Amanda’s note: Life is crazy, so hooray for a guest post! I am so excited to host Jim Landwehr on the blog today. he’s a terrific guy and his memoir is gaining quite the following.
Amanda has asked me to Guest-Blog for her today. I put it on my calendar when I committed to it about 6 weeks ago and then promptly forgot about until yesterday when my calendar dinged and reminded me. Technology saved face for me again.
I’m not sure if Amanda wanted a blog about something specific, so I thought I’d tell you a bit about my book, Dirty Shirt: A Boundary Waters Memoir. Amanda and I share the same wonderful publisher, eLectio Publishing, and that is actually how we met.
So, a little about Dirty Shirt.
For those who don’t know, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a million-acre protected wilderness in Northern Minnesota that borders Canada. Almost all of the lakes are accessible only by canoe and the campsites are minimalistic and primitive (though beautiful). For example, here’s a good shot of the upstairs bathroom.
Yes sir, this is not your Holiday Inn we’re talking about.
Anyway, I took my first camping trip there in 1979 with three high school friends as our attempt to take a “senior trip.” We originally were shooting to drive to California – like most high school seniors dream – but that plan was quickly thwarted when specifics like a car to drive there, hundreds of dollars we didn’t have and other key factors were considered.
Well, needless to say, with the exception of maybe a fatality or two, the trip couldn’t have gone worse. We did EVERYTHING wrong. The movie Deliverance had nothin’ on us. Needless to say a couple of us didn’t finish the trip.
The crazier thing is, the following year, two of us went back up and retraced the route. We were determined to “do it right.” With a few exceptions we pretty much did. It spurred my deep love for the area and led to a series of trips up there with my brothers in the late 80’s and early 90’s. These trips were filled with laughs, mishaps and tons of sibling bonding. We were all raised in a single parent family, my dad having been murdered in 1967. He loved the area as well, so we thought it would be kind of cool to trace his footsteps as brothers. Cool indeed. The trips brought us closer than we could have ever hoped to become via different means.
The third part of the book picks up twenty-plus years later when three of us brothers decide to pass the love of the area on to our kids by including them. These trips have their own mishaps and calamities including unintended underwater photography, broken fishing rods and a crazed loon. The kids loved the adventure of it all and are excited to be returning to the area for the third time this summer (2015).
On top of a lot of humor and family relationship building, there is a bit of sadness near the end of the book, which I try and use to assert my faith in God and that His earth and the people we are put on it to share it with, are all part of His beautiful creation.
From a writing standpoint the book took essentially four years to write, on and off. I have always loved to write, but have only begun to take it seriously in the past six years or so. I’ve had a fair amount of success with getting both my nonfiction and poetry published. If you’d have told me six years ago that I’ve have the portfolio I do, and a book, and a poetry collection coming out (Written Life, 3/31/2015 on eLectio Publishing) I would have said you’re out of your tree – to use a camping metaphor.
So, that is my story. I do want to say that I’ve had the best experience with fellow eLectio Authors who have proven to be extremely supportive and helpful. Also, I am eternally indebted to Jesse Greever and Christopher Dixon and the rest of the eLectio Publishing staff for making Dirty Shirt and Written Life happen. To have them recognize that my memoir, though not explicitly Christian in nature, has enough positivity in it to appeal to a broad audience is flattering. The whole process has been a dream come true, and I am grateful to that “ ‘lil old Press from Texas,” to use a ZZ Top metaphor.
I’m also on Facebook and Twitter @jimlandwehr61.
And finally, I have to thank Amanda Romine Lynch for hosting me. I’ve started Anabel Unraveled and am enjoying it. She is a terrific writer! Have a great week everyone and…Happy Paddling!