I didn’t set out to write a book. I write for fun. River House, my memoir, came on cold winter days between life and my journal. To write a non-fiction piece as a young woman took a lot of living and reflection.
My journals consist of thoughts, feelings, happenings, etc. . . . I put words to my day and sometimes I find I need to remind myself what I did just hours before. I can’t imagine remembering a day years later. To write brings me back to the present with perfect words for the moment, carefully placed.
In graduate school I was using my journals to write stories. I longed for the river so I started there. It was a challenge to make some kind of point with my life through story, to have enough reflective prose to give the story purpose. It’s one thing to live life on chances and opportunities. It’s another thing all together to ask yourself “why?”. It was probably the most painful part of my process.
I had just finished the log construction of my house and found it natural to write about that. I enjoyed the challenge of explaining the process. But in these stories, my dad became a central character. I struggled with him in real life and I struggled to depict his character. It was when he took a major turn that changed our lives, that the book came to be. I suddenly had a tension that could drive a story into a book. At this point my journals went directly into the book.
This story was not rushed, probably because I write for fun, not for a living. Farming and river running force me to take a break and leave books for the coldest winter months when I’m not chasing Dad to Mexico or wandering off to Thailand. And in this cycle I leave plenty of time for living.