am only beginning to understand the truths to be found at the intersection of time, skill, and insight.

Flying Jibs and Euterpe - The Star of India

Flying Jibs and Euterpe - The Star of India

Discovery is a fundamental quality of the sailing experience. No two moments afloat are alike. Every ocean, season, and transit is a one-off. Each tack, reach and run is unique. And the human skills that developed over thousands of hours learning and eventually mastering the ability to navigate all this newness are fragile and fleeting, for we are here for only a blink of an eye in the scheme of time. Yet the more one discovers, learns and masters, the more opportunities present themselves to challenge us. In this way, we find out the soul of nature, weather, seas and the vessels we build to walk on water and take flight on ever-changing winds.

Whether writing or shooting, telling a story about the history in a 2,000-year-old tibia or documenting time’s stresses in a 178-year-old whaling ship’s arthritic rib, my goal is the same: to capture meaning itself, inspire the viewer’s imagination and touch the timeless in everyone who looks upon them.   

I invite you to visit my gallery and view my new Tall Ships collection at markrogerbailey.com, and while you’re there, please stop by my Gallery Shop.

Until next time,

Mark



Intuition

Trust your intution . . . it doesn't lie. A sense of otherness can guide us across the frontier of human story possibilities.

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“Shallows at Dusk” Wins John G. Mitchell Award

By markrogerbailey

 

“North Cove Shallows at Dusk” (2012) by Mark Roger Bailey

My photograph, “North Cove Shallows at Dusk,” has received the 2013 John G. Mitchell Environmental Conservation Award.

The award by the Land/Conservation Trusts of Lyme, Old Lyme, Salem, Essexand East Haddam (CT) honors the American environmentalist and former editor of National Geographic Magazine, John G. Mitchell (d. 2007). Past editor of Sierra Club Books and a longtime field editor and writer for Audubon Magazine, he also wrote many books, including LOSING GROUND (1975), ALASKA STORIES (1984), and DISPATCHES FROM THE DEEP WOODS (1991).

I captured this photo in Essex, CT late one April afternoon. The river bottom stones in the foreground, the larger boulders in the middle distance sharing the deepening water and the reflected glow of sunset spoke to me about the interconnectedness of our existence along the banks of one of America’s great rivers.

1930 Model A Ford_Mark RogerBailey

1930 Model A Ford parked under patriotic bunting before the Griswold Inn, Essex, CT (2012)

My photograph of an antique Ford automobile, “Model A Before Griswold Inn,” placed second in the Cultural Historic category.

Avoid Mind Reading

Except your own

Writing to the market always falls short of the mark. Besides being a soul-numbing experience (because you end up essentially writing someone else’s inspiration), it cannot be researched sufficiently, drafted, rewritten, edited, rewritten again, shopped, edited, and published in time to capitalize on the market trend.  So, you have invested valuable time, energy, and effort in a project to which you are less than 100% committed, and about which you are less than passionate.

Start with what you want to read. Do what you think is right. Draft your concept.  Outline it, write a few chapters and share it with someone whose skill, perspective, judgment, interests, and discernment you respect.  Odds are that those pages will jump to life in the reader’s mind because you care, because you’re invested in something you want to say, in a tale you want to tell.

Trying to forecast the market, or read editors’ or agents’ minds wastes your time.  It also paralyzes your writer’s instrument.  The skills that you develop as a writer are important, high performance, precision tools.  Don’t use your scalpel as a screwdriver.  Don’t use your best sagacious voice to make someone else’s hero sound interesting. Respect yourself, your ideas, and your time.  Follow your muse, your heart, and craft the stories you think matter, the ideas, subjects, and characters that wake you at 3:00 am.