Greetings to all on a fine September eve. I just want to start this blog off talking about the writer’s journey. I have been trying over the course of the last few months to reconcile so much of it. I’ve been catching snippets of writing advice here and there and some of it has really struck me.
First of all, I am learning that consistency is key. A writer has to consistently show up, Sometimes it is done with gusto and panoche, and at other times it can feel like a face flop. Consistency can be synonymous with perseverance. From what I am gathering, most blogs do not succeed because most writers quit.
Note to all: I have been slacking.
The second thing I am learning is that one must create more than they consume. If one wants to be a content creator than quite earnestly one must create. I’ve spent a lot of time scrolling other’s media content and reading the written word, but none of this has been done with mindfulness, purposefulness, or any ounce of intent.
I like to think of all the media I am consuming as comparable to my usage of the Pinterest app. How many pins do I have? How many of them have I actually tried? If there is a huge gap between what I am mentally processing, and what I am tangibly producing than that is a problem. There has got to be that healthy balance between consumption and production. It’s not all about me, but it certainly is not all about the other either. I also need to make social media work for me and not the other way around. A good question to ask is:
Have I furthered myself with social media today, or hindered myself?
Am I building readership in a way that is meaningful and genuine?
I find the honest answer to be that I have hindered myself. Interaction is essential for every writer of course, but I must create as much as I consume and continue to do so with mindfulness.
Another thing I am discovering about writing is that the reclusive gig can only get one so far. One must live and commune with society and nature to truly grasp moments of inspiration. I can’t tell you how many characters I have been inspired to draft just by doing something as simple as riding the bus or talking with strangers.
So, my dreams are humble. I have a favorite bookstore in Jackson, Wyoming and my dream is to have a book there some day. While I was there I saw another writer approach the staff about a book she had written and I thought, “that will be me.”
Over the weekend, my family and I drove to the Jackson farmers market and were slated to meet in an hour and a half. I of course, did not have my phone and am not the best at configuring time. My family knew they could find me at the bookstore and there I was.
My daughter and I did do a little bit of window shopping while we were in Jackson. I was ecstatic to hear her say (after we had consumed our share of a caramel apple and some rocky road fudge) that she felt like our place was back with the books, and I could not have agreed more.
I was feeling so inspired by the Indie non-fiction and fiction section. I did obtain a Pulitzer Prize winning book for my reading pleasure titled, The Overstory, that received pages of positive reviews. The ones that drew me in were:
“Know that reading The Overstory will convince you that you walk among gods every time you enter a forest.”
“Abundant creativity that restores faith in the human endeavor.”
“Powers presents the treacherous, denuded slope on which humankind has built its dreams, and offers an intricated meditation on extinction, survival, and transcendence.”
“A visionary accessible legend for the planet that owns us, its exaltation and its peril.”
Anyway, I shall let you know if the read stacks up to the reviews but it sounds like something that is much needed and right up my alley at this juncture.
As for getting outside, my husband built a sheep camp and we dragged it along with us to Star Valley and to our camp near the Gros Ventre (pronounced Grow Vont) river and Kelly, Wyoming where my family meets every September.
I don’t know what it is about going camping in Wyoming, but my husband’s sheep camp always garners a lot of attention. Quite literally we had people approach us many times about his work. One guy drove by our camp about eight times and finally started asking my husband about the project and asked if he could have a tour. He later brought his wife and she had a tour also.
I think we gave four or five tours this trip and if my husband was not being approached about building his sheep camp we’d get a thumbs up or a holler, “nice camp!” One guy told us we got the loop B camper award and another guy wanted to have a look-see while we were at the gas station. Twice, I recall cooking outside on the camp chef while my husband was rattling off with some old timer about the sheep camp.
My husband was also given some business advice about his product potential and how he needs to start building more and marketing. Which is an idea he has toyed with, although not so much on a mass scale. The truth is most trailers you buy are trash. My dad has often joked that camp trailers are the most expensive piece of hud (he used another word) you will ever buy. I had to agree that our little sheep shack was built by a craftsman. Aka. my husband.
My point here is not to brag up my husband’s sheep shack but to tie in more advice I have heard about social media and blogging. What’s your product? I know what my husband’s would be. Anyway, an unintended consequence of our trip to Wyoming was that it was good for PR. I am realizing that my husband is far too humble to feel comfortable promoting himself and would not know where to get started with the social media bit, he’s also not impassioned with his current job, so I’m going to have to help him out.
So, another project I am working on is helping my husband get his sheep camp work out there. I am currently trying to work on a video collaboration with my daughter about his build from start to finish. Her Marine videography skills will come in handy with our humble YouTube video. I am thinking that a little Eddie Rabbit is in order. Although the mood at camp this trip was all about the Barr Brothers. If you are not listening to the Barr brothers on Pandora you are missing out.
Also, if we are going to keep getting inquiries about tours I know I need to jump up the decor in the sheep camp. I can’t say that people were necessarily looking at the curtains, rugs and bedding but my piles of sleeping bags and tattered old yellow blanket weren’t quite cutting it with the ambience. I have a quilt project that I designed that is all measured and plotted out on a graph paper, but it’s more than time to get that thing started. Like yesterday.
I will be blogging about this as well, because primarily I write what I know, and what I know is the West. My favorite stories have always been about Wyoming. I added “sheep camp life” to my bio on Instagram but do not know if this will confuse people because we are not sheep herders lol. However, I do find myself feeling amused when I get caught in a traffic jam of sheep or I have to shoo cows away on many of my husband and I’s camping expeditions. We have toyed with the idea of getting Alpacas.
Most of the people who approached my husband about his sheep camp were from the older generation. This is the thing about my husband, he was born in the wrong time. Sheep camp talk would turn into talk about Westerns and the origin of my husband’s name-Shane. I think John Wayne came up and another guy was telling us all about the Louis L’ Amour books that he and his wife were reading. One guy wore an NRA hat, and part of me hung my head low.
I realized that I over generalized a generation. We did have a common thread that went beyond the political or the NRA. I actually started feeling that soft spot for the last of this breed, so to speak. I genuinely enjoyed their company and hearing their stories. The sheep camp my husband had built reminded them of one they could recall. A camp they’d owned once, their dad, their grandpa, or whatever. My husband’s catharsis was “this is why I built this.” He was seeing a higher purpose in building something that was not just for his benefit. He said that soon no one would recall the nostalgia of the old time sheep herder shacks like the one he had duplicated.
Vintage Sheep Shack, Buffalo Bill Museum. Cody, Wyoming
Anyway, since I changed part of my Insta bio to “sheep camp life” I’m going to try to post some of our memories in the sheep camp with my Western writing gig. Ha! ha! Maybe throw in some stuff about dutch oven cooking. I did do seven days of camp meals and barbecued biscuits on the grill. I tell you what, muenster cheese tastes great in dutch oven purple potatoes. The potatoes were given to me by a lady I had conversed with on a gas station bench in Idaho while eating square ice cream. She also gave me some orange cherry tomatoes and bunches of garlic.
The point is I left Wyoming and Idaho feeling inspired and have so much more to write about, but for now pictures are going to have to be worth a thousand words. It was the little things that got to me. Like my grandmother’s ability to still cook cutties (cutthroats) on cast iron at eighty-seven years old. She is such a bad ass. Mainly, ideas have been brewing in my head ever since the trip.
Another trip highlight was watching my daughter ditch her electronic device and commune with the lakes and nature. She also sang by firelight with her Grandpa to his guitar and the moment was priceless. This was something I loved to do as a child.
We had moose at camp, a torrential rain storm, and a portion of my family had a bear run through their picnic site. My dad chased off a grizzly once and this year it was my uncle’s turn to chase off a black bear.
If the bear had ever made it’s way to the picnic basket it was doomed because raiding picnics can be habit forming. The abandoned picnic belonged to some easterners and an angry woman could be heard yelling in the background in a strong Bostonian accent that “she’d had enough” and was going back to the Holiday Inn.
I suppose they may have missed the ranger speech about keeping your food condensed and leaving the area with your food on you. It takes strength. My dad had to hold his ground with a grizzly bear and his tackle box. He could have easily allowed the bear to take his tackle and made a beeline for it.
As usual, more family stories accumulated, but the saddest story was that my grandmother may not make it to Wyoming ever again with growing signs of congestive heart failure and a cancer prognosis that everyone has been keeping on the DL. My grandma is the entire reason we do Wyoming. She’s been doing Wyoming since she was a little girl. My great-grandparents were doing Wyoming. This was the greatest gift she ever gave us.
It was a special year and a lot of photos were taken and consolidated. That is what troubles me. This year felt like such an unspoken, underlying, urgency to soak it all in, document everything, grasp everything, and to not take a single moment for granted. I found myself fighting emotions a few times, but I was not going to allow my tears to get to me because everything I loved was all right there in front of me.
There will be plenty of time for emotions when I cross the bridge that I know is coming. Which reminds me of a song my husband and I were pondering as we drove across the Wyoming prairie. I even noticed my husband was getting a little wet around the eyes, which rarely happens.
Anyway, as usual, Wyoming did not disappoint and thank you all so much for allowing me to gush about my passions, sentiments, and ideas with whomever may be reading!
Until next post!