While my forthcoming book 'Summer In The City State' has been a labour of text - writing and rewriting, correcting and revising - the images I framed on the trip itself are fully formed, suspended in their own right and clear.
Anyone who writes can attest to the struggles of conveyance. It comes in stages. First you are happy to get words down, and mould them into some sort of clear, engaging
form. You work on different scenes and try to transpose the excitement living in your imagination onto the white space before you. The seasons change, summer into winter, and you keep pushing on with the process. Then comes the feeling of breakthrough as the end nears. And with it, the warm self-affirming feeling of achievement. It's cosy for a while.
The second stage eventually turns up on the scene. The clouds move in, the sky darkens and you are entrenched in some weeks and months of word-thrashing, cliché culling and sentence decapitation. It is violent and disorientating. You start to tire, the focus becomes poor. SELF DOUBT. Coffee binges. Anxiety.
One way out was to stand back and look. Assess your writing and more importantly the path you want your nonfiction to take. When it comes to writing, for me its the gloss I like to strip down. For nonfiction, memoir, culture, immersive journalism - call it what you want - the story happens and you tell it. This is where the culling and thrashing comes in. I cut out the fat. 'No filler all killer' as the punks say. Eventually the calm returned and some sense of, albeit shorter, form was achieved.
The images - a series of photography captured from the initial stages of the journey, aboard a ferry across the Mediterranean to Ceuta, through the cities of the Rif Mountains and on the streets of Tangier - had solidified into their own micro-story. I sifted through some three hundred plus pictures. The location of Ceuta and Tangier. The natural environment. The people and places photographed did the work for me.
And once I ignored 'the fear', the hesitation of combining a written narrative with a photographic form - I began to see it all 'worked'. The book now in its complete form, is not a 'travel' book in the traditional sense (despite possibly falling into this category in your online bookstore). It is a capture of my perspective against a backdrop of tumultuous times for many living on the border regions of North Africa and Southern Europe. It is a test of my own perceptions and levels of acceptance. It is a study of social tension and escape.
Here are some of the images from 'Summer In The City State'.
Paperback will see the light of day on 8th April 2016. But you are free to contact me about getting an advance paperback edition, or just order now:
Eamonn Sheehy - travel writing with a focus on people and culture.