Book writing is arduous. I am casting about for my outline and focus, seeing how various essays, experience, and inquiries may fit. Due to the magnitude of the effort, my subject needs to be something I am passionate about, and for which, I hope, there will be an audience. My recent passion has been the family and regaining spiritual fitness, recovering my sense of self, following grievous events. I can write a lot on that subject, but most of it would not be good fodder for the reader. Using Sally Mann as an example, though, I could draw through this as supportive of the book’s central journey. One thought is to focus on the Ethiopia charity work, and use asides such as my motivation or how I empathize with those we care for.
Another thought is to focus on James Ricalton, my great grandfather, who has an extraordinary and mostly untold story, of exploration and journalism, including three journeys by foot from Cape Town to Cairo. With porters, he carried five view cameras, from 5x7” to 11x17” in size, along with thousands of glass photographic plates. I am reading Ricalton’s unpublished diaries to try to grasp the story that could be told. At least, it would be an interesting aside to the book’s central theme. When I go to Ethiopia, October 16 to November 6, one thought is to go down to Cape Town, to climb 3,500’ Table Mountain, which Ricalton also climbed and photographed.
Interesting to contemplate. This also resonates with work my father and I often discussed, but never did – e.g., going to the Library of Congress to review the Ricalton archives, including the first documentary films ever made, featuring whaling off of South Africa. (He did these for Thomas Edison.) I should also go to the Metropolitan Museum to review Ricalton collections. (Ricalton often sold prints and plates to the museum, which helped finance some of his journeys.) Maybe discuss with Ken Burns, Carl H, and Melissa F-G.