Writing Out Loud

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Trees...the sun and I...

For all who wonder what the purpose is of writing a book, I don’t have a ready answer, as the motivation is unique to each writer. A piece of writing can be the result of sudden inspiration, a message that absolutely must be shared, or a story that just won’t go away until it’s consigned to paper or word processing screen. Some writers become wildly successful, while others enjoy a modest sense of accomplishment. Then there are those who write simply because they have something to say that they think is important enough to share, and they don’t really care if they make a dime.

I’ve come to believe that what a person chooses to write about also says a lot about his or her reason for doing it. In my case, I write primarily about Nature. That takes the literary mantra “Write about what you know” to a whole new level, as I don’t just write about something I know a lot about but because it makes more sense to me than anything else does, especially now in these very troubled times, when NOTHING “out there” makes much sense. And when something makes that much sense and leaves no room for doubt, well, the words just flow.

That’s how it is with Nature and me: I get her and she gets me. And together, we make some pretty good music. In our world, there are no loud voices or disputes, and other than birds twittering, the wind blowing in the tops of pine trees, or the rustling of chipmunks chasing each other through the dry leaves, there is no sound at all. The benefit of that? I get to hear what my thoughts sound like, and what’s more, I hear whatever it is that Nature is trying to tell me. We have secrets, she and I, and from time to time, we share a few, and that is why I wrote this book.

It was time to let others in on it…





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Full Circle


Although I’d already received a few proofs of my first book, it was still a big thrill to hold the final and finished copy in my hands. I was immediately struck by the enormity of the accomplishment, of how this apparently diminutive thing represents the culmination of several years of work that involved seeing, thinking, and feeling to the degree that would allow others in to the process. What I was holding in my hands wasn’t just a collection of bound pages with a pretty cover but a testament to perseverance and a need to share a part of myself in a more lasting way.

I’d be less than honest, though, with both myself and anyone who chooses to buy the book if I said that it didn’t allow me to prove something to myself. It did. Those who know me know that I don’t come from a privileged background but rather from people who worked in the mills and for whom putting food on the table was a big accomplishment and something to be proud of, which it certainly was. My parents had both gotten very little education due to reasons that will forever remain a mystery to me. But like most underprivileged parents of that time, they hoped for more for me. And despite the many detours I’ve taken along the journey of my own life, I never lost sight of that fact nor did I ever stop feeling the pull toward some sort of accomplishment that would have made them both so proud.

That’s what this book symbolizes to me. As I’ve gone through it, revisiting the times that inspired the words that line its pages, going back to where I was when inspiration washed over me, I realize that, aside from trying to perpetuate my great love of nature and bringing it to readers in a different form, it has a much simpler and more organic meaning for me: it’s the fulfillment of a life’s dream, one that grew from two people’s desire to see their child do better than they had. Somewhere along the way, along the timeline of a young girl who had been given no reason to believe that she could author her own life, words happened. Words…something she could work with, manipulate, order, get to do her bidding, and shape her life.

I remember walking home from the park with my mother one summer afternoon and coming  upon a pile of rubbish that someone had deposited on the side of the street to be picked up by the trash collector. On top of heap sat a single book with dark blue binding and many pages. I was just 5 years old and not yet in school, but I picked the book up and riffled through it, wishing I could read the lines on those pages. That was 61 years ago, and I’ve held many other books since then that captured my imagination and took me to new places.

Now I hold in my hands a book that I wrote myself. My circle is complete.

From the Urban Wilderness: Life in the Southern Maine Woods


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After a Journey

That title also happens to introduce one of my favorite poems by Thomas Hardy. In it, he reminisces about his final years with his wife before her death and laments that he could have cherished their moments together more while they were taking place.

My title sums up the end of a different type of journey, however, namely, the finishing of another book, when I am finally able to enjoy the calm but richly full feeling of fulfilment and that accompanies the completion of any accomplishment. It strikes me, though, that no journey, be it literal or metaphorical, ever really ends, for there is never an ultimate destination beyond which we can no longer move. All roads lead somewhere, but they also all lead back to where they started, opening up even more possibilities on all sides.

When I finish a story, I stand at the end of yet another long walk, seeing lots more road ahead of me, as well as all the different other directions I might have headed off in. For writing, like roads, is never final. There is never a “last word,” or a true “The End.” Words are audible and visual forms of energy. And if words should ever fail us, like the energy that enables the flower or the tree to mesmerize us, they won’t die but simply lie in wait for the next traveler upon which to attach themselves.

Like a cat moving along through underbrush unwittingly gathering seeds and other bits of potential new plants, I move along gathering ideas. For now, I will pause and take stock, assess and reevaluate. And then, before too much more time elapses, I pick up my walking stick and set out anew to see what awaits me there along the many secret paths which are, as long as I am able to travel them, all mine and mine alone.


Photo Copyright 2014-Rachel Lovejoy

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