Since moving to Missoula, I’ve been asked by a bunch of people what I think so far.
In short: the place is amazing.
There’s no mid-size plus town in the lower 48 that can compare within the context of the great outdoors. No town is closer to a national forest. No town is near this much wilderness. Yellowstone is three hours away. Glacier is two and a half hours. The Lolo National Forest, one of the largest and wildest national forests in the lower 48 sprawls across 2 million acres.
The town itself is lovely, with older brick buildings surrounded by 1950’s bungalows, and new construction in the peripheral foothills. The community is a mix of progressives, conservatives and ranchers, leaning towards liberal. Missoula is also a university town, which helps with diversity and liveliness.
However, the impression I’m getting is that if you’re older than 26 and no longer in school, Missoula is a lot smaller than you think. I had planned to arrive in this amazing town, bear down on my new novel, and then expand my photography and connection with the natural world right at my doorstep.
This did not happen.
Instead, I dove into the social scene. My writer brain insisted, so I listened. It’s been a whirlpool of activity, with many positives and a few negatives. And apparently no bottom.
No one begins an endeavor without good intentions (or at least selfish ones). But what we want to happen often flips into something else entirely. A novel I had been working on (THE CORROSION) has been completely sidetracked by the move. I had concrete expectations upon moving to Missoula. But what I thought was concrete was sand, loose and grainy through my fingers and toes.
Writing in Chicago was always so easy for me. I felt suffocated by the endless sprawl there, so naturally most of my stories were about people being trapped. But here, in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I want to write about flowers and snow-capped peaks and the heady scent of ponderosa pine as the forest thaws for the first time.
So I sought drama, gluttony, anxiety, and tension. And guess where I found it? Downtown Missoula.
Ultimately, a writer shouldn’t need to be inspired to work. The pros wake up, engage in their routine and churn the words out. Sometimes with thick beards, cigars, and a glass of whiskey. That sounds good on paper, but people aren’t robots. We feel, we need, we crave, we lose our balance. We lose track. And a writer must find his/her way back any way possible.
So instead of writing about butterflies or horses, I found my drama. I found my source.
The words are flowing now for THE CORROSION. I hope to have the first draft complete in a month. Flower-free.
I’m constantly amazed at the paths and surprises life offers. Chicago to Missoula is such a contrast. It’s what I’ve always wanted. It is my dream.
It still is.
But it’s not exactly what I dreamed. It’s not all sunshine, not all Rocky Mountain Glory©. There are blacks and purples and dark reds smeared across the painting I had envisioned in my mind. But if I take a step back and really look, isn’t that even more beautiful?
In other writing news, expect a release date announcement for my debut novel THE PULLER soon. And another announcement piggy-backed on the release date. I so wish I could tell you about it right now, but then I’d be violating the contract.