Saturday, June 25, 2011

Moving Forward

Guest Blogger: Dean Miller

Decades ago, before my FAA career moved me out of Oregon, I lived less than a mile from the Columbia River. A paved path wound its way along the shores of the mighty river for approximately a dozen miles. In those days long ago, I regularly ran down to the path and spent the next 45 minutes running in solitude along a river flowing with history. Typically my runs were early morning or late evening adventures. During those hours, along with the waters proximity, I enjoyed a temperately cooler environment. When fog or mist veiled the shoreline, I felt as if I was on a mystical journey.

On many of these runs, when fatigue began to make its present known, I would visualize myself in a "big race" against the greats of the time; Frank Shorter, Greta Wietz, Bill Rodgers and others. Using that "competition," I would push through the last couple miles. It was amazing that I won with such regularity.

Later in life I would lap swim to avoid the pounding on my aging body. Using the same technique, I could “hear” the voice of Jim McKay as he called the races as I “competed” against Mark Spitz in the 1972 Summer Olympics. In my world, it was me, not “Spitzy,” who stood on the top of the podium at the end of each race.

Now, as I enter the marathon-like world of writing, I find myself on my own. I’ve read hundreds of books, by nearly as many authors, but I’m unable to visualize myself as any other writer. This realm is too individualistic to mimic someone else and then call the finished product my own. I can’t even fantasize about working in the same “writer’s space” with famous authors, as I would ask question after question about their style and journey. Consequently, neither of us would get anything accomplished, and I certainly don’t want to upset the likes of Stephen King, Richard Bach or J.K. Rowling.

Someday I’ll find my niche. Until then, I’ll dream about the day when a book I’ve written appears on the local bookstore shelf. But for now, I’ll keep my feet propped up on a chair, with laptop in place, and continue writing. Though I’m tapping the back space button more than any other key, inside I know I am moving forward. That is enough to make me smile.

Do you have a favorite routine or alternate setting you visit to propel your writing forward?

Dean K Miller is a new member of NCW, having joined in January 2011. As a result, he's started his first book, with support from his critique group, "Type Cast." His blog, "And Then I Smiled" can be found at: He writes a monthly on-linefly fishing article for Elkhorn Fly Rod and Reel, and just debut an on-line serial titled "The River Zen" found at He also distributes free monthly email, tagged "Miller's Musings" which is his take on random life events. An FAA air traffic controller for 23 years, he lives in Loveland, CO with his wife and three daughters. He spends whatever free time he has left fly fishing on the Big Thompson River.


Jenny said...

Nice post, Dean. I'm not much of a runner, but I have lots of 'writer thoughts' when I walk the dog.

And I use the backspace key a lot, too :-)

bfav said...

My writer thoughts crowd my overcrowded brain too much. It's distracting, I have to squeeze them out at night--my only time to write.

I work through scenes in the shower.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Although I do most of my work in my home office at the computer, moving to my kitchen table with a pad and pen, or with a printed manuscript for reading and revising, is often helpful. The light is different, there are no internet distractions, and I'm closer to the coffee pot.

Kathleen said...

From my brother's woods (Portland) to mine (Carter Lake), I think you made a splendid move. You're a prize in our critique group, Dean.

Once you accept that the backspace key is critical to each writer, you'll stop being so hard on yourself. Writing is the easy part. Editing is much tougher. At least that's what I've found to be true in my own journey. I'm glad we're on the path together.

Edna Pontillo said...

That backspace key is the best. What would any of us do without it? Thanks for sharing the beginning of your writing journey. And for all you runners who write, no, make that writers who run, you'll find me hanging out near the coffee pot with Pat.

John Paul McKinney said...

A keyboard without a backbutton would be like a pencil without an eraser. I carry a little notebook in my pocket so I don't forget some gem, since ideas tend to seep out of this aging brain much more easily than they came in. Funny, though, sometimes when I look back at the notebook I can't imagine why I thought this or that was a gem. Also I believe that when a writer has a unique voice, as you surely do, there's no need to compare oneself to the "greats." JP McKinney

Share a Post