Alaska 2010: Planning 3
[Many thanks for your kind sleep wishes. I was granted 10 hours of sleep last night, aided by 5mg of melatonin.]
That quickly, I have shifted gears. It’s 2 weeks to departure and I’m taking posters off the walls in my office, packing up books, and putting away clothes. There’s the oil change for the Volvo, forwarding my mail, paying bills in advance—all of it listed throughout the days between now and Alaska. I won’t have Internet or phone service at every bend in the road, so I need addresses and phone numbers and directions now, even though some stops don’t happen 2 months from now.
Being able to work on my collection of short stories while also travelling takes a specific attention to packing and that, more than anything, takes time. After a long day of teaching, which included observations by the department chair and an all-majors group lesson, I return to campus and unlock the doors of The Writing House after hours. I am here to photocopy excerpts from Jerry Denis’ The Living Great Lakes. Why? Because I have a list of about half-a-dozen Michigan-related short-shorts I want to write and they’re not going to get done while I’m also teaching. The pages I’ve dog-eared in his book will give me the facts for the foundation of the stories.
I also photocopy pertinent Alaska terms from the dictionary edited by Barry Lopez, Home Ground, a book I highly recommend for all writers and nature lovers. Last year’s readers will remember how useful this text was as I encountered new ecological and geological features in The Last Frontier. These resources alone will provide the information I need for pages and pages of fiction and nonfiction—but I don’t have room to bring the entire books, so the most important pages will have to suffice.
Next, there is the selection of very fine yet “disposable” fiction. This, of course, means short stories from magazines and literary journals of high quality that I can give away to friends as soon as I finish them. Examples: the 2010 Atlantic Monthly fiction issue, a stack of 10 Harper’s short stories, and 3 print issues of Electric Literature. The war books, though not disposable, are: We Were One: Shoulder to Shoulder with the Marines who Took Fallujah and Heroes Among Us: Firsthand Accounts of Combat from America’s Most Decorated Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Alaska books, also not disposable, are: Cold Flashes Anthology and Yukon Alone.
It’s a carefully selected book list and one I’ll be proud to shoulder—literally—the pages of. Next up? Compiling war quotes and data (which, at present, are scrawled on giant pieces of butcher paper taped to the walls of my bedroom).