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Anyone else struggling? I'm usually really motivated, but lately I have had to force myself to do much. Writing, forget about it! I can't even spend time reading anymore. I think we all could benefit from off the grid cabins somewhere in the woods, for something like a year. I have an acquaintance who goes into the Alaskan bush every winter to run a trapline with her husband and child. She doesn't have cell service or internet for six months. That sounds pretty good right now.

But we go on. I am on night 32 of backpacking this summer. Normally I do a couple two and three week long... Read More...

Anyone else decide there are things that aren't worth doing anymore? I don't know if it is Covid or what, but I've decided to stop doing a few things that don't "spark joy." (Working doesn't really spark joy, but you know...)

  • Being someone else's guidebook. Several people ask me about snow conditions on trails, or where to hike, or for recommendations. Then they go back to their own clique group and don't invite me along. These are people I have invited along with me, but they always demur for whatever reason. So it's not like it's one way. I'm over it; I'll still give some... Read More...

I used to be a runner. I guess I shouldn't say used to be, because I still run. But my running is far different than it was. I've been running for.....42 years (yes that ages me, but I was young when I began). I haven't stuck with ANYTHING else that long (except chocolate). Back in the day, I ran fast. My training runs were between 7 and 8 minute miles--I didn't know about easy runs then. Races were in the 6 something range. sometimes very low sixes. I probably had some natural talent that could have been shaped into something, but there weren't really training plans then. You just ran as... Read More...

I've decided to talk about other things than writing here. If you aren't a writer, then it is a little...boring.

I won't duplicate my hiking blog, but I will share other things now and then. Lately, the world has gone a little crazy, and I have been going out into the woods. I do this all the time anyway but I find that now is more important than ever. I grab the dog, a backpack, and just go. Before Corona I took friends, but now I go solo. It helps to even out the rough edges. I feel like I could walk forever, and I remind myself that I have walked the length of the country. There'... Read More...

This weekend I led a writing workshop via Zoom. There were 17 people, and too much to say. I most likely overwhelmed them with all of my talking. There is so much I have learned, but everyone has their own path. 

I asked people to type in the chat about their project. There were all sorts of creative answers. I want to read all of their books! 

So there's this. In spite of the fact that less people are reading, and instead tapping on their phones, in spite of the fact that you don't make any money as an author, in spite of the depressing and divisive state of the world,... Read More...

Maybe somewhere, someone is writing a lot, but most of the writers I know aren't. I for one don't have any extra time--I'm still working, and busier than ever. My writer friends on administrative leave aren't writing much either. I don't know why, except that for me, the uncertainty of what is going on in the world seems to eclipse any writing I could do. It's enough just to stay alive. 

But! Life has to go on, and I have other friends who are paralyzed by panic. Who don't want to do anything due to fear. I have to live my life, so I am starting to revise the novel. I got some... Read More...

I know, I know. I have neglected this poor blog. (I update more often on my personal hiking blog.) but this is a big one! I just signed a contract with the Oregon State University Press to publish my new memoir. The Last Layer of the Ocean. It is a memoir of kayaking and marriage along Alaska's wild coast, and navigating both. I am so excited that I will be working with a university press again, and that they are willing to take a chance on the book. Look for more  updates when it will be out. I am expecting this to be spring 2021, though this is only tentative.

I have been revising... Read More...

I press send on an email. Please, please like my stories! What people don't tell you is that agents and publishers often don't respond to your queries. They can't. They get too many. Sending your work out is a shot in the dark, and you can assume if three months has gone by, they aren't interested. The ones I appreciate write back, and they might even say something like, "this is lovely writing, but I don't have the excitement it would require to take this on." Or they default to, "This is not the right fit for us." But more often there is silence. It's simple: supply and demand. Many more... Read More...

I lugged a full cubitainer of water up the porch steps. It felt heavy, too heavy. "Remember, you used to carry those on the fireline," J said. I contemplated this. The cubitainers--plastic jugs encased in a cardboard outer layer, were our sources of extra drinking water on the line, and someone had to bump them along as we worked. (Cubies have fallen out of favor in recent days; people said it was because the water could get compromised in the sun, in the plastic. But we all drank them for years and were okay. It beats the millions of plastic one liter bottles that get used now, and most... Read More...

Everyone I've talked to seemed to love THE GEOGRAPHY OF WATER (order today!). If they didn't, they wisely kept their own counsel. Because what author wants to hear, years later, what they could have done differently? Nobody, that's who! However, I just heard of someone who praised FIRE IN THE HEART  but could not finish Geography because "it was so dark."

I felt kind of sad at first. I don't want to turn readers off. But then I thought: Yay! Because if it's dark, then that was what I was going for. I wanted to reflect the darkness of a southeast Alaska winter, where the sun is only... Read More...

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