Last year at this time, I was deep into writing my forthcoming book, Step into Nature. When offered the contract, I was given 6 months to write the book. For me, that meant writing 7 days a week, 3 – 8 hours a day. During that time I took 4 days off. Those 6 months were the happiest 6 months of my entire 57 years!
Each of those mornings I got up before daylight, made a cup of the strongest coffee, and lit a match in the fireplace in our living room, where I would spend a few hours writing, researching, writing. Often I was accompanied by my two best-beloved cats Ace and Stella. Come late morning, I’d go out for a long forest walk.
The fire licked the wood; the flames flared; the heat warmed me. From wherever it lives, inspiration came; ideas flowed. Possibility was everywhere in this very room where I sit now. For all those who say writing is hard and ideas few and inspiration is nearly uncoverable, I offer my experience as an antidote, and suggest that art—poetry and ideas, paintings, dances, songs and stories—is everywhere and all the time.
For that joy I’m grateful to my literary agent Charlotte Raymond, my editor Anna Noak, and my husband Michael Stark. If it hadn’t been for them, I’d have neither written the book, deepened my love of nature, nor dwelled in the enormous joy that I was gifted with. My wish with the book is to bring readers out onto the land, to get to intimately know the natural places close to them, to honor the earth, and to develop a sustaining imaginative practice of whatever form of artistic expression they’re called to.
Yesterday, another primary, hardworking person on this journey, managing editor Lindsay Brown sent me the final layout of the praise pages for my book—3 pages of words from smart, accomplished, and kind people. Grateful, too, am I for Emmalisa Sparrow and her fine work, and everyone else at Beyond Words, the publicity and marketing folks, the designers, those behind the scenes, and the dedicated publishers. Each person who has done even a small thing for this book has my enormous gratitude. I count my students among those who made the book possible. And let me know neglect to mention my artist father and my close friends.
I pay homage to the fire, for the spark of possibility it gave me, for the heat that warmed even the chilliest mornings. That spark of fire is a shared thing; we all have it within us. It’s how we light each other’s lives in even the darkest times of year.