Tag Archive | Orcas Island

On Not Writing (Or, Of Fear and Fond Memories)

IMGP6957eCAMP_ORKILA_ROAD_ORCASA few winters ago, I lived with my friend Tracy in a house at camp, and I’ve probably written about this winter before, and I’m sure I will write about it a million more times because I was so freakin’ happy that winter.

The house at camp where I lived (called The Dispensary because in the summer, the medical staff lived there) looked like a cabin, with wood walls and this real “old” feeling to it, like living there was actually a time warp, in a nice way, back to something ancient, even though we did have modern conveniences there. I also loved the lights, they had a soft glow that on the wood walls just somehow reminded me of something primal. It actually had a feel that brought to mind my grandmother’s house, probably the only other house I’ve loved as much as I love the Dispensary. Something about that house was just like IV nutrition for my soul.

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Having Myself a Merry Little Christmas

xmasindexThis holiday season had the potential to be pretty depressing and lonely, as it’s the first one I’ve spent alone. Most years, I went back and saw my family, and last year I was here with Adrian and the doggie, and we barely acknowledged the existence of the holidays (or each other, it was a shitty holiday season). And in the past, since I wasn’t here, I never decorated or did anything for the holidays myself. This year, for some reason, I got it in my head that I needed a little Christmas.

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Home, Home Again

eastcoastfallimages…and I can definitely say, to quote another band, “what a loooooooong, strange trip it’s been.”

Three weeks and a day of traveling all over the east coast. I went from Philly to Allentown, PA, from there a quick trip up to Albany for a concert, then back to Allentown, then Boston, then Baltimore, then back to Allentown, then to NYC, then to Philly (with a trip from NYC out to Long Island to meet my ride back to Philly). Then yesterday morning, I left Philly for my trek back to Orcas Island, which, all told, took 18 hours.

In a way it was a rock star kind of trip, waking up in all these different cities. So many nights, I had the sensation of coming in or out of sleep and being disoriented, wondering where I was. It was great. Throughout the trip, I slept on couches, in two hotels, in a basement spare room, in a shared twin bed in a dorm room and on a pullout couch. I saw so many friends it was amazing. Not just the ones I stayed with, but friends I saw at concerts, friends who came to my reading in New York City, a friend who I rarely get to see and who is going to Iraq in January. We met for two hours, went out to eat at a brewery, it was the fourth time I’ve seen in the last seven years. I get a little choked up sometimes, just thinking about how precious it is to have these short encounters with people who matter.

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Is finished ever really finished?

writing-is-the-artYesterday was my target date. I was supposed to have the next draft of the book totally DONE.

Technically, I made it. Sometime Wednesday morning before work, I finished revising the last paragraph of the last chapter. I want to talk some about the process of writing this book.

It all started the first summer I lived on Orcas Island. I’d just made it out of hell and narrowly escaped homelessness in Seattle. I was offered a kitchen job at the camp that offered housing, which was my own room to myself, and food, and year-round work, sort of. I was staying somewhere, for the first time in years. I wasn’t fully on my feet but for once I didn’t have to worry about basic survival.

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I Work So Much Better When I’m Working

busyimagesIt’s a proven fact in my life: I get more done creatively when I’m working. I work at a YMCA camp, doing dishes and prep cook stuff. The days when I’m scheduled to go in, I get up, put in some hours on my book, take care of errands, and go in for my evening shift.

On the days that I don’t have work, I take naps, go on instant messenger, do nothing, tell myself I’ll get to my book later. I think the downtime is good for sure, and that my mind, heart, body and spirit need the rest and relaxation. I just find it a bit odd that I get my best creative work done when I’m also working.

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Just Introducing Myself

photo-4 newI’m a writer currently living on Orcas Island. I do fiction, poetry, essay, memoir and more. I also do freelance copy-editing and writing coaching, so if you’re interested in either, feel free to contact me for details.

I have a booth at the local Saturday Market where I have stories, memoir chapters and poetry for sale in little chapbooks, as well as CDs of a live performance I did last summer where I read writing pieces to an audience to raise money to get to a writing retreat at Esalen put on by The Sun magazine. Again, if interested in any of the above, contact me and I’ll hook you up.

My main jaunt at the Market booth is tarot reading. I use the Aleister Crowley Thoth deck for card readings of spreads ranging from one card to fifteen cards, with tons in between that address all sorts of specific or general issues. I offer over-the-phone and in-person readings by appointment, and incorporate astrology and numerology into longer appointment readings.

My current project and biggest time consumption is a memoir about my college years and the “school of life.” It’s titled Learning to Swim and I’ll probably post pieces of it here at this site. I have albinism, a genetic condition that affects 1 in 17,000 Americans. For those who aren’t familiar with it, albinism results in little or no pigment, and greatly reduced visual acuity (often legal blindness). I think I have an interesting story to tell as a girl growing up in America with a disability and looking different, and experiencing the world in all its anguish and beauty in a very deep way. I want to hold up the experiences to the light and let the reader peer at them very closely, the way I peer closely at everything.

Of the first major draft of the project, my first reader says:

“This is a book about vision (literally and metaphorically), about extreme courage, seeking to make your way and not settling for less, with a musical soundtrack that serves as its own journey providing clarity and perception along the way.” ~Stargazer

~Emilia J