After 21 days of rafting the Colorado River, I rolled across the country with a couple of fine traveling companions. I got home the night before Thanksgiving and was so happy to see my lovely wife. My daughter was asleep, but I hugged her and kissed her anyway.Read More
That ripping sound I heard when I bent over must have been a tear in the time-space continuum. When next I looked up, I found myself six weeks in the future.Read More
I had the chance to jump on the Upper Gauley last Friday–in a Shredder no less. It’s the first time I’ve been on it this fall and the first time I’ve done it a Shredder since the mid-90’s. It was as fun and satisfying as I remember.
Any time there is a layoff between Gauley runs, I run through all the worst case scenarios in my mind. Those melt away with the first rapids. There is nothing like the Gauley River.
The Gauley, or the New River, or the Upper Yough in Maryland all do the same thing. They help me forget about the day to day stuff for a while and shift the focus onto things metaphysical. Not in heavy sort of way, just a gentle reminder of what’s real and manufactured. It’s a way to take a break from reality to better understand it.
It makes it just a little easier to sit down at the keyboard and write. Thanks goes out to Jim Maxwell for making the call Thursday night and setting things in motion.
They say that the road ain’t no place to start a family.
–Steve Perry, lead singer of Journey.
The road is also no place for me to start a story. We just got back from Nags Head, NC where we visited with some old friends. I always marvel at how much I enjoy seeing those guys. This time our daughters, all around the 3 year mark played together and oozed cuteness wherever they trod. As much a success as the child’s play was, the writing suffered. I managed about 400 words during bed time one night and that was it. I didn’t get the opportunity to feel my way through the beginning of the story. The results were unsatisfactory, but at least they were something.
The weather was spectacular, not so much in a sunny paradise, brilliant sunset way, but in a rainy, windy, giant waves rolling in kind of way. Even so, it was a nice trip.
I also managed to read a hundred or so pages in Neal Stephenson’s Anathem. Good stuff. As he did with Quicksilver, Stephenson captivated me with his worldbuilding that is both alien and comfortably familiar–no small feat. I like to think of it as research.
I had really hoped that our two week trip to Maine wouldn’t prove too much of an interruption. I thought I would write more. I was wrong. We rolled back into WV last night and I am back in my dedicated writing space today. It’s a 10×10 shed that I wired, insulated and paneled. We call it the man shack. That’s a horrible name, but, alas, it has stuck.
Today I’m back at the writing and it feels good. I’ve missed the routine, the story. I definitely had some crises of confidence while on the road, but that always seems to go hand in hand with not writing. I get why people stop writing. I get why people never start. I get why people get mired in the middle of their work and give up.
I have forced myself to begin writing when I’ve been utterly exhausted, when I’ve felt my soul as thin as a playing card, when nothing has seemed worth enduring for another five minutes . . . and somehow the activity of writing changes everything. Or appears to do so.
(“Joyce Carol Oates” in George Plimpton, ed., Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, 1989)
Amen. Off to write.