Living a cliche

I can’t find my toothbrush. It’s a nice little battery-operated job, perfect for traveling, and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. There was the two-week jaunt to the Midwest, for which I’m finding a strange rekindling of affection as I age. And several trips to the cabin, newly acquired last month. Today I’m packing again, heading out to the cabin.

The cabin is a fabulous Alaskan cliche. Tucked down a stretch of gravel road, hemmed in by four gates to discourage intruders, it opens up to big wide views of the mountains and yes – I hate to admit it – a terrific glacier. The river cascades along the property’s northern edge. For entertainment, we sit on the porch – yes, in rocking chairs -and wave at river rafters bobbing past. Did I mention the little creek that cuts across one corner, where dolly varden hover in the shadows?

The cabin would suit me just fine as my only home, but pesky distractions like work make us cabin commuters. Packing up for the week, I pretend I’m part of an ages-old Alaskan nomadic tradition. Always Getting Ready is the Yup’ik way of saying it (also title of James Barker’s remarkable collection of photographs). But who are we kidding? I’m packing three laptops so I can write all day without turning on the generator (solar power’s on the list of upgrades, when we get around to it). This morning I decided to stop at Borders on the way out of town, so I can pick up a PM Yoga DVD to replace my AM Yoga, since we only run the power at night. Then there’s the cell phone signal, stronger than what I get in Anchorage, by which I stay connected even to the internet, so I don’t lose a moment with you lovely readers. There’s no sense pretending I’m roughing it.

Like a lot of writers, I began by squeezing in little sessions whenever and wherever I could. I guess a lot of us depend on favorite places to write as part of our routines, but I prefer to stay flexible. Once I researched Patrick Roi, the famous hockey goalie who associated dozens of little rituals with his success. It was pretty crazy when you looked at it objectively, and something I think writers could easily fall into, because like hockey goalies, we can work and work at our craft and in the end some of it ends up being just plain luck that’s beyond our control.

That being said, the cabin is a wonderful place to write, my own retreat where I can read a whole book at one sitting, take long walks along the river with the dog, and devote hours and hours to one of my WIPs. It’s a little slice of heaven, since we’re talking cliches.

Now if I could only find that toothbrush.

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