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Hi. I’m Maery, a writer in the Twin Cities. Although I no longer have the body for extreme adventures, I love to bicycle, go horse trail riding and take hikes with my dogs.  

One thing you should know before you join me on my quest -- I don’t have a map. And I’ve been known to wander off course and stop to listen to birds and look for agates. I also have a few issues with fear and anxiety. In other words, I’m not a good role model or adventure guide. But in this time of uncertainty and polarization, I'm not sure anyone has a reliable map. We'll just figure it out as we go.

Winter view of the Mississippi River

Winter view of Mississippi River

I used to write in my journal almost every day. It’s a good method for me to clean out the head clutter that bangs around in my brain. But I’ve been so busy, there’s been no time for that sort of thing. Instead I tried not to think at all — just do, do, do.

That hasn’t been all bad as there were things that needed to be done — quickly! But I found that a weekly mind dump is better than no mind dump at all, if for no other reason than getting out the frustration and whining that I TRY not to unload on people. I also find it useful to have some kind of landmark of events in my life along with the thoughts and feelings that accompanied that moment in time.

dog in the woods

When I feel I’m stuck in bad patterns or I’m not getting anywhere with the things I’m working on, it’s reassuring to go back to see that things are actually going okay. What seemed so awful was survived. Perhaps it even turned out that the awfulness was necessary to get to the good.

Yesterday, I went back to read in my journal my rant about all the recent “No’s” in my life. I wrote, “Certainly a ‘Yes’ has to appear.” At the time I wrote that, I was thinking about my submission to get into the manuscript workshop. I sent in that submission last Friday and will know whether I made it on January 15.

But there were other “Yeses” last week. One was to attend a local writers gathering called Book Binders’ Salon. There is a list of regular attendees and the only way to get in is if one of them can’t make it that month. I’ve been lucky enough to go there for the past three months. The group isn’t a writer’s group (something I’m still looking for), where people bring their own writing and  critique each other’s work. Instead, each month, this group of writers discuss writing itself and all that goes along with that endeavor.

At January’s Book Binders’ Salon, Beth Wright from Trio Bookworks spoke with us about the world of publishing. We discussed questions like “What value does publishing bring or you hope it will bring to your work?” and “What does it take away or do you fear it will take away?”

dog in the woods

A common fear with memoir writers is how much they are revealing and that it takes away their privacy. And because other people are included in the story (often family), there could be fallback. There were concerns about how readers might misinterpret what they wrote — that in a sense, you lose control of your story once it is published.

A common theme for gains of publishing was being validated. You are published, therefore you truly are a writer. You have something to include in your “About Me” statement. You gain some credibility. There is also hope for redemption around the time and money you have invested in your writing, not just in your own mind, but in the mind’s of people who may have criticized you or resented the time you spent locked away writing. It took us awhile to get to the real gain we dream of — connecting with readers, to have that response of “Me too!” or “What you wrote helped me.”

As we talked, I realized one more thing that publishing would mean for me — that this story is done. No more tweaking. No more restructuring. No more changing my mind on what the story is really about, which ends up changing what I include. I have at least two other writing projects sitting on the back burner that I want to get to. I am anxious to move on. But I know that won’t happen for awhile. What makes me happy, though, is I can see the work coming together. I believe it will be finished.

ducks on Rum River

And the other “Yes” from last week? I got the promotion I asked for. This has also meant that I need to do some traveling for work. So with the plus comes the minus. I’ll soon find out if I can keep up my writing routine on the road.

p.s. Thank you so much for your comments last week! The sharing of your thoughts and your support mean so very much to me!


dog sticking its tongue out

ducks on Rum River

I’ve been obsessively writing for a few weeks. I’ve entered a secret world of words that I can get lost in for hours. Picture some kind of matrix scene where probes are attached to my head and I’m twitching and people are shaking me and yelling, “Maery! Maery! Wake up!”

Okay. It’s not quite that dramatic. Still,  I do have to force myself to get up and go ride my horse or walk the dogs or (gasp!) clean the house. Do something to break the spell for awhile.

dog sitting by the river

I’ve been visiting people through my writing that I haven’t seen for quite awhile – some because they live faraway, some because they’ve died, and some because our lives have taken different roads and we’ve lost touch.

It’s been bittersweet, this trip down memory lane. It’s been fun reminiscing about family gatherings and old traditions, things I might have forgotten if I hadn’t written them down in such detail. Not all the memories are pleasant, but I learn valuables things from them. With the distance of time comes some wisdom and peace.

dog walk in the snow

But thank goodness for dogs that visit my desk, place their noses on my lap, and if that doesn’t work, bark at me or squeak a toy that they carry in their mouths. They draw me outside to sunshine, powder snow, and a nippy breeze.

It’s a return to the living and the now and the simplicity of a moment in time when all that’s asked of me is to move my feet, one step in front of the other.

That’s all it takes to make my dogs happy. And maybe that’s all it takes for me too.

dog sticking its tongue out

dog walk in the snow

dog walk in the snow

I’m writing this on Sunday afternoon. I’ve had nine days off from work and am trying not to ruin the one remaining day by thinking about going back to work tomorrow.

Late this morning, Steve and I did our run to church, Costco (creating a lunch out of free samples) and the Avant Garden coffee shop for coffee and a scone. I’m now finishing up the remaining coffee at my desk before Steve and I head out for a winter walk with the dogs.

dog walk in the snow

It’s getting to that end of year time when we start to think about another year gone by. We wonder what next year will be like and what we want it to be like. What do we need to do or change to make next year better than this year?

dog walk in the woods

But I don’t know, 2015 was pretty good.

Steve and I had fun with our first overnight bike touring experience last June. I want to do it again in 2016, only maybe a two night stay, or I could see doing an even longer trip if we could find dog care and figure out a route that we and our non-touring bikes could handle.

bike tour


The train trip to Oregon we took in late September-early October and the time we spent exploring that state was amazing! It may be awhile before we can take another trip that grand.

Mt Hood

Another year!

2015 was an expensive year for me with surgery on Luke’s eye and all the followup medications and doctor appointments. Luke’s doing very well but it will take me awhile to recuperate financially from that experience.

But still, it’s been interesting the changes that have come about because of the demands of Luke’s care.

I was getting really sour on the whole horse thing. I missed the friends I used to ride with and the trail rides we went on. Riding had turned to drudgery and loneliness rather than enjoyment, so I was only going out to the barn two to four times a month. I was thinking about trying to find another home for Luke and focus my life on other things.

But suddenly, I had to go to the barn almost every day to check on Luke. Once Luke was feeling okay, I wasn’t going to the barn every day, but I was still going there three to four times a week to keep tabs on him and to ride.

horseback riding

Somehow, the time I spent with Luke reminded me what horses (especially this horse) have meant to me. No one at the new barn we’re at has become my “riding buddy,” but I rarely ride alone. The enjoyment of being around horses and horse people is gradually coming back for me. And once again, I plan to conquer my fear of backing up my trailer so I can go trail riding (even if it’s by myself) during trail riding season. I know I’ve had this plan before, but something inside me says that next year, I’ll follow through.

Because I’ve had a reminder that things happen. Live now.

Don’t put those dog walks and coffee with friends off until tomorrow or next month — when you’ll have time. You’ll NEVER feel like you have enough time. But, really, you do.

dog walk in snow

You make time for what’s important.

I’ve been busy writing a couple hours a day, which is why I took a week off from work, to build up a good head of steam. I resisted the urge to put in more daily writing time, as I just wanted to get a rhythm going and avoid stressing and burning out.

I’m close to having a full rough draft put together. About the only thing I’m not sure of is how to end the story. But for now, I just need to get it together good enough to apply for a manuscript workshop that is only accepting four people. My application has to be in by January 11th. I should have a decent outline and goals put together by then plus a couple chapter samples to mail in.

If I don’t get into the workshop, that’s okay as I’ll have that draft pulled together and I’ll look for another way of working on the revision.  But being a part of that workshop for five months would be super helpful.

I think this is the first year that I’ve ended with a feeling that I did a lot of what I wanted to do in the past year. I don’t think that’s because I was more productive this year. In fact, I think it’s because I was less productive and took more time for having fun.

dog walk in the snow

It finally snowed here!

dog walk in the snow

fat biking

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