A couple days ago we put our boats in the Clearwater, a friendly little spring-fed river that S-curves its way through the spruce forest.
After eight miles, the Clearwater flows into the Tanana River, which is a highway of suspended silt, a major tributary of the Yukon River, and wide enough that we could paddle side by side with our friends and talk.
We try to do this float every year and always stop at the same south facing bluff and go for a hike to see the first flowers of Spring.
I searched for an Eagle’s nest I remembered seeing on the bluff a few years ago. I knew the nest had fallen because I hadn’t seen it last year. I thought I’d find the remains, a big pile of sticks on the ground, but instead all I found was this.
The fish head was so dry that it had no odor. And it’d been there a while, probably several years, because there was moss growing on it.
Back on the river we encountered lots of ice still holding onto the bank on the north side.
I knew it wouldn’t be getting dark until August so I didn’t bring a watch. We were paddling from one point to another and it’d take however long it takes—that’s River Time.
I think the same is true when you’re writing a book. You might have word or page-count goals, but it’ll take however long it takes and hopefully you’ll enjoy the journey along the way.
We’re hopping on an airplane in a couple of days, bound for Indiana and then New York City. I’ll still be online much of the time and hopefully working on my new WIP, too. I have a general outline, and am 17,000 words into the first draft.
What are you up to this week? Do you get much writing done when you travel? I hope I will.
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Posted in Revision, Setting, Writing, tagged Alaska, kayaking, overflow ice, revision, setting, Terry Lynn Johnson, Writing on May 10, 2010|
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First off. Thanks to everyone who entered my contest. The winner is Christine Fonseca. I’ve got a copy of The Chosen One ready to mail to her.
Last week I spent an evening paddling an inflatable kayak down Goldstream Creek.
The optimal time to float Goldstream is just after the surface ice breaks up and the creek is high, basically two to three feet of water flowing over ice that has yet to melt. It’s a fun little crash through a tunnel of brush.
Just three miles down the road from Goldstream is O’Connor Creek.
What you see in the photo, taken the same day as the other photos, is called overflow ice. When O’Connor starts to freeze up in the fall there is enough pressure in this small stream that the water is forced upward through the ice. The water flows on top of the ice that’s already formed and then refreezes. This goes on all winter long if the air temperature is cold enough, which is not a problem here. Ice forms several feet thick and spreads out thirty or forty feet across, all from a trickle of a stream.
O’Conner breaks up differently than Goldstream. I’ve seen ice in O’Conner Creek at the end of June. Here it is in May.
Seeing these two creeks, so different yet they share the same valley, got me thinking about setting and how authentic, specific details can bring a work to life.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of beta-reading one of Terry Lynn Johnson’s WIPs. She uses specific setting details to continually drive the story forward. One of the many ways we get to know her MC is through her physical, psychological and emotional responses to her setting.
My mantra when I revise for setting is: “Sparse but specific.”
I just sent my newest WIP to my agent and am starting a new novel. What are you working on this week? And, do you have any favorite writing mantras?
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