This morning, I met with my friend and liaison to all things Peruvian, Pablo M, to discuss moving forward with yet another project I’ve been working on. It is a photography book, tentatively titled “Architecture and Faith: The Spanish Colonial Churches of Arequipa, Peru.” Working with the help and permission of the Archbishop, I have already taken hundreds of photos of these churches, and I’m not even done yet.
We’re at a bit of an impasse right now. For reasons I won’t mention here, I’ve been out of the country, in the US, on and off for a good part of the past year. Up until the time when I was required to leave, we had laid out some good plans, but had not yet begun to implement them. The primary focus of our plan is to find private funding for the first printing of the book.
You see, in Peru, one does not simply approach a publisher with an idea, a manuscript, or even with hundreds of photos. One first assembles the entire project, then secures funding, then finds a printer who can handle the project, then hopes for the best. I am still in the first stage, though we are due to meet with the Archbishop who knows all the right people to ask for support. Might I add that I have promised to donate any/all proceeds from the sale of the book to the Archdiocese.
I am sorting through the photos, copying the best and most representative to thumb drives, and will find a “revelador” to have prints made before our next meeting.
It is a distraction from the other three projects I have going. One, I mentioned before, is my first foray into anything remotely travel oriented, and is a one-year diary of living and eating in Peru. Another is similar to the two novels I have already published, a family history of sorts set in an earlier period of time (mid-century New Mexico). The last project I have going is still in its seminal stage, but very important to me. I hope, when time and my emotional state allow, to write a memoir of my son’s life.
My friend Mc (Kevin McIlvoy) told me “There is no way out but through.” I’ve barely entered and I already feel the truth of his words. The pain of writing his life, and consequently the lives of our entire family, almost equals the pain of losing him. But it’s a necessary pain.
And when it is too much to bear, I write about living and eating in Peru, or about a long-ago time in New Mexico, or I translate information from archives about the Colonial churches, their construction, their destruction by fire or earthquake, and their eventual reconstruction and restoration.
As I work on “The Picanteria Diaries,” I’m remembering my early days in Peru, my trepidation, my frustration with the language, my joy of discovering new tastes and sights and culture, my homesickness for my kids in the US. And all the while, I’m remembering my son and hoping to live up to me promise that I will not live without him, but will live for him.