The Digital Abyss
Plenty to do, but not enough time
Everything, including casual conversations, lectures, presentations, job interviews, books, movies, sermons, and the parables of the Bible, is artful storytelling—some creative non-fiction, some fiction, and certainly exaggeration. I hear a story each morning, then journal it and stow it away as a digital file on a silicon chip. I post the stories on a webpage and leave it to possible discovery by a passerby in the matrix. Posting stories on the internet is a message in a bottle hope I have. I used to email people I knew about a new post I made, but it intrigues me enough to leave the readers of my story to God’s intervention—I build it, and they will come strategy. This strategy rarely succeeds. Offering the discovery of my stories to Divine Intervention is a small step in my walk to knowing and trusting God.
I watch other storytellers, documentarians, cinematographers, and photographers in search of understanding the craft. Starting to understand the skills included in producing a thought-provoking document, photo, or film in my seventies is a Sisyphus effort. As I begin to grasp, for instance, non-linear video editing software and technology changes, I start looking up again at the hilltop. Only writing stays steady-state. Words are words, and grammar remains fixed. I need help understanding the nuances of writing, grammar, or sentence structure. I write every morning and use some technologies as editors to polish the story I attempt to tell. I love Grammarly.
In my frustration for recognition and collaboration on social platforms, I found giving up on a following or a paycheck was liberating. I have a website, dot com, and my name. If you are reading this article, you have discovered my stories and images. I pay to keep jamesbondly.com alive and receive no income from it. It is the only conduit to a reader or lover of photography, videography, and how I tell my stories using these mediums. Then to reassure me, I discovered the word “Blakean,” taken from William Blake (1757–1827), the unknown English poet and painter. I stumbled upon an article from Naomi Wolf about her Father, Dr. Leonard Wolf:
From an article by Naomi Wolf about her Father:
Dr. Leonard Wolf believed that once you write something, it no longer belongs to you. It belongs, as he taught his many students, not to the author but to the universe.
He also believed that even if a writer had just one reader, that was enough; the right words for the right reader meant that an entire universe was created. He was a Blakean, after all, and saw “Heaven in a Wild Flower.” He made literary use of the Talmud’s teaching: that if you save even one life, you have saved a world.
Wolf also distinguished between what he called the “career” of the writer and the “life” of the writer. “Careers” he held in little esteem; they came and went; the acclaim or the disdain of the world was meaningless to him.
But: were you genuinely living “the life of the writer”? That was the question about which he cared; his eyes sparkled when he asked it. And the “life of a writer” set a high bar.
The question meant: were you, every day of your working life, doing your utmost, to tell the Truth as you knew it, to make the manifestation of it in prose — he loved saying that lovely word, “prose” — beautiful?
Were you expressing what had to be expressed? Without narcissism, without laziness, without hiding, without false notes of pretentiousness?
“Had to be expressed” was a magical imperative, for he was also a Platonist; he believed that prose that felt true drew on metaphysical Truth, that such works derived from somewhere perfect before poor mortals hewed them onto the fallible page.
He quoted playwright Arthur Miller, who was supposed to have said to an admirer praising his work: “You should have seen it before I wrote it.”
I strive to be a Blakean, knowing that a sole reader may learn from some kernel of my prose and improve their lives. That is enough. All the photos and videos I produce may never see a following, yet if they help one see God’s creation, it is good. In this life, I strive to witness God and honor Him in every image I document of the moments I meet God. God liberated me from the trappings of worldly success and notoriety. It has become God, and I write, take pictures, and make videos, hoping to plant seeds of faith in Jesus to one I will never know.
I am starting a YouTube channel soon. I have fought this for some time. Excuses abound for not releasing the “Good News” stories that I have witnessed: my lack of skills and craft, technology struggles, general self-doubt, and my can’t teach an old dog new tricks attitude. I am a procrastinator. I pretend I make progress with tons of videos and still content resting on my laptop. But never get around to telling the remarkable stories God blesses me, such as:
* Walter F. Goodman—A non-fiction “Forest Gump” story that begins, “I was born on Alcatraz Island.”
* Glen Sperry—Professional waterskier, best known as the man who skis on stilts in his eighties.
* Marcellino Parisian— a “Dance onto the Lord” story, is an Artist, Musician, and Pow Wow Dancer.
* Fathers Farm—An Iron Sharpens Iron story of redeemed men and the 23 acres God gave them.
* Faith on the Prairie—A series of short stories about great chasers of God.
* Life to the Fullest—A vlog-style anti-retirement Christ-Centered series with practical, joyful ideas about daily DIY Survival:
* Gardening, Health, and Food
* Building Skills
Chasing God—My storytelling journey to find God in His creation:
F-Stop Drifters—Travel stories from “Lucille,” our 20-foot home-on-wheels tour of North America.
Adding to the procrastination and self-doubt is the heaviest—Time, not enough time. Combining story productions with daily life and completing the open projects around our home and the farm, with my struggles honing my crafts, is a daunting To-DO list. But I have this calling to share my struggles and the testimonies of exciting people who cross it. I have abundant material, but I am a one-person production company. I am the director, photographer, videographer, writer, grip, audio technician, editor, and actor. My main obstacle is remembering to photograph and film the events and work in real-time while accomplishing the subject matter task. Then there is the “Art,” the cinematography, the nuances of composition, and the power of words assembled into the stories. I am letting go of any idea of mastering any of the crafts I use. I do not have the time remaining in my life. But this is the story, the conflict, and in the end, a hopeful resolution.
It is a simple statement: I have often heard, “Perfection is the death of done; just do it!” So, I shall see as I stumble through this travel to tell the stories armed with cameras and technologies, doing my best to understand and obey the rules and guidelines for composing visual and written stories.
Small Beginnings, Zechariah 4:9-10
“Zerubbabel is the one who laid the foundation of this Temple, and he will complete it. Then you will know that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has sent me. 10 Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin and the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.”
Does anyone who stumbles upon this writing have suggestions or want to offer a helping hand? Could you leave me a message?