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Lost in the Wilderness

January 14, 2016

“The old moon, like a worn and ancient coin, is still hanging in the west when I awake.”  

Edward Abbey, “Desert Solitaire, a Season in the Wilderness,” 1968.

Advice by the master Stephen King,”If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

So that is what I have been doing for the last week, re-reading an old favorite by a master of description.

Here is the next sentence by Abbey:

“All night long the wind has been blowing, haunting my dreams with intimations of disaster, and in the east above the rim and mountains are salmon-colored clouds whipped into long, sleek, fishlike shapes by the wind.”

Abbey, who passed on to the next life in 1989, having not quite achieved my age of 63, left behind masterpieces of story telling and description.  I wonder if this particular book could get published today; I think it might not, it is not a cohesive story, and may be difficult for novices to stick with, yet it consistently shows up in the Top 100 lists of book about the natural world.

Back to work.  I am 22,000 words into a 72,000 word story, Enchanted Rock White.  How do I know it will be 72,000 words?  Because that’s where I always seem to run out of story, and my readers out of patience.  The photo from Arches National Park, the setting of Desert Solitaire, is by my friend Mark Bilak, who mailed me a box of Abbey’s books many years ago when I was lost in the wilderness.

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From → Writing Fiction

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