Dear Friends and Supporters, Fellow Pilgrims All ~
First, my apologies for no updates during the year of covid. As for many of us it was a strange and challenging year, and brought all progress on the Thebaid book to a standstill.
As I recently found out, the covid lockdown hit St Tikhon’s Monastery Press hard also, but in different ways. My time for the book evaporated overnight, as everything became ruled by the “tyranny of the urgent.” Part time day job became full time, and my modest volunteer ministry at my home parish became a greatly expanded role (like a second job, truly): facilitating live-streaming of services, signups, heightened communications, and much more.
In contrast, St Tikhon’s lost their volunteer staff (largely students from the seminary) for the Press and Bookstore, the reduced manpower affecting their publishing capacity, and requiring real dedication to hold to their existing printing schedule.
So it was with a great sense of relief and actually joy, that we linked up by phone a few weeks ago and set in place our Path to Publication.
Visual Pilgrimage by Region
Because I had already done so much file prep and image editing, and had provided an abundance of image files to the Press in late 2019, Fr. Mikel Hill at STM Press has swiftly resumed his organization of the book and general sequencing of the photographs, which will follow my actual travels, leading the viewer on a visual pilgrimage through the major regions of America. I will be providing detailed layout and image placement instructions each week, with Fr. Mikel sending back PDF galley proofs for me to approve or tweak.
The groups of images will be punctuated by special articles, contributed by American monastics. Select quotes and information about the monasteries will be highlighted in text boxes overlaying full-page-bleed images and 2-page spreads. There will be a rhythm, a cadence, a flow to the book. And I’ll be sharing some of the galley proofs here for you to keep you informed on the progress.
Weekly Production Meetings
To effect all this, we will be conducting weekly production meetings by phone and Skype, and have already begun these “Thebaid Thursday” sessions.
All of this is invigorating enough, and I get the clear sense from Fr. Mikel that he (and Abbot Sergius) are very enthusiastic about completing our work and getting the book to print. There is a joyful energy around this resumption of our shared work, testimony to our shared purpose, the advancement of Orthodoxy and Orthodox monasticism in America, through the beauty and mystery of these images.
‘Time’ to Finish
For me personally, the ability to take an extended sabbatical from work and devote myself 100% to The North American Thebaid Book, is the “critical mass” of the publishing process. This is actually how the entire project began, with a convergence of time, vision and inspiration, followed by scheduling, travel and photography. Now, it seems the fullness of time for the Thebaid Book has come, and with that elusive element of Time opened back up for me, and with it the renewed vision, collaboration, and activity leading to the finished book, in your hands.
Thanksgiving, and a Teaser
Thank you all, for your patience and trust, and for your continuing prayers for this project. And my thanks to those of you who took a few minutes to reach out and see how I have been and where things stand. I am so gratified to be able to report this solid, real news, and our Real Path to Publication.
Rather than post one of my images today, I felt it most appropriate to post a “teaser” of sorts, the galley proof of the prototype Copyright page from the early design work at St Tikhon’s done towards the end of 2020. I look forward to sharing more pages and spreads in the weeks ahead.