Mei Mei Evans: My Sanity-Saving Seward Sojourn

say, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” so that’s exactly what I
did.  Go, that is.  I went
to Seward to flee the insanity-inducing business of home renovation, the
intensity of my own and my daughter’s back-to-school transitions after our
sublime summer idyll (read “idle” –or at least enough so that ramping back up
for the academic year was like the proverbial zero-to-sixty).  And I went away, as it turns out, to write.

that it wasn’t really the home remodel or the back to school or any other
obvious goad that was making me gnash my teeth by late August.  It was the absence of a writing project.  For as much as I sometimes resented my novel,
Oil and Water, over all the years
(decades actually.  Plural.) I spent
writing it, I have realized belatedly how fortunate I was to have a project
that never lost fascination for me, not once, during all that time.  I feel now that my drive to finish it may
have been a little misguided.  That is, I
failed to appreciate how much I would miss the activity, how bereft I would
feel, once the book was published. 
Whereas I had promised myself (and my kid) that I was going to take a
break from writing, I now discover how unfulfilled my life feels without it. 

So I
trundled down to Seward for a getaway, thinking that long beach walks at Lowell
Point would scour me clean of the hinkiness that had become my mood with the
onset of fall.  And it was so, but it was
when I picked up the phone book in my little rental cabin that I finally discovered
that my real issue was that my imagination was just not sufficiently engaged in
my post-book writing life.

How many
of you know that the 2011-2012 Seward phone directory, smaller and lighter than
my paperbound novel, is actually entitled “Nome/Seward/Unalaska?”  Its three sections include listings for some seventy Alaska communities, from Cold
Bay (“Frosty Fuels, LLC”) to Fort Yukon (“Arctic Circle Baptist Church”) to
Sand Point (“Aleutian China Restaurant”) to Brevig Mission (“Mary’s Igloo
Traditional Council”) to Nome (“Board of Trade Saloon”) to Shishmaref
(“Shishmaref Dog Mushers Association”) to Deering (“Deering Road Project”) to
Chignik Lagoon (“Eagle’s Roost B&B”) to Egegik (“Fun N Wash”) to Koyukuk
(“Last Chance Store”) to Nondalton (“Valhalla Lodge”) as well as Seward (“A Flyin’ Skein”) and Moose Pass (“Crown Point
Kennel”).  It is a treasure trove of information
and imagination-ticklers, and I couldn’t get enough of thumbing through its

I now have
a confession to make, dear reader: I stole the phone book.  It has become my prized possession, for
herein, I sense, lies enough writing fodder to keep me happily imagining for a
long time.  With luck and perseverance, I
hope to come up with the focus for another book.  For now I know that my real happiness lies
not so much in finishing a major writing project as it does in being immersed
in one.

Mei Mei Evans feels privileged to
have been invited to guest blog for 49 Writers. 
She admires and thanks everyone who, day after day, keeps on moving
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