This post by Gayle M. Irwin
This new year is also a leap year, which, according to Wikipedia, adds an extra day “to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year.” One extra day this year – an extra day to write!
This weekend I’m taking myself on a writing retreat. My husband and I have friends who live on a ranch about 70 miles northeast of our town of Casper. The ranch plays host to a variety of wildlife, including turkeys, white-tailed deer, red-tailed hawks, great horned owls, and many species of songbirds… as well as cattle, sheep, and llamas. The ranch also hosts a guest house. Greg and I have stayed there a few times, and I’ve stayed at the modular house, complete with fireplace and jacuzzi tub, on several occasions alone. It’s here that I completed “Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog.” Sage was with me. Little did I know that February weekend in 2012 that one month later my beloved blind dog would be diagnosed with an aggressive cancer and, within a week of that diagnosis, pass on.
So, here we are, about four years later, and I’ll be “retreating” to the ranch once again to write amid the quiet. The Powder River flows nearby. Bluffs and hillsides add to nature’s song. The guest house has no wi-fi, and cell phone service is a short drive down the country lane. My friends’ main house is a few stones’ throws from the guest house, so if some emergency does arise, I can get help (however, I’ll need to be able to walk or drive!). One of the lessons Sage taught me was to have a deeper faith, so just as I have faith all will be well at our cabin, which also doesn’t have cell or wi-fi service, I have faith all will be well at my friends’ ranch guesthouse while I’m there. Taking “a leap of faith,” so to speak.
Writing is also a leap of faith. When we create characters, compose stories, and call upon the muse, we trust we will develop something we’ll enjoy writing and that people will enjoy reading. We trust we’ll connect, market, and sell. Writing is art, but it’s also a business, especially if we want to earn a living doing it, whether full-or part-time.
I’m blessed to be very busy part-time writer. I not only write books, but also magazine articles, short stories, and newspaper pieces. During the past few years, my platform has expanded, and in this year another opportunity has come my way: a third magazine through the company that creates WREN (Wyoming Rural Electric News) and Crossroads (an annual publication of the Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce). This new publication, called Advancement, is not something I’ve heard of, but the editors have asked me to take part in the project because they know me – they know my style, they know I’m thorough in my interviews, and they know I meet deadlines. I’ve written for WREN for three years and for Crossroads for two; the editors know I’m reliable and so when this new publication opportunity arose, they contacted me – and I said “YES!” We’ll see what I’m in for, but I am excited and I am grateful.
Another exciting happening for me is that the Casper Journal has serialized another of my children’s stories; it began running the week of Christmas (Merry Christmas to me … and Casper’s young readers!). “Sage Finds Friends” reminds youngsters of the value of friendship; the book is available on Amazon and I should have my first copies later this month. I’m excited! This book took nearly three years from conception to birth (it sat on my computer’s hard drive for quite a few seasons). Now that I’m “on a roll” book-wise, I’m planning to complete other WIPs that are sitting on my hard drive as well. I’m motivated, and I look forward to what this three-day, self-imposed writing retreat will produce … and to what this new year, this leap year, unfolds for me creatively.
Paralleling the writing is speaking. This month I have five school visits plus another scheduled for February 1. I plan to line up library visits and booksignings for the spring in conjunction with Children’s Book Week, which coincides with Be Kind to Animals Week (both in early May). I hope to have my children’s dog rescue book (one of my WIPs) published by then to share with audiences (young and older) – an objective I’ve set for this year. That’s a project I’ll focus on while at the ranch.
My desire is to be a fulltime writer and speaker. My goal is to be at that point by the time 2017 rolls around. We will see if that comes to pass as that is also “a leap of faith.”
How about you? What do you hope to “leap into” this year? What leaps of faith are you contemplating? My best to you all always!
Gayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker who lives in Wyoming. She is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults and has also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. Additionally, she’s contributed short stories to five Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes regularly for magazines and newspapers. Gayle has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. She speaks in schools and for civic and Christian women’s groups, weaving topics together with lessons people can learn from pets. She is currently working on three books, including a pet rescue story for children. Visit her website at www.gaylemirwin.com.