Posts Tagged ‘Lake Michigan’

The blog has been a little quiet lately but that doesn’t mean I’ve been sitting around doing nothing.

1.  I had a wonderful two week visit with my family, one of the highlights being a trip to Grand Haven, Michigan to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. Yes, I took a dip in Lake Michigan.

2.  I ran the Sunburst Marathon in South Bend, Indiana in high humidity and 80 degree plus heat. I’m glad I crossed the finish line before they called the race due to hazardous heat conditions.

3.  While I was in the Midwest, I received some good news: My middle grade novel has been chosen as a finalist in the Pacific Northwest Writers Association’s Annual Contest. Winners will be announced in August at their annual conference.

4.  I accepted a job for the fall semester. I will be teaching English to the ELL (English Language Learners) students at West Valley High School.  It is a ¾ time teaching position and just for the fall semester, kind of perfect for me in terms of keeping my writing going.

5.  I’m going hiking in the Italian Alps in late July/early August.

6.  And, am I working on a new book? You bet I am!!

Interesting. Is that public information?

That’s all the news that fit to tell. What have you been up to lately?

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Yeah, that's me at two. Love those PJs with the feet!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while you know that I like to spend time in remote places, living close to the elements. The year following my college graduation I spent more nights sleeping in a tent than I did indoors.

But as a kid, besides sleeping out in a friend’s back yard a few times, I never went camping. The summer before my senior year of high school my older brother, Carl said he was going to ride his bike up the coast of Lake Michigan and camp out for a few days.

I was deep into summer basketball workouts, but reluctantly decided to invite myself along on Carl’s trip, not because I wanted to go camping, but because I didn’t want him to go alone. At least that’s how I remember it. Carl is just 21 months older than me and played a huge role in my life as a kid.

Our supplies: one sleeping bag, one blanket, a cast iron frying pan, and a plastic table cloth.

Our plan: one of us uses the bag to sleep, the other the blanket, and if it rains we’ll drape the plastic table cloth over a picnic table and sleep under it. We were brilliant.

Pretty Cozy Accommodations

We pedaled about 70 miles up the coast and set up shop just outside of Covert, MI.

For three nights we slept next to a campfire under the stars in the sand dunes. I had the sleeping bag, Carl the blanket. Yeah, turns out we’d brought that table cloth for nothing!

I almost didn’t go on the trip. And if it’d rained the whole time it would’ve been a completely different experience, but that trip touched me in a way I’d never been touched. Fast forward three years later—I spent the whole summer in a tent in Alaska.

My first home in Alaska, 1984.

What are your early influences? Is there a person or a place or an experience that awakened a part of you that you didn’t know existed? And, have you ever slept under a picnic table? I haven’t, but I came pretty close.

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I’ve been at my parents’ house in South Bend, Indiana for twelve days now, sleeping in the room I slept in when I was growing up. One more night and then I’m heading home to Fairbanks, Alaska. If you’re curious how I ended up in Alaska, I’ve written about it here.

I visit for long stretches because Alaska is so far away from Indiana. And the older my parents get, the farther away it feels. (My dad just turned 83 a few days ago.)

I try to visit three times a year for ten or twelve days. When I visit, we usually go to Lake Michigan at least once—a place I visited often when I was growing up.

Last summer I took my parents up to Pentwater, Michigan for a couple nights.

Last fall we spent the day in St. Joe, Michigan and I ended up with a new friend.

This winter we didn’t get up to the Lake, but this was what it looked like last February when we did.

I try to balance my writing with visiting, writing early in the morning or late at night, but inevitably, the writing falls off. I start off strong, then I hit a few fragmented days where I get nothing done. Then I get back into it, but the writing often feels clunky. That’s the way this blog post feels.

A couple years ago I was writing the first draft of a novel set in the mid-west and wrote sixty pages while I was here. That was cool.

But rewrites, like the one I’m working on now, are more difficult because I’ve got lots of notes, or I want to print out some pages and can’t, or I suddenly have to research something.

While I’m here, I accomplish what I can during the down time. A big thanks to Jill Kemerer, Jody Hedlund, and Natalie Bahm for keeping me on my writing toes via twitter these past twelve days. A few encouraging tweets went a long way. I rewrote five chapters. I was hoping for ten, but as Kim Stanley Robinson wrote: “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

What about you? Where did you grow up and where do you live now? And, how does your writing routine change when you are away from home?

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