Bus People

So grateful for the gifts that the writing life has bestowed this year. Couldn’t do it if it weren’t for my family, husband Marc, daughters Katy and Becca, new son-in-law, Matty, and toddler-of-my-life, Zoey. And Ruby-Sue, our cute-attack golden puppy. If not for them, writing just wouldn’t happen.

Grateful for our fun Anchorage girl-homies group, we laugh so hard when we have lunch we forget about food. Grateful for my writing friends in Alaska and Outside. They’ve taught me so much. I’m awed by the generosity of the writing community everywhere. Writers are so giving and generous with advice for us neophytes. The Yodas—the well-knowns, the famous, the writers sharing my journey…all freely share their wisdom. Now I know why those Academy Award people go on so long with their thank-yous. It really does take a village to be a writer. No one can do it alone (unless you’re Ted Kaczynski).

Grateful for the friends and acquaintances from so many places—Alaska, California, Arizona, Hawaii, Canada, South Africa, Singapore, Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, the Philippines, Ohio, Atlanta, North Carolina…if I didn’t travel or go to writer’s conferences, I never would have met them. Some peeps you gravitate towards, so you make future plans or stay connected on social media. Others you were happy to meet.

Got to do a stand-up comedy joke & Palin imitation onstage at the Erma Bombeck Humor Writers Workshop. Despite decades of comedy theatre acting I was terrified. But I made the East Coasters laugh. That’s all I wanted. If I can’t make people laugh and forget their problems for a few seconds, then what’s the point?Butte and Missoula

The Days of Devotion Trafalgar tour of Spain, France, and Portugal was a spectacular, enriching experience. Helped me to better understand Christianity. It was a humbling experience to stand inside a building constructed in 900 A.D., rising thousands of feet to the sky and what it took to be architected and constructed in the first place. Sharing the experience with new friends and our amazing, knowledgeable tour director, Rachel, who taught us so much…was a humbling experience. Traveling really does show you a different lens. Especially when you return to America. Rick Steves is right. It’s not a cliché.

At the beginning of each year, our writing group has us set goals. Last January I set the goal of publishing my first novel by the end of the year. I didn’t reach that goal. But I came within striking distance and that’s good enough. At our Anchorage writer’s conference this fall, the editorial director of Kensington Publishing in NYC awarded Alaskan Spark as a promising manuscript at the conference. Alaskan Spark pic of draft

I sat down with him expecting the usual critique of how to improve my chapter. Instead he handed me a business card and requested the full manuscript. After peeling myself from the floor, I looked at him as if he’d just sprouted dragon wings. There’s milestones in our lives where moments are indelibly imprinted. That was one. The impish Groucho Marx expression on his face, me telling him how intimidated I felt as an Alaskan meeting with an editor from Manhattan and how he laughed and cracked jokes…being thunderstruck that an editor actually wanted to read a bunch of made-up stuff I wrote was so surreal. Everything decelerated to slow-mo, at sloth speed.

Even if they choose not to publish it, I’m grateful to have come this far!At least I’m riding the roller-coaster which is better than not climbing onto the ride at all.

Which brings me to dreams. We all have them. Mine began at 130 South Excelsior Street in Butte, Montana, in sixth grade. I remember the exact moment. Standing in the middle of my bedroom, I’d just closed the last book of the Beverly Gray book series about a college girl studying to be a writer. A bolt from the blue pierced my brain. Boom! Dream indelibly imprinted.

A lifetime passed. El Camino de Santiago photot

Creative writing wasn’t in the cards until decades later. But being an academic, legal, and technical writer was. Everything in our lives prepares us for the next thing. The Forest Service hired me to write a recreation guide, then BLM hired me to write legal land decisions and reports on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, then BOEM had me write EIS’s for offshore oil and gas leasing, on and on. The feds sent me to writing classes and taught me to write. Didn’t realize at the time it was preparation for things to come.

When my first story was published by Alaska Magazine, I was at checkout at Carrs Scarfway in Eagle River and spotted my article’s headline on the cover and I shrieked. A close friend, Ginny Rollman was in the checkout behind me. I held the magazine high and yelled “I DID IT!” Ginny laughed and shrieked too. Everyone around us stared, then reached for the magazine as I yelled, “My whale story is in Alaska Freaking Magazine!” A bunch of people plucked it from the stands. THAT was a serious frozen-in-time dream cone true moment.

Along this journey many have encouraged, “Don’t give up, stick with it, work hard. If you love it, keep at it, don’t give up.” I even have a note from a celebrity author who said if I give up, he’ll kick my you-know-what. I wish I could thank every person who has said this. And wish I could thank every person who has enriched my life simply by crossing paths. I know it isn’t possible, but I’m throwing my thanks out to the universe anyway in hopes it will magically be received.

And for all of this I am grateful. So very grateful.


© Lois Paige Simenson and The Alaska Philosophaster, 2018, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to The Alaska Philosophaster with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.       


Written by Lois Paige Simenson

Leave a Comment