I was reminded by my cycling buddy, Bruce Clinton, that eight years ago we we making ready for our cross country trip. That was my last sabbatical and it was a cycling adventure that I will never forget. We started by dipping our rear wheels in the Pacific at Anacortes Washington and 33 days later we dipped our front wheels in the Atlantic at Scarbourgh Maine after taking the Northern Tier route. Our route took us through some of the most beautiful and breathtaking sceanery, going through Washington State where we experienced smoke and haze from wildfires, cycling up through the Rockies over the Continetal Divide into the Big Sky country of Montana, passing through the North Dakota Badlands then crossing the Big Muddy as we started to make our way home. All in all, it was a great time and one that I will cherish, but on this sabbatical I am taking a different approach. More than likely this will be my last sabbatical as I begin to look down the road to retirement and this is a good time for me to explore some options. One of my major goals will be writing. I spoke with Lori Ambacher, a Creative Writing teacher at Gordon-Conwell, who encouraged me to set a discipline to write each day and to set a word limit. “Don’t worry so much on getting it right the first time”, she told me, “just write, you can always edit it later.” In a week Jane and I will be heading down to New York City where I am going to take a one day intensive writing course on Memoir Writing. I am really looking forward to being in that class learning more about how I can make my writing more fluid and hopefully interesting. I told Lori that I sometimes feel that my writing is flat, one dimensional, where when I read a novel or a good short story, those authors are able to spark life in their characters, opening up new worlds and new visions. Like when I read Frederick Buechner, Bernard Cornwall, Barbara Brown Taylor, Margaret Atwood and Stephen King, to name just a few, those are writers who make the pages come alive, they draw you in to their world, creating page turning books that one cannot put down. I remember when I first read J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy back when I was struggling in school, that book took me away into Middle Earth, away from the bullies and others who made high school into a dark place, and into a world where I had the One Ring, and I could disappear to become invisible. Good books, good stories transport you, lift you up, guide and at times comfort, but mainly those stories feed the imagination which in turn feeds the deepest parts of our souls.
Maybe some of my more creative projects will get posted on this blog, I cannot be sure of that right now. I just don’t have the confidence at this point to expose myself on these pages. I also am a bit of a procrastinator, stuff just seems to rattle around in my head and I think that maybe I need to write that down but other things get in the way, my mind shifts to another event or thought and wham, that previous good idea is swamped in a morass of jumbled bits and pieces. Anyway, I will continue to write, taking pencil to paper, my typing skills kind of stink, and see where it will take me. I’m not out to write the next great American Novel, I’m just out to do my best and, as they say, let the chips fall where they may.