By Ann Minnett
I was driving down snow-covered Star Meadow Road Monday morning in a slight panic. I dug blindly in my bag for the list of Christmas gifts to buy and errands to complete in between yoga, a meeting at 11:30, dinner with a friend at 5:30 (we’re old), and finally another meeting at 6:30. Mustn’t forget to drop off my critique pages at Marie’s, I thought. Now where was that pen I stashed in the console…
I’m retired. We live near a resort town that currently looks like a tranquil Christmas card. How can I be this busy?
Star Meadow Road – Photo courtesy of Mike Coleman
A huge bird—a golden eagle—flew over my car, filling the windshield and making me flinch. His flapping wings appeared jointed in five places each and nearly spanned the narrow road. He flew low and slowly in front of my moving car, hunting along Star Meadow Road the way I’ve seen eagles follow rivers. We traveled at 30 mph, swooping downhill for a mile or more until he banked to the right, and I lost him in snow-laden pines. The busyness of my day fell away in the beat of his wings, towing me in the silence.
I attended a women’s retreat on the banks of beautiful Flathead Lake yesterday. About sixty of us discussed spirituality in all its loose forms and how we might demonstrate our personal beliefs in daily life. I was struck by the importance of writing in the process. We wrote letters to ourselves to be opened at next year’s retreat, and time to journal was built into the schedule.
As soon as I could print, I recorded my thoughts and feelings on paper.
I’ll reread all my old journals one day, and for that implausible reason I can’t bring myself to burn or toss them. All those intimate self-revelations are part of me. Truthfully, sometimes I don’t know what I think until I write it down.
One Saturday among women from all backgrounds reinforced my belief that my writing today started with journaling. My work represents far more than stories. It represents what I have to give back.
By Ann Minnett
An animal shelter in Berks County, Pennsylvania is helping young students improve their reading skills by reading to cats. Yes, cats!
The story appeared on http://thedodo.com and received a lot of attention on FaceBook. This program provides good reading practice for the children and wonderful company for the animals awaiting adoption. But so much more goes on when someone reads to another (human or animal).
The social/emotional connection affects both partners. We touch, exchange facial expressions, and generally communicate below the level of the words on the page. Most parents know the importance of reading to an child even before she can speak. The child learns language to the extent she hears language, but when parents cuddle a child to read, they are bonding and sharing so much more. Apparently those benefits extend to other living creatures.
By Ann Minnett
Would I like to have a fat contract with a large publishing house? Yes, I would. But I don’t.
I did give Serita’s Shelf Life one last chance at representation by contacting almost seventy agents. I limited contacts to legit agents accepting email submissions in my genre. Three or four rejections came back within hours. Most dribbled in over a few days. Some agents would never contact me as they made clear on agency websites.
About a month later, two agents wanted to read my entire manuscript! I was thrilled because no professional had ever asked to read more of my work. Both let me down gently, and one included a personal note of support.
Another week elapsed with no further responses. If I held onto that manuscript another week, I’d revise chapter numbers, change tense on Serita’s POV, or something equally compulsive, so I self-published Serita’s Shelf Life in late August. Then two more agents requested my manuscript. What?! After a walk in the woods I realized it didn’t matter. Self-publishing is my path, and an agent’s validation or rejection can’t change that.
Oh, I love maturing as a person and writer. BTW Serita’s Shel Life is available in print or as an ebook.
By Ann Minnett
What announces the coming of spring more vividly than bird migration?
Specific to NW Montana is the return of Canada Geese and a little farther to our west, Snow Geese. Some Canada Geese (aka Canadian) stay in our neighborhood to lays their eggs and raise their goslings until the whole family is able to fly north. I took this photo much later in the spring last year. (Eleven babies!)
Last week we visited an area 30 miles from Great Falls to view the migration of Snow Geese—our first time. The area’s shallow lakes annually host many thousands of Snow Geese stopping to rest and feast on nearby barley fields. We met a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks ranger who filmed the birds’ undulating lift-offs with a camera lens the length of my arm. This lucky man’s job is to travel around Montana and capture its amazing wildlife on video and in still photos. He said we were in the right place on the right day but the wrong year because the lakes had refrozen a few days earlier. Not as many geese stopped this year due to the ice. Still, the sights and especially the sounds were impressive. Oh, to have had the ranger’s lens! My photo below screams for more power. We’ll see about that when we try again next year.