Working on my book definitely has its ups and downs. I was really on a roll for a while. Cycling stories were accumulating quickly, and it felt like good progress. I could whip out a vignette each time I sat down, and I thoroughly enjoyed reliving each one of those days of cycling. But I couldn’t see where it was going.
Time out for research. Time to do a little studying up on what makes a good memoir. What makes a compelling read. How others before me have done it. Then back to writing. Progress feels slower now, but somewhat more focused. Or that’s what I tell myself.
There is no doubt this is a long haul project. So I have decided on some shorter term goals. I am aiming to submit a story to a magazine each month, preferably one of my finished chapters. The idea is not a new concept. Even before I started my book, I envisioned targeting new publications and pitching my work. But I always chickened out in the face of writing that query letter. The process was intimidating. The odds felt daunting. The one time I did follow through, I received a prompt rejection. It wasn’t that failure that stopped me from trying again – the editor was kind enough to point out how I had missed the mark on the magazine’s audience. And he was right. He did me a favor in guiding my future submissions. I just couldn’t get up the gumption to put in the effort again.
But today I gave it another try. I found a cycling magazine that looked like a good fit, read dozens of stories from prior issues and cooked up two ideas that I thought would intrigue their readers. A short email exchange with the editor was encouraging so on the strength of that I went into action. I pulled together summaries of my proposed stories and compiled samples of photographs, maps and writing experience.
Naturally, all this took time away from actually writing my book. I’m not sure if this was actually a diversionary tactic or productive work. Time will tell if it is rewarding or discouraging. Helpful or just a detour. It’s all a big learning curve to me. For now, I can still hope. I just pressed Send.
We made the reservation weeks ago. A mid-winter weekend at Naniboujou Lodge is a treat in itself, but Mother Nature threw us a curve ball that made it picture perfect. As cross-country ski enthusiasts and lovers of winter, we cringed when we saw the forecast for continuous days in the 40s. But as visitors to the North Shore, we reveled in constant blue skies and sunshine with real warmth.
We put skiing at the top of our agenda, knowing the snow conditions were likely to suffer through the weekend. A morning ski at Oberg Mountain gave us beautiful soft snow before it got too soft and sticky.The harbor in Grand Marais sparkled in the sunshine, and the sun melted enough of the ice and snow for me to make it most of the way out to the lighthouse. It was so warm at the Java Moose that customers took their coffee drinks outside to bask in the Adirondack chairs. Could this really be mid-February?Naniboujou Lodge was a lovely oasis. The rock beach was exposed and waves crashed onto the shore. Its deliberate lack of wifi and cell service was a fine excuse to read and relax in the quiet sunroom. And because they offer only package deals in the winter, we feasted morning and evening on fine meals in the colorful dining room. What’s not to like about that?
A trip to the Pigeon River, right on the Canadian Border, necessitated a walk up to High Falls. The warm weather had released sections of ice over the waterfall, giving us a view of the rushing water. It was easy to stop and look around amid the din of the falls in the mild temperatures.
The Witch Tree was nearby, and Rich knew how to find it. So we made a trek through soft, wet snow to its sacred location. There were signs informing us of its significance to the Ojibwe people, and asking us to remain silent and refrain from smoking. But there was a good platform from which to view the tree from a respectful distance. I’d seen many photos of the tree before, but never actually laid eyes on it in person.
The afternoon sunshine lured me outside once more. Judge Magney State Park was just across the road, and I followed the hiking trail up the Brule River. It was pretty easy going for the most part, with well packed snow. But inclines were slick and the 175 steps down to the middle falls required careful balancing on the narrow exposed wood on the edge of each step. The water shot forcefully out from under the ice at the falls and disappeared again, leaving a fine mist in the air. Devil’s Kettle proved to still be ice covered. If only I’d known, I would have spared myself the hairy climb and slipping down the treacherous slope that led to it. But it was so nice out, I was happy to prolong the hike.
Rich preferred seeking photo spots for the beautiful sunrises over the lake and starlit nights. He obviously does it well.
This weekend was a gift from our son Carl and his bride Chelsea. We loved their selection of Naniboujou Lodge, and the unending blue skies that accompanied our visit made it even more memorable. Thank you!