In The Writer's World

The State of the State

Seasons change rapidly around here. In August we experienced three scalding weekends, while the time between them often gave us chilly mornings. It’s cooler now, and one doubts one will see 100-degree days again any time soon.

Harvest began nearly two weeks ago out in Emma Golden’s wine country. I don’t think it has ever been this early. My friend Ginny Adelsheim tells me it was once before, back in 1992. That was a damn hot year, but I don’t remember specifics.

August saw another road trip. This time three of my closest buddies and I packed up and drove to Joseph, Oregon, a truly incredible little oasis in the middle of nowhere that is a world-renown art community.

Beautiful downtown Joseph, a melding of art and cowboys in a beautiful setting.

Beautiful downtown Joseph, a melding of art and cowboys in a beautiful setting.

I had been wanting to visit this place ever since I first heard about the brass foundry there. It is hard to imagine a more gorgeous setting–a small, late 19th century western town in some of the most beautiful country on the planet. We toured the Valley Foundry, explored galleries, rode a gondola to the top of Mt. Howard, hiked, and took a short side trip to Imnaha, where the general store holds an annual rattlesnake killing contest. (I’m siding with the snakes. I mean, really, just leave the poor things alone! But it is local color, and I doubt anyone cares what I think about it.)

We returned home to find a several-page feature spread of Joseph and Wallowa County in the August issue of Sunset magazine. I’m thinking we beat the rush.

The state of the Novel

Much progress on the novel, due in part to the summer breaks I enjoyed during the past three months. It’s always difficult to write–by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. But we storytellers keep at it because we have to. I have tried to imagine a life without writing. It just doesn’t work.

Imnaha, Oregon is small but has a tremendous attitude. As seen, its general store/tavern has been here for 112 years. There isn't much else except beautiful wild West scenery.

Imnaha, Oregon is small but has a tremendous attitude. As seen, its general store/tavern has been here for 112 years. There isn’t much else except beautiful Wild West scenery.

I am one-third through the draft of the new book, and very excited for the possibilities. Through some women I met at the local chapter of Sisters in Crime, I was invited to join a writer’s critique group. It’s fun getting to know the new people, and having some like-minded, tortured souls to hang out with. Not to mention a room full of really good writers. This is the kind of thing that helps us all improve, and keeps us going.

Other Matters of Interest

Portland’s theatre season has begun. This year I’ve added a couple more theatres to the roster, and am enjoying it more than ever.  The more one is around it, the better it gets. It is possible to dig deeper into all aspects of this subject as I become more familiar with the different venues and the work they do. Add to that familiarity with the actors and the excitement that comes from watching their growth.

Ultimately, however, the play’s the thing. Thornton Wilder once called theatre “the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” The impact of a good play is immediate, visceral, and real. It can change us and how we view the world.

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  • Marg says:

    It was a wonderful trip. Beautiful country with great friends.

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