A time to “untangle”…

Hemingway's writing desk
Hemingway’s writing desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well, we’ve been back home for a week now following a terrific summer spent at the cottage on the lake in Michigan. Like most of the weeks this summer, the one just concluded seemed to rush by hell-bent for leather! A good portion of the week was given over to getting things unpacked, hung up, put in drawers, or stored on shelves. And usually this is the part I dread. For some reason, though, this time it wasn’t so bad.

Perhaps it’s because I knew the inevitability of the situation and that I’d be faced with doing the job sooner or later, so I opted for getting things done sooner rather than later. And, amazingly, the job wasn’t all that arduous or time-consuming. It’s quite a good feeling to put that last suitcase away and to look around my writing room and realize that I have the clutter cleared away and my bookcases are filled with old friends I’m glad to see once more.

My printer is loaded with fresh paper, awaiting some writing output by me. My writing desk is cleared of extraneous papers and folders so that I have a clear place to get some serious work done. There are, of course, the familiar photos of family and a vast array of pens and pencils at my beck and call. Living for most of three summer months in rather rustic conditions, I’m still trying to adjust once more to the wonderful comforts of home.

In the next few days I intend to begin “untangling” the mess in which the book I’m working on seems to find itself. After many starts and stops this summer, I seemed to hit dead-end after dead-end. The basic premise of the story is a good one, I think, but there are a few snarls (particularly some characters and their roles) that need to be re-thought and re-written. And now that I’m back home, unpacked and re-settled, I’ll begin in earnest to give the story another go.

On another note, yet quite similar in terms of establishing routines, the treadmill in the family room downstairs sits waiting for my return! I’ve already begun to set up a schedule for walking several days each week. Without a doubt, I actually can get more accomplished in the writing department after I’ve walked my twenty or thirty minutes in the morning. Thus, I’m looking forward to beginning again.

Perhaps, as I’m walking along, sweat dripping off my furrowed brow, I’ll figure out just how to get that story “untangled” and have it resume its flow swimmingly! Can’t wait to get going…CortlandWriter

Summer into autumn
Summer into autumn (Photo credit: blmiers2)

Hardy Boys, Chip Hilton, and Quality Teachers

A bookshelf full of dreams and all sorts of magic!

Hardy Boys on a bookshelf

Ever since junior high school, I’ve had a dream of being a writer and writing the kinds of books I loved to read. I so enjoyed my reading classes then, being introduced to authors I’d continue to enjoy for the rest of my life: Twain, Poe, O. Henry, Arthur Conan Doyle, and many, many others. Of course, my love of reading was enhanced all the more when I discovered the Hardy Boys, Chip Hilton, and even Nancy Drew back in the 6th grade! I would eagerly await the next book in the series and lose myself gloriously in each one. Often was the time I’d feign illness to stay home from school for the sole purpose of keeping up with the exploits of the Hardys, Chip Hilton and friends, or Holmes and Watson out and about in the fog shrouded streets of London.

And I had some wonderful, encouraging reading teachers during these early years who showed me it was cool to read and talk about characters in stories and look at how the stories were put together, what made them work, and what the writer had in mind in writing in the first place. Very early on, these guiding lessons helped me look at most stories and books with an eager and hungry eye. At the same time, I was developing my own interests in writing stories of my own.

Off and on for many years, I would always say that someday I’d write my own book. One year, back in the 80s, I completed a course through the Institute of Children’s Literature, which I found to be very rewarding and worthwhile. It was the first time I’d ever had professional folks read and critique my fiction. (I still have those stories, by the way.) Real-life responsibilities and time constraints always seemed to be in the way of my realizing my dream of being a writer. My retirement in 2007 from 35 years of teaching language arts and reading to junior high kids, finally provided me with the perfect opportunity to do that which I’d long ago desired: Write that book!

During the summer of 2000, I began what would be my odyssey, culminating in the publication of my first book ten years later. I started the novel during lulls in the summer school classes I was teaching and continued writing at various times at our cottage up in Michigan. The process was nothing but starts and stops time and time again. For a period of time, I even forgot about the whole thing completely.

A chance comment by my daughter a few summers ago led me to the completion of the great, unfinished manuscript. She simply asked me what ever happened to that story I’d started and had shared with her once. She told me I should finish it because she’d enjoyed what she’d read of it the one time I’d showed it to her in its incomplete state. Her words were all the motivation I needed. Thus, I was able to finish the book, which I named Black Wolf Lodge, and published it in late 2010. Fittingly, the book is dedicated to my wonderful daughter Laura.

I am now at work on my next book, as well as keeping two blogs going and simply loving it! Life’s definitely good, and somewhere, back there in the early 60s, are those great reading and English teachers who sparked me to read and write and appreciate the good written word. Thanks to them…

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