Thursday, October 23, 2008

Devils Tower National Monument Writer's Residency

Where do I even start? This was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had. I think it really hit me the second to last day. I'd taken a walk on the Joyner Ridge Trail, a beautiful hiking trail not far from the Tower. I walked about halfway and ended up sitting with my back against a Ponderosa Pine, the warm October sun in my face, big blue sky overhead, the Tower off to my left, pen and journal in sound except a gentle breeze whispering through the pines, just one example of the many ways God chose to bless my time there.

The trip started with three days of research in the Wibaux, Montana/Beach, North Dakota area, the main setting for my current project, Seeds of Salton. This book needs to have a gritty, western, rugged feel to it and seeing the iron hard land of that region in person really helped me work some of that into the manuscript, giving it much more authenticity.

From there I drove down through North and South Dakota, right at the tail end of an early snowstorm! Thankfully the roads were dry, and I found the snow covered buttes and breaks absolutely stunning the entire drive! When I turned west from Belle Fourche into Wyoming it was dusk, the clouds had started to dissipate, a little sun breaking through. I came around a curve and there it was...the tower, protruding above the hillside, the gray clouds hovering, giving the aura of something special.

And special it is. It lies at the edge of the beautiful Black Hills, near the winding Belle Fourche River, the red capped buttes here and there, the Ponderosa Pines. Beautiful. I feel drawn to this area, like I belong. In reality though, I was there to write. And write I did...morning 'til night, with only one stop for a walk each day. By the end of the week I was amazed how much I'd actually accomplished! As I packed to leave, I didn't feel sad the residency was ending. Instead, I felt blessed that my journey of writing Seeds of Salton continues forward.

I want to thank the Bearlodge Writers Group in Sundance, Wyoming who co-sponsor the residency. What a delightful group of dedicated writers and warm, friendly people! I also want to thank the staff at the Devils Tower National Monument for opening the park to writers in this fashion. This was such an absolute treasure of time!


No comments: