Method to the Madness
Before travelling to Alaska I met with some neighbors who had homesteaded in the south-central part of the state for twenty-five years. I read Green Alaska by Nancy Lord, a well-known nonfiction Alaskan writer. I read John McPhee’s opus on the state, ordered maps from National Geographic Trails Illustrated, and surveyed the definitions of eco-specific terms pertinent to Alaska as listed in Home Ground. In short, I prepared.
Getting around by plane, train, car, and foot in Alaska, the background reading I did gave me the most basic facts and words to help me understand my surroundings. The experiences and the people added plot. The writing that carried me for weeks following my return became the essays that helped make meaning of my journey.
In October I began planning for 2010-2011—what I hope will be one to two years on the road travelling from one writing residency to the next across the United States. As I move boxes, haul trash, and deep clean the house on Fork Mountain, I’m laying the foundation for an un-tethered writer’s mind. Everything I need for the next year will fit into my station wagon. Everything else has been sold, donated, or saved is absoluately necessary. (Example of saved items: My grandmother’s chairs, 17 boxes of books, artwork, letters.)
The first stop on my journey will be one week in residency in Seaside, Oregon through Pacific University’s MFA program. As a graduate of the program, I will be able to attend limited readings and lectures in the evenings, socializing after hours with my closest writing friends. Days will be spent reading, writing, and—if I’m lucky—running on the beach.
The purpose of the Oregon residency will not be immersion in the landscape of my upbringing, as that has already been done. The purpose will be to immerse myself in the lore, facts, and history of the upper peninsula of Michigan. Since I will spend 4 ½ months in Interlochen as a Writer-in-Residence this winter. Books have been ordered, maps are in the mail, and I’m rapidly clearing my desk of various other projects so that I may begin this year-on-the-road with the clearest, unfettered intentions.
Here’s to life on the road!