Monday, March 29, 2010

The (outdoor) Writing Life

I love this writing life. The best part of writing stories; fiction and creative nonfiction, I get to live my life twice. When I wrote last week’s column about fishing I spent hours thinking and writing about my family summer vacations as a kid. Much of what I thought about and wrote didn’t make it into the final version, however, I called my sister and brother to ask what they remembered about summer vacations and lack of fishing on these vacations.

The story I’ve been working on for the last few weeks and sending to a few magazines is Steamboat Stories. I read it in Writer’s Group today and love remembering these stories from one of the years I lived in Steamboat Springs: skiing with friends and Olympians, closing day at the mountain and getting silly (skiing with a backpack filled with beer, who does this?). I only remember the good times.

I vaguely remember the bad or difficult times for these stories. Maybe I’ll use them in a fiction novel when I’m old and bitter; not there yet.

Writing is hard and it doesn’t pay the mortgage. It’s okay. Tomorrow I’ll be at it again, writing as much as I can squeeze in, submitting stories to literary magazines with the hope they will say YES!, and trying to get to work on time.

“Do you know how lucky you are? You're a writer. You get to live life twice. Who else can do that?” Dawson’s Creek (Love this Show)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Steamboat Stories

An excerpt from Steamboat Stories (a chapter in my book):


I meet Steve in the lift line at Burgess Creek on a sunny January late morning. I don’t hear his question at first but a man with a hat and goggles is looking my direction with the body language of someone asking me something, I just can’t hear what he is saying with my helmet on.



I laugh because, yes, indeed, I am single, but what he is really asking is if I want to ride the chairlift with him. There isn't a line of people; in fact, there are no other people around except for the lift attendant.

“Yes, wanna go up together?”

And we do.

The two things I notice about Steve right away: he has an amazing smile and he is not wearing a helmet.

We start typical chairlift talk.

Phase 1: We talk about how our day was going, what trails are good.

Phase 2: We ask each, "Where do you live?"

Phase 3: He lives in Steamboat - I ask how long he has lived here and what he does for work? We try to figure out if we might know each other through mutual friends.

Phase 4: We don't know any of the same people so when he asks my name my first instinct is to make up one. But he is cute and makes me laugh by quoting 80s movies, so I tell the truth.

Monday, March 22, 2010

"I love your work" and Editors

I’ve read so many books in my day and as someone who hopes to one day publish a book of stories (aka Memoirs) I always pay special attention to the dedication page and the forward and prologue of any book I read.

I always wondered about the over thankfulness to editors. I thought it was over done; over thanked. But now I understand.

I’m getting a story published in an online publication: Whistling Fire. The original story I sent to them called, Making a Home Out West detailing my story from the beginning: moving to a ski town, then another, and another. The editor told me to cut to the chase, don’t tell everything. I started, again, at the end of the beginning.

About editors, I’m thankful to the ones who edit my outdoor column each week at the Sky Hi Daily News. We writers, we think our stories are so interesting, so perfect; but the truth, they always need editing.

So today, I’m thankful for editors. And hopefully one day, an editor in some publishing house will read my query: Continental Quotient, my book of stories about living in mountain towns, and maybe, perhaps, some day, say, we want your book. For all my commas, semicolons, and misplace modifiers, they will still like my work and say that word, all us writers want to hear: Yes.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Fishing Story

This week I'm writing a story on fishing. I dated a man who fished. I would row or paddle us out to the center of Mount Blue Pond in Maine and he would fish. I liked the exercise of rowing and paddling, however, I didn't like being quiet and burning to a crisp in the sun while said boyfriend, fished.

There wasn't anything really fun about it. But after talking to the Dale and Tami Casteel at Beacon's Landing on Lake Granby, I might try fishing this year.

The fun part about writing this week's column is the research. It also makes me want to know why I didn't grow up fishing. I talked to my brother and aunt about fishing when we were kids. I never did it and I don't know why. I'm going to keep digging and hopefully a story will emerge.

I love remembering. I love talking about family vacations and what I did as a kid. My brother told me a story today about how he and his friend Justin would fish from the concrete pier on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh where we lived until I was 13. Just by his quick mention of that pier reminds me of so many family stories, memories of that lake where we swam; and it was just a mile down the road from our house. How lucky we were to live on a lake. I remember a life guard carrying a girl out of the water when she cut her foot on ice. Oh, the drama of that day.
Jason isn't a fisherman despite a few days fishing with our grandfather and some fishing trips with friends when he lived in Maryland. He's a beach person. So is my sister.

I never fished. I don't think I ever held a fishing pole in my hand.

But now I want to try it. When I lived in Steamboat and would tube down the Yampa River with friends, I was always amazed at the women flyfishermen we would float past. I could be a flyfisher-woman. I might just get my fishing license this year.