Book Progress

It’s been a minute since I last posted (November 25, 2022). Happy New Year! Some of you have been kind enough to check in, see how I am and how my book writing is going. Thank you.

The boys and I are doing well. Finn turned 15, Conall reached eight, and I ignored my 66th birthday in December. We enjoyed a huge dump of snow in mid-December, but by early January it all melted off the fields. Winter, wherefore art thou? January has brought a little new snow, bu unfortunately it was followed by rain, then freezing temperatures. Right now, roads are ice rinks. Thankfully the boys and I have the fields and woods across the road to play in, regardless of weather.

I’m happy to report I’m making good progress on the book.

I’ve got nearly ten years of bits and pieces of “wolf book” writing scattered across my computer hard drive. My Research and Notes document – where I copy, paste, and link relevant articles, quotes, and whatever else catches my eye – dates back to 2014 and is now 99 pages and 33,223 words long, always growing. So much information to wade through and sort, but some real treasures! I spent much of December organizing and labeling. I also played with book structure, writing a big W on a large sheet of paper, then adding sticky notes of various colors where chapters/ideas might fit along the W (the points on the W = triggering event; first turning point; a reversal/second triggering point; second turning point, resolution. It’s a helpful visual, and stickies are easy to rearrange.

January has been productive in terms of writing. I still go in circles in my mind about structure at times, but I’m willing to let that get sorted later. My primary goal now is to create a coherent manuscript I can give to my developmental editor by March 1st. She’ll pick apart, rearrange, and make suggestions before handing it back to me for major revisions.

This afternoon I had a sign things are going well.

I was napping. (I nap most days, replenishing my cerebral-spinal fluid so I won’t have a late-in-the-day headache. My best writing occurs during evening hours.) I rarely remember my dreams. But this afternoon I dreamed I was a teen, living in my childhood home. A neighbor, for whom I babysat occasionally but didn’t otherwise know well, appeared on the scene. He was explaining to my parents that he had just completed a writers residency at Mt. Rainier. “Writing and Mt. Rainier??!” I shouted excitedly in the dream, waking myself up.

I may have shouted that last phrase out loud, because Conall jumped on my bed and lay next to me with a look of concern. As I rubbed his cheeks and ears, I giggled to myself at the dream and the phrase. Of course writing and Mt. Rainier! Or, more precisely, writing about Mt. Rainier. I’ve spent the last week writing and revising a chapter about a 1997 adventure run, a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. I learned so much about myself, others, and most of all, nature during that 18-hour ordeal.

My dream was telling me, pointedly, that next I should write about running around Mt. Rainier on the 93-mile Wonderland Trail. If course! I hadn’t included Mt. Rainier on a sticky. Most importantly, Rainier is where I learned to appreciate running trails through abundant mountain wildflowers. It’s when I first realized I needed more of that in my life.

Keep in mind: even though I call it the wolf book, the working title of my book-in-progress is Wild Running: Meditations on the Natural World. (Thank you, Susan T, for that suggestion.) Running is the major theme; dogs and wolves, nature and wildlife, and finding place and purpose in life are major threads. Wolves were a big part of the natural world I moved to (Idaho’s mountains) and moved through as a trail runner. It was while running an Idaho forest trail with my dogs that I had a magical, up-close encounter with a wolf. I occasionally heard their howls from my house. But before all that, while living in Washington and growing as a trail runner, I had to learn how to trust and rely on myself to run smartly through wilderness full of wildlife. The Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier were among my favorite teachers, along with my Alaskan Malamutes Maia and Meadow.

If I’m dreaming about writing, if I eager to get back to the computer each day (and I am), I’m approaching flow.

I remember well, while writing my first book, that rare and wonderful state of flow. All I wanted to do was write and the writing came easy. I often forgot to eat. I had to force myself to stop late at night and go to bed. Writing flow is a lot like running flow, or runner’s high. It’s a wonderful feeling where everything works and feels easy. I’m excited to hop on that wave again, see where the ride takes me this time.

That’s my update for now. I appreciate knowing my WordPress family is out there cheering me on. In December I tried to keep up with your posts, but this month? I’m truly sorry, but being on the cusp of flow, maybe even already there, nothing – not even my dear blogger friends – can distract me until I hammer out a manuscript. Well, okay, the boys and our collective need to move in the outdoors every day will distract me. But that’s it! I hope to be a regular blog reader and commenter again in March.

I leave you with several photos taken this month. The feature photo was taken December 29th, before December’s big dump of snow melted in unseasonably warm weather. It shows dog tracks and snowshoe tracks. When the landscape is covered in snow, I usually let Conall lead us wherever he wants to go, no matter how meandering, although I don’t follow every one of his minor side tracks. If the snow is deep enough for me to wear snowshoes, Finn usually tucks right behind me for easier footing. On December 29th, we were following tracks set over the previous few days. The rest of the photos are scenes from the fields and woods we romp through daily, so pretty in winter.

Barn in snow-covered field with trees and dog.
Stopping to admire a barn on our morning run. January 8, 2023.
Frozen, snow-covered pond, trees, clouds and morning sun beyond.
A frozen pond we passed during our run. January 8, 2023.
Long shadows of woman and two dogs against a snowy field.
Playing with shadows while walking the boys in the late afternoon, January 8, 2023.
Alaskan Malamute running on path near pond and trees.
Following Conall on another morning run, January 10, 2023.
Sun through trees, dog, pond with shadows.
Another early morning run with Conall, the sun casting long shadows over a pond. January 11, 2023.
Two dogs on snow among trees searching for snowshoe hare pellets to eat.
An afternoon walk with the boys where Snowshoe hares leave them lots of pellet treats. January 11, 2023.
Two dogs in snow-covered field, one rolling with joy.
Even when the sky is gray and the snow crusty, Finn’s in his own state of happy flow. January 14, 2023.
Two dogs in snow-covered field, one digging into leaves and dirt below the snow.
Finn wanting a treat while he and I wait for Conall to finish digging after something that,
thankfully, got away. January 14, 2023.
Snow-covered field and iced-over pond with frost-covered trees beyond.
Even when the sky is the color of pewter, it’s beautiful out there. January 14, 2023.

14 thoughts on “Book Progress”

      1. As your note showed up on my computer, I was reading this snippet from a letter to the editor of VTDigger, a Vermont-focused online newspaper: “I’ve never heard anyone say, ‘Great, we’re having slush,’ but that’s exactly what we’re having, at least until it turns to ice or mud, and we’d better get used to it.”

        Liked by 1 person

      2. People can deny climate change all they want but we’re living it up here. We haven’t had a decent winter snow total for at least a decade.


  1. Good luck with your book. This is a terrific passage: “Writing flow is a lot like running flow, or runner’s high. It’s a wonderful feeling where everything works and feels easy. I’m excited to hop on that wave again, see where the ride takes me this time.” Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hooray on the update and you are in the flow!!!! That is awesome and exciting. The theme of your books sounds really wonderful and you’ve got a lot of great stories to flesh out. Rah, rah hiss boom bah. That is me cheerleading you along.

    Liked by 1 person

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