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The year of 2020 has proven to be the virtual earthquake in our lives – no physical rumbling of the earth (unless, of course, you live where there literally are earthquakes), no fissures in the ground to swallow up a car, no leaves shaking off of trees or vases inching from shelves.  But, just the same, our lives were tipped sideways and what we considered normal in our lives soon became a “new normal” we’re still trying to sort through.

We’ve all had to adjust our thinking; some have suffered economically more than others and there’s hope all can recover, some have had to put on hold travel plans, and some have weathered these times with a calm attitude while others are unable, and many have found what’s important in life when they aren’t trying to accomplish ten things at once.

If I seem like I’m making light of this last year, it is part of my own mechanism of survival.  This hasn’t been an easy year.  Who’d have ever thought in all these years on earth (69 for me) we would see such divisiveness and confusion.  Not me, for one.

I’ve always loved walking.  My husband and I truly discovered hiking in the mountains, through valleys, and in deserts about ten years ago.  The joy of silence in the woods, sometimes the crunch of our boots on dirt and gravel, the worries of modern life reduced to safety on the trail, our conversations that diverge on subjects we’ve never traversed, and our own thoughts streamlining to singularity press us to get on the trails as often as possible.

And that is where I sometimes do my best writing.  Not literally writing down the words but discovering plot points as my mind wanders, fleshing out characters to make them memorable, and at least with the latest manuscript, realizing how the ending worked best.  Many a time we’ve ended a hike with me pulling out my notebook to jot down thoughts before they disappear like a dream.

To introduce myself, I’ve written and been successful through traditional publishing of two historical fiction novels–“Juniper and Anise” and “Tilly Loves Johnny”–by Whiskey Creek Press and The Wild Rose Press, respectively.  I’ve self-published two local history books–“The Fowlerville Chronicles” and “Through the Eyes of a Country Editor.”  I’ve been commissioned to write two more local history books–“Mr. Smith’s Forgotten Community” and “A Soldier, His Brother, and a House.”  Each book has been a learning experience, an accomplishment I never thought possible, and a thrill.  My life has been a combination of writing (my current passion), modeling while my daughters were in high school, published knitter and crocheter of nearly 350 designs in national magazines and books (1985-2000 under the name of Marion Kelley), and recently retiring and selling a commercial embroidery company I’ve run these last 20 years.

Everything I’ve done all these years has brought me to this point in my life of working on a manuscript I am most happy with–that’s because everyday we are learning and improving whatever craft we are involved in.  I took a great many hikes while perfecting this current script benefitting in numerous ways.  I’ve gotten a bit healthier (and firmer), thrilled at plot points I hadn’t considered while in front of my laptop, gazed out over wondrous landscapes, and marveled how enforced quarantine/isolation served me to let go of distractions.

The media touts we’ve rediscovered the outdoors.  A truly good thing coming out of 2020.  Even though I’ve been writing while hiking for many years, this past year has put an exclamation point at the end of that thought–writing while hiking!  What a great concept and highly recommended.

P.S. The picture with this post was taken in Junction, Texas, where a huge roadrunner statue reminded everyone to be a part of the solution not the problem.  Taken on our way through town on the way to Big Bend National Park, south Texas, looking forward to hiking.