I have a challenge for the writers in the group.
Recently, I was asked by Flathead Living to submit an excerpt from my book, Go Find which will be released October 2, 2018 by Blackstone Publishing.
Flathead Living didn’t want a synopsis but 200-words or less excerpt that captures the flavor, my voice, my writing style, and essences of my memoir.
This is a great challenge to all of us as writers. What or where is that paragraph in your writing project that sums up what you are trying to communicate? If you had to send the NYT’s 100 words that reveals your writing chops and story line, what would you say? Is it in your current document? I challenge all of you to look for it and write it down and send it to me. I’d love to read it.
For me, my a-ha moment happened when I was three years into writing my memoir. I hadn’t quite linked up the big story line and still felt a little lost in the process. I was on the phone with Poodle Lady, my mentor, BFF, and character in my book. She was training a white standard Poodle in Aspen, Colorado when I met her. I blurted out to her, “How come it’s easier for me to jump out of the side of a helicopter to look for a dead guy with my avalanche dog than it is to talk to my husband about our relationship?”
Boom! I finally said those words I hadn’t been able to get out for years. Shame, guilt, and relief flooded through me in that moment.
Finding courage to express my feelings on the page was and still is a process. It took ten years to sort out what I was trying to convey to my readers and to myself. I am blessed to have a supportive writing community in the Flathead Valley. I hope you enjoy this 248-word excerpt.
In the next newsletter, I will tell you what my literary agent Bob thought my memoir was about after he read it twice.
Go Find: My Journey to Find the Lost—And Myself by Susan Purvis
Excerpt from Chapter 1—Last Ditch Effort
13, 000’ Whitehouse Mountain
Ouray, Colorado. 2005
Yanking off my helmet with one hand, I pin Tasha, my black Lab into my lap with the other. The deafening roar of the engine makes giving verbal commands to Tasha impossible. I rely on our years of communicating through eye contact and hand signals to show her when to exit.
“You’re going to have to jump!” the pilot shouts at me.
“Jump?” I worry about Tasha’s distended abdomen. She could rupture her gut if she lands on her belly. Then I remember the raspy plea of Ed Jones, the uncle of the missing man. “I’m not leaving Colorado until all my family members are accounted for. I’ve been scouring these mountains for over thirty days.” Ed’s desperation had convinced me I had to come. We’re his last hope. Ten years ago, when I blindly launched into this volunteer search-dog career, I promised I would never leave anyone behind. I’ve kept my word … so far.
The helicopter shudders. I clutch the handle and, for an instant, I question what I am doing here. My husband’s pissed. He told me not to come, tried to order me not to get on the chopper. Yet here I am, in the path of an avalanche, risking Tasha’s life and my own. Somehow, I find it easier to jump out of a helicopter than to talk to my husband about our relationship. Is my ego driving this? My promise to the family? Or is it that I have something to prove?
Susan Purvis, Author, Educator, Explorer
www.susanpurvis.com to read more about Go Find. Over 30 book reviews are posted including New York Times bestselling author, Sebastian Junger.
Go Find will be released October 2, 2018
Join authors Angie Abdou, Sue Purvis, Jan Redford, Kate Harris, and Bernadette McDonald as they discuss challenges when writing about their personal experiences with wild places and how women’s narrative can connect people to the landscape. This session will be moderated by Marni Jackson, faculty for the Banff Mountain and Wilderness Writing program.