Ros Nelson supports writers who are tired of hearing their friends say, "You should write a book!"
She lives just minutes from Lake Superior – the largest freshwater lake in the world by surface area – an "inland sea" with waves that can crest at over 30 feet. Lake Superior creates a mini climate, loved by fruit growers and creating "lake effect" snow.
Little Big Bay is located on Chequamegon Bay, close to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore: Little Place ~ Big Ideas ~ On the Bay.
Do you know it? The Loft is a wonderful place, designed for writers and lovers of books. Its beginnings trace back to a poetry reading by Robert Bly in 1973.
Now located in Minneapolis in a 1880’s vintage warehouse at 1011 Washington Avenue, it includes a small auditorium, classrooms, writing studios for rent, a book-centered gift shop, café and Minnesota Center for Book Arts where craftspeople create amazing books using traditional technology.
One of the features of the building that I really appreciate is that the architect was sensitive enough to leave historical traces from the building's past: a wonderful section of wallpaper or rough brick walls.
I notice that they have a number of online classes--a welcome addition--and two contests running right now, which may be of interest.
Some years ago, I allowed myself to fall backwards off of a 16-foot Zodiac into Lake Superior. In full scuba gear, we paddled into the first of numerous sea caves, a series of varying sized arches, strung along the shore, side-by-side.
I was not an especially experienced diver then. One of my informal guides that day was a very experienced cave diver. This man has traveled miles underground, mapping unexplored cave systems from which not everyone had returned. In retrospect, this might not have been the best guide for a slightly timid, new diver. But, I was also completely trusting. I operated under the erroneous belief that everyone else was more competent than myself.
In this case, my cave diver friend turned out to be a perfect guide. He indicated to me that I should swim toward an arch, descend, and move forward. I never questioned how he knew that this would actually lead to another cavern, but it did. We grinned at each other and felt triumphant!
In the series of caves, each was utterly unique. Some were happy, gurgling places where sunlight poured in. Others had an ominous quality and the sound was the heart beat of the Lake. At one point, "cave diver man" led us to a place where there did not seem to be an obvious destination, and suggested we descend and follow him... into what looked like utter darkness. I was apprehensive but "cave diver's girlfriend" nodded in assurance and I followed their fins obediently. We ascended in a cave space that was only accesible by an under water route. It was miraculously filled with light; golden and sand colors playing on the stone ceiling of our small and beautiful place.
How "cave diver man" knew that we would find this wonderful cavern, I will never know. In my life, I am often led by those braver than myself and for that I am grateful!
So, that was my introduction to "the sea caves" near Cornucopia in Lake Superior. Wet, nervous, exciting, beautiful. One of the larger caves is a huge split in the rock, large enough for a small boat or kayak. On each side are dark walls rising up to jagged rock edges. High overhead, these dark edges open to reassuring blue sky and white branches. It is not unusual to find an animal who has fallen into this crevice. It is the dangerous and sublime interior, the glimpse of what is normally unseen.
I am writing this memory because of the inspiration I found in Mary Dougherty's blog: http://thecookerymaven.com/2014/01/our-morning-at-the-sea-caves/ (Is it proper to blog a blog?) Mary is a wonderful photographer and teller of tales. Here you will see the frozen sea caves. And they have all the same qualities in winter as in summer: awesome and quirky and ephemeral.
"The locals" take this as their birthright. They are mostly here because they too, are awesome and quirky and ephemeral.
Describing what editing includes is tricky, as there are many levels. One of my writers, Starla J. King, (Wide Awake. Every Day.) asked me to describe the kind of editing I do. She specifically asked, being the good coach and writer that she is, "Which kind of editing fits YOUR vision and business?"
Putting words to this took more time than I had expected and it's important for my clients to understand, so I want to share it here. Thanks for the nudge, Starla!
COPY EDITING My initial involvement with copy begins when the first emails are exchanged with a potential client. This is when I usually see a manuscript sample and ask myself some big-picture questions. -- Is this a good fit for my business and print capabilities? -- Would I love to work on this project but can see that a specialist in a particular field will need to be called in for one level of the proofing? -- Does this manuscript stand out from the crowd; is it worth pursuing or does it need a new twist? -- Does the author have a clear goal for this project?
If it looks like we're a good match, the editing stage begins.
WHAT KIND OF EDITING IS NEEDED? I do not offer big picture re-writes – structural advice, plot or dialogue development, settings, tension, and the like. I work with manuscripts that the author considers to be final and which have already gone through the rigors of a developmental edit.
It would seem at this stage, that the copy is ready for formatting but fine-tuning is still essential. This is not because the author is lacking in skill or talent but simply because after working on a document for months, it's impossible to spot what a fresh eye can see.
The best way to employ my skills is to trust me to make meaningful edits. The majority of these are grammar, punctuation, introduction of paragraphs or subheads (in some kinds of text), clarification of meaning (If I don't get it, the end reader won't either.), and countless subtle ways to make a writer shine.
The trust comes in because I make suggestions that go past this copy editing level. I will be able to spot awkward or repetitive word choices, missing transitions, clichés or spots where a character falls out of character.
I basically do copy editing with my creative and analytical brain in high gear.
This is a great opportunity for the writer to take a big breath, lean back, and have the pleasure of a hard-working companion and an enjoyable, creative relationship. If I am publishing the book, I begin the typographic process here too. It's amazing what shows up when the document starts to "look real."
DOES EVERY MANUSCRIPT NEED THIS? In a word, yes. And it truly is impossible to avoid. Why would we want to publish something that we haven't examined carefully?
I give my final point over to Rumi. “If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”
On July 5, 2013, author Rob Ganson, his wife Donna, and a few others, were walking in the ancient hills of the Penokees. It was a beautiful day and they were surrounded by lush, green forest as they hiked to a core sample drilling site to witness and document the damage. The Penokees were under siege by a mining company.
2.2 billion years old and once as high as the present day Alps, the Penokees are now gently rolling hills just south of Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. Their perfectly balanced eco-system supplies some of the purest drinking water in the world, and nourishes the wild rice of the Kakagon Sloughs – 40% of all the wetlands of the Lake Superior basin. Waters emerge from this watershed in many ways, one of which is the Bad River, which flows through the home of the Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Chippewa.
The Hills are in the crosshairs of GTac which hopes to destroy them (and the watershed) through mountain top removal and extraction of low grade iron ore, creating "the largest taconite mine in the world." Not incidentally, GTac's president, Bill Williams, has impending legal action against him for causing severe environmental damage in his last project, Cobre Las Cruces, in Spain.
It was on this summer day that Rob was to be the first to witness a heavily armed militia that GTac had hired to intimidate people like himself.Photos taken that day were soon shared around the world. Here are Rob's own words.
"As we neared the active drilling operation, I noticed what appeared to be military personnel, wearing camo fatigues and brandishing military assault rifles as well as sidearms. One of these operatives stepped out from the woods behind us, placing us in a crossfire situation. The operative standing behind the barrier was not masked. He held a Fin Scar military assault rifle with a high capacity magazine, holding thirty or more rounds of .223 or .308 ammunition. The rifle was equipped with a flash suppressor. He was not wearing a mask, and his trigger finger was often inside the trigger guard.
The operative who had stepped out behind us was armed with an assault rifle based on the U.S. military M-16/AR-15. This rifle also had a high capacity magazine, but instead of a flash suppressor, was equipped with a silencer. He WAS masked, which made me wonder if he was the one who would do the "dirty work." A third armed operative was harder to observe.
We walked closer to the drilling operation and its taped-off barrier and I attempted to engage the men in conversation, offer them doughnuts, talk to them about the extreme heat, bugs, etc., but got no response at all. We took photos, then turned to walk back down the ridge. As we passed the man who had walked out behind us, I approached him and, said, "I hope they gave you guys some damn good bug dope!" He gave me a slight grin and a nod. That was the only time they responded."
What kind of irony is it that a poet-activist would be one to discover and document a group of militia hired to threaten (and kill?) U.S. citizens? It was soon discovered that they were operating illegally but absent any action from the Iron County, Wisconsin prosecutor, no one was has ever been required to answer for this.
The struggle goes on and unlike the mining company which chooses assault weapons, Rob has chosen words. Many of the poems in "70% Water: Poems from the Great Divide" are based in his passionate fight to defend the Penokee Hills and watershed.
Here is an excerpt from "Notes on the Birth of a Poet-Warrior."
"A flawed, imperfect man, it seems, can stand for something sacred late in life, can rise like a Phoenix from selfish ashes, sin and strife to fight for the water, the air, the land.
Even though my gifts are few, my spirit weak, the circle is the path I seek. The battle for the water is the one I choose, and it’s hard to beat a determined poet ...