I’ve been writing almost daily for over ten years. I started after 9/11/01 to try to make sense of a world that seemed beyond understanding. Wrestling with the uncertainty of not knowing what each day may bring, I began with what I saw happening in our own back yard, in the barn and woods, in my family and in my work. Then I tapped into my memory and personal history, and the words just kept flowing.
All this has grown to over 1500 separate essays, poems and stories accompanied by backyard photographs. This is a whole lot of word harvesting, most of which exists in pixels and gigabytes, not printed on paper so no apologies are necessary to our local forests.
A few pieces have been published in really lovely publications that people actually receive in the mail, to hold in their hands while they are sitting on the toilet, or in the bath tub, or it falls onto their tummies while they are doze off at night. I know these magazines are read in doctor and dentist waiting rooms while people sit nervously waiting for a diagnosis or a painful procedure, or they are feeling so miserable, all they can do is look at pretty pictures with encouraging words.
I have had a few appreciative letters from readers reach me, addressed with only my name and the small town where I live in Washington state, with no zip code. Based on these communications, I estimate the average age of my readership to be approximately 85 years old. While that doesn’t bode well for the longevity of my potential audience, I at least know there is a growing cohort of octogenarians anticipated in the next 30+ years, myself included, so maybe there is still hope.
What to do in a day and age of electronic books, self publishing and blogging? This collection of words and photos does not have a plot line and consistent characters, no rising action, no climax, denouement and I hope, no “The End” anytime soon. I wish at times I could hold it in my hands with an actual binding and book jacket because someone else other than me decided it was worth taking a chance to publish. When a publisher actually asked me to send what I have in a significantly more organized form, I laid awake at night in a sweat trying to think up clever, pithy, “you can’t put it down” titles. No longer can I blame menopause for my insomnia — instead it is the overwhelming anxiety of any writer: the magazine article goes into the recycle bin or ends up lining the kitty litter box or bird cage, or the unsold books wind up on the remainder discount table completely unwanted and unnecessary to the well being of civilization.
It all comes down to this: what book dream can possibly be worth the life of a tree?