As this post goes live, I am traveling. It’s Mother’s Day weekend, and I’m visiting my parents in Montana. If the weather cooperates, I’ll be taking them on a spring-time drive through the heart of central Montana, stopping at sites along the Missouri River, having lunch in a quaint Montana town, and celebrating the special woman who is my mother. I’m looking forward to spending several days with my parents and to reminding my mom how important she is to me. Without her, I may not have become a writer.
As the author of several books, five Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, and numerous magazine and newspaper articles, my writing journey began EONS ago. I grew up an only child in Iowa, living on a small acreage outside of town, with a mother who didn’t drive a car and a father who worked nights at a factory. PICTURE THIS: RECLUSE, NO SOCIAL LIFE. But, we had farm animals, I had pets, I had TV, and I had an active imagination. PICTURE THIS: WRITING BEGINS AT YOUNG AGE. My writing began with crafting scripts for TV shows like “Bonanza” and “Starsky and Hutch.”
Or, if you prefer the Starsky/Hutch theme:
(Never sent a script in until I was about 30 — by then other shows were on, and though I thought I had a great idea to share with producers, the script was mailed back to me.)
Then, I dabbled in poetry (our little property with nature all around was my inspiration). Then, I moved into short stories. Throughout the course of my writing infancy, with no formal training except junior high and high school English, my mother encouraged me. When I took journalism classes in college and wrote for the school paper as well as for the literary magazine, her smiles and compliments kept me focused and moving forward. After college, I submitted work to local magazines, became the editor of the West Yellowstone News, and continued dabbling in poetry and short stories. Again, Mom’s encouragement was not short in coming, and because of her support, my determination grew to where now, at more than 50 years of age, I am a published author as well as short story and magazine freelancer and newspaper features and column writer. Sharing my appreciation for mom through an in-person visit and going for a special drive and a special lunch is the least I can do for the woman who has been there for me since Day One and encouraged me to pursue the desire of becoming a writer. My mother truly is one of my greatest treasures and best blessings.
A few days after I return from that Montana trip, I hit the road with fellow Casperite and Writing Wrangler Neva Bodin; we’re going to the Colorado Christian Writers Conference together. She and I have both attended this conference in years past but it’s been a few years for each of us. I’m looking forward to sharing time and experience with this lovely and talented lady, and I’m also looking forward to all I will learn during conference and then apply those lessons and knowledge to my writing life.
I enjoy traveling. I also enjoy conferences. Alas, the CCWC is likely the only writing conference I’ll attend this year. Wyoming Writers, Inc., has its annual conference in early June, but the non-profit for which I work part-time has a major fundraiser that same weekend, so I’m unable to attend that conference. Another conference I’ve gone to in years past, Get Published! which takes place in Bozeman, Montana, is that very same weekend as well (this is a time I could really benefit from being cloned, in order to take in each event!).
One learns so much at a writer’s conference: craft, marketing, indie publishing, new avenues and new genres to explore. And, we get to meet great people with whom we share a strong interest: other writers, editors, literary agents, speakers, publicity agents. And we all have something in common: the love of words. That commonality, that link, forges friendships and many of those fellow writers/friends become encouragers. We could very easily be competitors, but I find a majority of writers like to build one another up, and that’s a wonderful blessing!
My travels aren’t done after conference. My husband and I have tickets to see Celtic Woman at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado in mid-June, and I’ll be returning to that venue later in the summer to see Christian performers Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and others, and to also hear inspirational author and speaker Max Lucado. I’ve never been to Red Rocks although I live only five hours away, and this summer I get to go twice! I AM EXCITED to experience both events!
My husband and I also hope to visit his side of the family in the Carolinas sometime this summer (plans are still being formed), as well as take a trip to one of the most beautiful places in the world: Yellowstone National Park. Although I’ve lived away from that unique environment for nearly 20 years, it has never left me – I love visiting the Yellowstone area and I look forward to experiencing the vastness of the park, the beauty of the meadows, and the magnificence of the mountains again this year.
Then, of course, there are the jaunts to our cabin with weekend stays and weekday dinners. Our mountain hideaway is only 20 minutes from our house, so my husband and I can go at a moment’s notice and relax for several hours (or, in my case, write!) before returning home. In fact, we hope to host a belated birthday gathering for “the man” who turned the big 6-0 in April!
What conferences and/or travel to you anticipate with excitement this summer?
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL YOU MOMS AND
HAPPY WRITING AND CONFERENCING TO MY FELLOW WRITERS!
Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and nature. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from animals and the outdoors. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.