Wild Words . . . Photos & Fine Art

Co-creating by heart with sandy cathcart through writers helps and art info, focusing on all things wild.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Here's Lookin at ya!

I'm off to the MountainTop, but I just had to share this photo of a very special wolf with you before I leave.

I plan to post again in two days. See ya then!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Alta Lake - Part I

I’m Back!

Sorry for the long delay in posting.

I decided to take a bit longer in the wilderness and also in application time. For you writers out there, I think you will find the following post interesting and/or helpful to your own writing.

This trip was about Cat and me getting out in the wilderness for some connection and down time, but it was also about reconnecting with my in-process book, Wild Women. Even while I was still climbing the mountain heading into camp, I found the missing pieces of my story. It’s amazing what a difference it can make to get out into the place you are writing about. It brings back all the passion. The story started coming together as I placed one foot in front of another to conquer the steep grade.

After our wrangler set up camp in a disappointing spot barely 20 feet off the trail in a pile of shale, Cat found the most amazing campsite overlooking three lakes on one side of the bluff and Alta Lake on the close side. We moved camp the next morning. Check out the photo. Wow! (I apologize for the poorer quality of photos. My camera was in the shop during this trip.)

Cat and I spent the first five days hanging around camp enjoying the view. Cat and I watched a herd of elk playing in one of the lakes below us while pika chattered at us from a nearby boulder. I also spent a lot of time floating on my air mattress across the clear water of Alta Lake. The water is so clear, in fact, that it felt as if I was walking into the sky every time we approached the shore to fill a bucket with water.

Using my little Handspring machine and a portable keyboard (both fit easily into a coat pocket), I used the mornings to capture the sights, sounds, smells and essence of the wilderness for my book.

Our friend Jim Anderson (fellow wilderness lover and awesome carving artist) joined us for a few hours on Sunday.

I spent one special night sleeping beneath the stars, watching them come on one at a time until a full moon turned the entire scene into a wonderland. I couldn’t resist getting up and taking a moonlight hike around Alta. Reflected moonlight made some of the trees on the other side of the lake look as if little lanterns were swinging from their branches. Bats hummed back and forth across the water and a coyote howled in the distance. Ahhhhhhhhhh

On Wednesday, I finally left camp and took a 12-mile hike down to Boston Bluff and back, babying my injured knee. Several trees have tumbled across Camp Ivern making it look as wild as when I first set eyes on it. I drank from the waterfall and filled my reserve bottles, then I set off toward the Bluff.

So much has changed at Camp Ivern that I was afraid the Bluff had suffered the same fate. But not so. The Bluff is still as awe inspiring as ever. I sat on the far edge, enjoying the view, painting and writing, until I realized the sun was getting low over Devil’s Peak. I hightailed it out of there, stopping once at Buckley Springs for more water, once at Middle Lake for a granola bar, and lastly at Cliff Lake where I teetered between the decision to camp for the night or head on to camp. I opted for the latter, but the last two miles of uphill trail was pure torture as I tried to beat the sunset back to camp.

Cat was waiting with arms crossed over his chest when I returned well after dark. Darn. He hates it when I worry him like that. But he got over it soon enough and while we ate dinner he shared the story of his day on top of Devil’s Peak enjoying a view of Mount McLoughlin, Mount Shasta and the Crater Lake Rim.

Next post, I’ll tell you about the surprising rest of our trip, but for now, I’d like to share what I learned that was helpful to my writing.

1. I learned to set reasonable goals.

This may sound like a no brainer. But I honestly didn’t realize what impossible goals I’ve been setting for myself until I faced climbing that steep grade to camp. It’s uphill the entire three miles. Three miles used to be a short hike for me, but I blew out my knee while running trail a few days before last Easter. I’m still having a lot of trouble and pain with it. The accident itself was a reality check. I should have been happy walking, but no, I had decided I could force my body into submission the same as I used to do in my younger days. My body rebelled and down I went.

So, I set short goals on this hike. I would pick out a tree up ahead and tell myself to get to it and stop for three breaths. Then I’d pick out another tree. I did this all the way up the hill and made it to camp in the same time as the horses. On Wednesday I did a grueling 12-mile hike with the same standard.

The second day of the trip, I accomplished all three of my goals: (1) move camp, (2) blow up my air mattress, and (3) find the deepest part of Alta Lake. It was the first time in four years I accomplished all my daily goals.

Now, that I’ve returned home, I’m learning to say “no” to some things and setting more reasonable goals. I’m hoping to complete Wild Women by the end of the month. That’s why I haven’t been posting as regularly. I’m slowly working my internet posts back into my goals. It feels so good to accomplish things instead of always being behind.

2. Writing honestly is hard work.

I’m being more truthful in this book than I’ve been in a long time. Instead of painting myself as a fearless, energetic, outdoor woman, I’m letting you see the truth of the fear I must daily overcome, and I’m allowing my readers to see a deeper part of me than just the surface.

With that said, I’ve discovered that I’m constantly closing that door of honesty, so I’m doing quite a bit of back tracking in order to keep the story honest.

If you’re still not sure what I mean, it’s like when you’ve written something and bared your soul and then you think, “Okay, that’s enough. I don’t want anyone to see deeper into me than that,” and you switch gears and the story suddenly loses its passion. That’s because it’s lost its honesty.

3. Formulas and rules sometimes need to be broken.

Formula books may work for a lot of things, but they are disaster if you want to write a book with power. In writing Wild Women, I’ve gotten away from the formulas. I’ve even purposely broken some rules. But…I’ve broken the rules on purpose, not because I don’t know how to keep them. That’s one thing I always point out to my students. Know the rules before you break them.

4. Getting away from the computer is a must.

I’ve discovered that it’s important for me to get away from the computer and out into the world I’m writing about. This last week, I spent three days talking with a different wild woman each day, then I had to take time to process all that talking and thinking before weaving it back into my story.

After printing out a hard copy, this last week, I took a yellow highlighter and went over the chapters, writing a rough outline and marking anything that stood out to me. In doing so, I discovered questions that will need addressed in the second half of the book.

This coming week, I’m taking a couple of days to look over the questions and pray and consider which ones I actually have answers for and which ones I don’t. In keeping with the honesty of the book, I plan to only answer the questions I truly have answers for. Sometimes it’s enough to raise a question, to have a person think on something they might not have otherwise.

That’s it for today. My goal is to post another portion of this trip before the end of the week. I have a lot of good things to share with you over the next couple of months. One good way to stay tuned without having to check in, is to subscribe by using the Notify List on the left. That way, you’ll get an e-mail notice each time I post.

Enjoy the Son!