3 February 2022

Today, I started to write a novel. Fiction writing isn’t entirely new to me. I published a novel some years back, and have written a number of short stories and dramas. Lately, however, my make-believe stuff has been mostly allegorical or satirical. To take on another novel is challenging – and also surprising. I didn’t say to myself, “I’m going to write a novel;” I just started writing it.

   Remembering the timeless (and very useful) advice to new authors to “write what you know,” you might guess that my incipient novel about human interactions will somehow be about my own life, my own family, and my own career. There are certainly elements of those, but mostly just for background and “framing” purposes. What I’ve written so far includes lots of birds and wildlife refuges and environmental issues: the fabric of my own life. The story begins in 1965 – a time critical in my own life - so the political and societal issues are real.  Certain individual stories arose from incidents in my life, or those of friends or co-workers, but they are just shadows of the real thing. In many cases, I have purposely changed times, places and circumstances until “fact” has become “fiction.” Just as likely, we octogenarians and older (some still living, mostly dead) told these same stories so many times, with so many variations to make them more exciting and interesting – or just because we forgot what really happened – that they were already fantasy before I added them to the current mix.

   The characters in my story are composites, bits and pieces of everybody I’ve ever known or known about, but none would be recognizable as any real person, living or dead. My two main characters are absolutely unique, their personalities and their experiences built completely from my imagination. I don’t know where that imagination came from – but I like them, a lot!

    The writing is going surprisingly well, I think; complete chapters seem to come pouring out of my head directly into my “pen” (i.e., computer), already formatted and nearly final. I only remember that happening once before: years ago - on a solo, three-hour drive home in the middle of the night - I “wrote” an entire short story in my head – complete with characters, circumstances, and dialogue. Later, it was all still so clear to me, that I put it on paper, almost word for word as I first imagined it. (Later still, I re-wrote it as a short play, that a group of us performed once. It was pretty good, I think.)


4 February 2022

   There is one thing with my current endeavor that has never happened before, and I find it a little eerie and upsetting. When I’m deep into some emotional dialogue, or creating a particular situation, I’ll find myself thinking, “What is Vic going to say to that?” “How will Greg handle this?” You may say, that’s completely logical: Because I’m writing the story – making things happen – I will obviously be thinking ahead to the next line, to the character’s response. The story can’t continue unless I do that. Sure, I know that, but this is different. Sometimes, I’ll write something, and think: Vic needs to hear this – see this – right now. How will she take it? What will she say? For a moment, I seem to believe myself in a real world, with  a Real Vic, who will consider what I wrote, and tell me her thoughts. But, of course, there is no Real Vic, or Real Greg. Greg is me; Vic is me. Neither will ever hear this. I suddenly remember that, and the reality leaves me momentarily disappointed and sad. I like them too                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    much for them not to really be here with me.


5 February 2022

   I think writing this novel is good for me, for my mental wellbeing. For several years, I’ve just been coasting along, feeling generally disappointed with the world, and not seeing anything worth looking forward to. I thought of it as ennui, a general boredom with life that could be “cured” by the right stimulus. But ennui is a self-indulgent thing, like being in a particular rut one can climb out of, if one really wants to. I think my condition has been more like that described by the German word weltschmerz: yearning for the world to be different than it is, but being absolutely helpless to do anything about it. In my writing world, the characters are not real; their joys and sorrows are not real; their troubles and triumphs are not real. Still, they represent what a lot of us thought the world could be like – and should be like! I’m welcoming the chance to consider that, again.


6 February 2022

 I don’t know if I’ll finish this novel before I die. I don’t know who might read it, if I do. My fantasy is that, sometime in the future, the world will be better, again. Then, some real life “Greg” and “Vic” will serendipitously find a copy, and read it together. They will smile – and occasionally laugh outright – at the absurd, silly, questioning, understanding, and (finally) loving dialogue. They may find their eyes getting a little moist at the more challenging moments. Eventually, they’ll close the book, look at each other, smile, and say: 

   “Yes, that’s us. He got it right!”


7 February 2022

   I think I’m falling in love with Vic. I mentioned before that she sometimes becomes very real to me, to the point that I’d really like to share some bit of writing with her at that very moment. I don’t know what is the attraction. I don’t think she would have been my dream girl had I met her in the 1960s. If, by any chance, she was, I’m pretty sure I would not have come anywhere near being her dream boy!  But maybe, twenty-five years later – when we’d both matured and become the type of people we were supposed to be – a connection might have developed. I can sort of see it.

8 February 2022

   The writing is been going remarkably fast, I think. I’ve already drafted fifteen chapters, obviously not all in final, polished format, but all of them pretty far along. I do see a problem looming, though.

   I’ve created a big issue – it’s really mixed up with almost everything that happens in these early chapters. I want it to be; I want to sort of dole it out little by little, until the whole story finally comes out. My problem right now is that I don’t see how to resolve it in a way that will make the rest of the story go somewhat in a way I want for them.


9 February 2022

   How will this story end? As well as it’s been going, I’m having some trouble seeing what’s next.

 It is said that God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46.10). I am not God, and I had no idea when I started where this story would go. I still don’t.


10 February 2022

   The idea for a new chapter came to me, and I quickly drafted it. I thought I had the perfect place to insert it into what I had already written. Today, I checked my “events calendar” and found that the day I wanted the new chapter to happen was Mother’s Day. I already had Mother’s Day covered in another way.

  I think the chapter is a good one, worth rethinking where it belongs. My problem is that the events covered have to happen fairly early in Spring, and I’m running out of openings for new material in Spring.


11 February 2022

   Found a little item I needed to correct. When I first started writing, I selected (for no particular reason) Lawson as the family name for Vic. But Lawson is of English or Scottish origin, and Vic’s family roots are in North Dakota, where the population is strongly either German or Norwegian. I decided on Anderson as the family name, and changed all the Lawson references accordingly.


12 February 2022

   I solved the Mother’s Day conflict quicker than I thought I would, and I think the fit is actually better in a new place. Getting the episode placed correctly for the season turned out to be easy.


13 February 2022

   Up to this point in my writing, it has only been possible for Vic and Greg to see each other once (occasionally, twice) a week. Suddenly, they could see each other almost every day, if they wanted to. But, in line with proposed future events, I don’t want them that chummy. How do I keep them apart?

14 February 2022

    A criticism of my first novel was that it had too much dialogue. I didn’t take it as criticism because my writing is often about communication. To communicate, people have to talk to one another. This novel is starting out pretty chatty, too.

   One problem I do have is describing the environments in which things happen. If I want the leaves to blow in the trees, and maybe make little rustling sounds, that’s pretty much all I got! I know that some readers would like a little more content than that, and I agree with them. I’m trying. (On the other hand, I sometimes feel angry or betrayed when an author spends two pages describing what a room looks like. Then, we find out later that the decor of the room doesn’t have anything to do with the story. It’s sort of a “sound and fury, signifying nothing” situation.)


15 February 2022

   I need to be careful with my history! Right now, I’m writing a section on ranchers who just organically “hate the Government.” I lived through it in the 1960s and beyond, but in those days, there was a lot of bad mouthing (I’m sure I learned a few new swear words in that period), a little fence-cutting, and such – definitely not comfortable, but you learned both to live with it and do your part to make it better, if possible. I remember all that, but when I start writing it down, I get pictures in my mind of assault rifle-armed, camouflage-wearing terrorists taking over a national wildlife refuge, destroying property, pillaging American Indian religious sites, and depriving refuge employees of their homes for weeks. Yes, that’s what’s happening in the 21st century. Thankfully, my characters won’t have to live through those times for many years.

16 February 2022

   A couple of needed course corrections. I thought I had a good idea for the chapter I was working on. I thought I could have Greg in town Friday, just in time to pick up the Anderson girls and save them the long bus ride home. But then I saw that there was no way those girls were not going to talk all the way home about the upcoming prom. I don’t want Greg to hear about that until the next chapter, and then just with Vic. 

   Also, it’s looking like the business of a new recruit for the refuge should come up in this chapter, rather than a couple weeks later, as I had originally planned. I’m pretty sure I wrote something about it in a draft for a later chapter. I’ll have to find that, and delete or modify it. 


17 February 2022

   I made a major error in placing the big bird migration at the end of April. I checked my old notes from my two years in Idaho, and discovered that I had been remembering it wrong. Spring migration is not in full swing until the latter part of May.

   I had to re-write much of Chapter 3 (and I really liked it, the way it was!). I also had to go through four or five other chapters and modify what I had said about bird species. I still haven’t figured out exactly where I’ll plug the migration story back in.

 18 February 2022

When I started writing an historical novel (and, to most people, 60 years ago is historical), I hadn’t given much thought to how people talked back then. I mean, I was there! Surely, I know how I sounded. Or do I? I mean, I know we didn’t answer every question or statement with ‘Absolutely!’ – whether or not there was anything absolute  (i.e., without question) about it. But we also didn’t talk the computer – information transfer language that rolls off our tongues so easily now. There were few personal computers before 1990. (I didn’t get my first one until 1994.) We couldn’t decide to watch a movie at home on our VCR, because the first Blockbuster video rental store didn’t open until about 1980. Almost nothing I’ve said or done in the last 40 years is moveable back to 1965!

   I don’t think I’ve made any major gaffes, but I’ll need to re-read everything carefully.

19 February 2022

   No particular insights or revelations today; just working on the details of a new chapter. Oh, relating to my 17 February comments, I did find a good place to plug in the migration story.


20 February 2022

   One of the perils of writing chapters out of sequence, which I often do to capture a good idea: I gave Greg’s former girlfriend the same name as the heroine in a novel, who I would later compare to Vic. The “find and replace” function on my computer got a little workout to change the girlfriend’s name.

21-24 February 2022

I’ve just been going back over the chapters, and my timeline, to make sure everything still fits. I’ve found a few little glitches, but nothing major.

25 February 2022

   I wrote a chapter about the first time Greg and Vic enjoy adult sex together (the first time with anyone, for both of them). It’s fairly explicit, but I think it goes well with what I've written so far. There are many chapters to go before it enters the story, but I wanted to write it while they are having so much fun getting to know all aspects of one another, and of their relationship. When they get to it, I want them to be feeling that same sense of new knowledge, exploration, and discovery that they are experiencing right now. 

   I think when some people read the chapter, they will laugh and say, “Yes! That’s just how it was with us.” Others will say wistfully, “I wish it had been like that.” Still others will say, with eager anticipation, “God, I hope it will be like that for me!”

26 February 2022

    I’m finding it hard to write a story set in the past, when I know the future. In my ‘eighties, I’m disappointed in the state of our nation, and the world. They may have similar feelings in 50 or 60 years, but in 1965 there aren’t even shadows of what’s to come to worry them. They’re going to make their decisions based on their present day, and how they hope things will be 10 or 20 years down the line. That’s what I want them to do. If they live to be 70 or 80, they may be disappointed but, probably like me and many of my contemporaries, they won’t be sorry about the life they chose and the paths they took. I just have to remember that as I write.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

   I do have a problem imagining what they will do with their lives. I started Greg out as I started out – as an assistant manager on a small national wildlife refuge. It’s a beginning that I know about, and I even had my journals to help me create a real environment for him. The bird migrations, the nesting cycle, the weather, and even the types of work that keep him occupied are based on real events in the 1960s in Idaho.

   But I don’t want Greg to follow in my footsteps. He’s a much different person than I was at that age, and his pairing with Vic is almost certain to take them in different directions than Sally and I traveled. I think they’re going to have a good time.

27-28 February 2022

   I pretty much decided today that I’m going to change one ongoing story line, and make it end with a whimper rather than the bang that seemed inevitable. I won’t have to change anything I’ve written so far; I’ll just have to rethink what eventually happens. It may take some of the drama out of the story, but, the way I was heading, it looked like it was leading to a trauma from which they probably would never recover. I’m willing to saddle then with the usual losses, sadness, and disappointments – the kind we all suffer from in life – but I love them too much to give that particular burden to them.

3 March 2022

   It pays to re-read what you’ve written previously. I found that, when I had to put the great migration in a different chapter, I had left several identical paragraphs in the old location – where they made absolutely no sense. I did a little rewriting.

4 March 2022

   After finding the migration story repeat yesterday, I read the entire manuscript through, looking for any other errors I might have made. Even though I’m pretty meticulous with my editing after all these years, I found more than half a dozen little problems – incorrect punctuation, and misspelled or incorrect words that the spell-check on the computer didn’t catch.

9 March 2022

   Factual fiction. That’s what I’m trying to write. The characters and the story line are completely made up, but I’m trying to introduce enough real-life “facts” to make it plausible. For example, there is no national wildlife refuge in Idaho that looks like what I describe. However, I’ve used my journals from the Minidoka Refuge in 1963-1964 to “show” what my fictional Idaho refuge would be experiencing in the way of bird migration, weather, refuge operations, etc., on those same dates in 1965. The setting of a fire on the refuge in July 1965 (Chapter 17) is very similar to an actual event that occurred at Minidoka in 1963; the lightning storms and firefighting events I describe were gleaned from Idaho newspapers for those actual days in 1965. The “equal opportunity” employment described in Chapter 9 actually occurred in 1965, but at the Sacramento Refuge in California. When Vic and Greg went to the movies in Pocatello, I went to the 1965 newspapers online to find out what was actually showing on those dates. Their attendance at a Broadway play in Salt Lake City “occurred” on an actual date in 1965 when the musical “Carousel” opened there. My refuge manager’s “reminiscence” of where he heard the news of the Kennedy assassination  is a true telling of where I was at the time.

   It’s fun trying to weave fact and fiction together to present a more or less true picture of what 1965 was like in southern Idaho.

19 March 2022

     I’ve been taking a break from active writing about Vic and Greg, while I work on another research/writing project that needs finishing. I haven’t completely abandoned them – the story keeps developing in my head, no matter what else I’m doing – and I did take the time to read the entire manuscript, searching for more needed changes. Although I “edit” constantly, I still found about a dozen entries that needed work. They weren’t all errors; some involved replacing awkward text with different wording that sounded better to me this time around. There weren’t many obvious “typos;" my computer spell checker does very well finding those. What it won’t find are real words that are the wrong words. For example, if I type “on the house” when I mean “in the house,” the words are real words and it’s still grammatically correct, so the computer ignores it. Those errors take the eagle eye of a human editor to catch.

   Unfortunately, the “eagle eye” of the self-editor isn’t always 20:20. If I know what I meant to write, a quick skimming of the page often “sees” what should be there, not what is there. Sometimes, it takes reading individual sentences several times, and thinking about what you’re reading, before you catch the problem. I find this difficult to do on the computer screen, so I print out the chapter – in a font several sizes larger than I would normally type – and then carefully read the “large print” version. This technique catches most of the needed corrections, but it’s still a good idea to enlist someone else to read the manuscript – someone reading with fresh eyes.


20 March 2022

     The “real” Sally and I are only a few years older than the fictional Vic and Greg. Stretching the definition slightly, we could all be called “war babies”  - born in or just after World War II, and strongly influenced by the post-war society.  But when writing the novel, I need to remember that we aren’t really of the same generation. Sally and I reached our ‘20s still strongly influenced by the traditions of our parents. Although there were many exceptions, the family model we grew up with was predominantly one of the male bread winner and the female principal parent and overall helpmate.

   By the mid-60s – as a result of Vietnam, civil rights, “women’s lib,” new environmental awareness, and other societal considerations – the model changed quickly. “Family” was still important, and many were still based on man at work – woman at home, but there were lots of new expressions. In my own field of natural resources preservation and management, the changes were profound. At my college in the early ‘60s, there were only three women majoring in forestry or wildlife management. By the mid-‘70s, nearly a quarter of the natural resources student body across the United States were women. And they weren’t (as we might chauvinistically have said before 1965) looking for husbands; they were looking for careers!

   As I’ve said before, I gave Greg an early career similar to my own, but I’ve always been sure that he wouldn’t follow in my footsteps. Similarly, his relationship with Vic, and their eventual family arrangements, would almost certainly be much different than Sally’s and mine. 


22 March 2022

   I’ve arranged a surprise birthday celebration for Vic and her sister Mandy, involving an overnight trip to a mysterious Somewhere. I wrote the start of that section with plans to have two weeks between the arrival of the invitation and the actual event. As I considered it further, it seemed to me that was too long; a shorter time would be intriguing and exciting, but a longer one might just be frustrating – and actually take some of the fun out of the surprise. I had to rewrite quite a bit of two chapters, but I think this is a better scenario.

25 March 2022

   I ran into another need for revision in my attempt to be authentic. One of my basic premises in “planning” Vic’s and Mandy’s trip to Salt Lake City was that they would walk from their hotel to the theater where a musical was being performed. While doing some newspaper research today, I discovered that the Valley Music Hall was not in downtown Salt Lake City, but was in North Salt Lake – an area which at that time didn’t appear to have any hotels or motels! Since they would have to drive from wherever they stayed, I “selected” a hotel that seemed to be a little nicer than average, to enhance their experience.

   (Not relevant to the story, but an interesting note: the Valley Music Hall, that officially opened with the July 1965 performance of “Carousel” - and was touted as one of the finest theaters-in-the-round in the world, and a major                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              boon to Utah – closed after only a few years. It was later bought by the Mormon Church, and is now a community center for the City of Bountiful.)

26 March 2022

       I’ve been thinking of Vic’s sister, Amanda, as just a background character. Now, I’m finding that she is an important and integral part of the story.  She’s smart and feisty, and a perfect complement to Vic. No wonder they are best friends, as well as sisters.

6 April 2022

  In an upcoming discussion, I wanted Greg to use the term “situation ethics,” to describe how he approaches certain issues and decisions. However,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       the discussion occurs in August 1965, and Joseph Fletcher (Professor of Social Ethics, Episcopal Theological School) – who is generally considered to have “invented” the term – didn’t publish his book, Situation Ethics, until 1966. Nevertheless, I found that he had given three major presentations on the subject between 1959 and 1964, and probably a number of smaller ones. Also, I found that at least one other author had used the term in early 1965, in a similar way to Fletcher’s usage.

   I conclude that Greg could have been exposed to the term in his junior or senior year at college, and it will be okay for him to talk about it, as long as he doesn’t get too deep into concepts and principles from the 1966 book. (That’s not a problem; it’s not that kind of discussion.)


10 April 2022

   Similarly to my timing problem with “situation ethics,” I wanted to mention the “big bang” theory of Creation. The term wasn't used a lot until the 1970s, but I found it mentioned as early as 1949, and notably in 1964, which fit it nicely into my story.


17 April 2022

   I’ve been working on my story, but for the last couple of weeks, it’s been mostly in my head. Now that Greg and Vic are seriously considering life together long-term, they get into a discussion of religion and church attendance. I’ve been confusing the story (and myself!) by thinking too much about how I felt in 1965 versus how I feel today, not about Vic and Greg and their feelings in 1965. It’s been hard! Obviously, writers “write what they know,” so some of me gets put into every character. Still, they are not me, and I don’t want them to be.

   I think I solved the problem today by making it less of an academic presentation, and more of a chat between Vic and Greg, in which the discussion proceeds more normally.

26 April 2022

   Things have become complicated in the month before Vic goes off to college. Just the idea of being away from her family - and from Greg! - is getting harder to handle than she thought it would be. Then, there are a number of other issues that are crowding in on her. On the drive to college, she has a pretty emotional breakdown. Greg is trying to help, but will he know what to do?

   The resolution is still several chapters away. i don’t see how it’s going to work out, yet.

7 May 2022

   I’ve been writing merrily away these past couple weeks, and am pretty happy the way the story is unfolding. One thing I noticed, however, is that I’m telling a lot of it from Greg’s standpoint. Vic asks a lot of questions, and we find out a lot about Greg from her inquiries, but sometimes I’m neglecting Vic. For example, we got a pretty good lecture from Greg on his feelings about religion and God, but I almost forgot that Vic has feelings, too. I corrected that. We know a lot about what Greg likes to read, and we know that Vic is enjoying the books that Greg gives her. But, so far, we don’t know what Vic was reading before Greg started giving her old British romance adventures. I’m trying to fix that, now.

16 May 2022

   I’ve completed another couple of chapters recently, but I’ve been spending much of my time researching information for current and future tales. I read a book on “situation ethics,” which figure in a chapter I was just working on. I also read a history of abortion law in the United States, a subject that also comes up in a current chapter. I was surprised to learn that there were no abortion laws in the United States prior to about 1850. We followed English common law, allowing abortions to take place without restriction until “quickening” (obvious movement) of the fetus, which occurs at about four months. I also learned that it was the American Medical Association that was the main driving force on the abortion bans put in place in the second half of the 20th century. Their reasons were not “medical,” and they are pretty disgusting.

29 May 2022

   It came to me, kind of out of nowhere, that I probably had made a mistake about history several months ago. Writing about the refuge hunting program, and a new manager coming on board, I remembered that I had written that they hadn’t been introduced to “him or her,” yet. That would have been okay, if I had been writing about 1969. In 1965, it was almost impossible that the new manager would have been a woman. It was still pretty much a male occupation for another few years after that, until women began to graduate from colleges with wildlife degrees. I amended the sentence.


 1 June 2022

   I had written portions of two chapters that I thought should detail events after Vic had been at college a while. I decided to speed up the time line, and I moved that information forward a month or so. I think it works better, now.

16 June 2022

   I was having some trouble remembering the names of secondary characters, and where in the manuscript they appeared. I decided to go page by page, and develop short bios of everybody – their names, any physical characteristics, how they entered the story, etc. I think it will help.

   While doing that, I found a couple of inconsistences between things I said in the early chapters, and those I developed later. For example, in Chapter One, I said that Chuck had worked on “several” refuges in North Dakota. When I developed more of his bio, I “found” (i. e. wrote) that he had only worked on two. Another example: in an early description of the refuge, I said it included “a lot of rimrock.” Later, when Tim and Greg walk the entire boundary line, Tim only has one stretch when he is up in the rimrock and out of the marsh. I’ll fix those inconsistencies.

  A format thing that I have to fix someday: I found several chapters typed in a different font and type size than the rest.  I’ll need to standardize.


18 June 2022

   As mentioned above, I’ve been reviewing the entire manuscript to date, looking for errors and inconsistencies. In the process, I’ve rediscovered what I think is my best piece of dialogue (so far). Since I am just bragging to myself here, I’ll brag.

   Vic has just read “Courts of the Morning,” the second John Buchan book featuring Janet (Raden) Roylance, who Greg said reminded him a lot of Vic. Vic has taken that to heart, and is now addressing Janet, and her, as one.


   “I love the Buchan characters. Archie is great, of course, and really able to show off his special talents in this story. I take it Blenkiron appears in stories I haven’t read, and the mysterious Sandy must be a Buchan staple in other series. I like Babs – Barbara – a lot, and I’m glad that she and Sandy are going to get together. That should make for some interesting adventures.

  “And then, of course, there’s me – well, Janet. Other than continuing to portray me – well, her - as some cute little blonde, Buchan is showing that I’m – or, she’s - not just some gorgeous beauty, but a deep, clever, compassionate person. Someone else besides Archie (and you, of course) falls in love with me – or her - for who I am – or, who she is - not what I look like – or she looks like. It’s all very nice.”

   “I doubt that anybody but me – or Archie – could follow all that, but I – or we – can, and agree with your assessment. Buchan has definitely captured your – or her – essence.”

   She gave him a contented grin. “I’m ready for another.”

   “Book, or kiss?”

   “How about both?”

20 July 2022

   I haven’t written any journal notes for a month, but I haven’t been idle. I’ve been doing a lot of research on Idaho State University in 1965, including corresponding with a political science professor there. It turns out he was raised in Rupert, Idaho, where my fictional wildlife refuge (and where the real Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge) is located. I’ve piqued his curiosity about what his political science department was like in the ‘60s, and he’s doing a little on-campus research for me.

   It’s a interesting story about how we started talking. I sent my first email query just to the poly sci department, because I didn’t know anybody there. The response I got back started, “I assume you are the Sanford Wilbur who wrote the vulture biology and management book.” What in the world? It turns out that he has been interested in the increasing numbers of turkey vultures in eastern Idaho, and just happened to connect my name! 

   I’ve been handling Vic’s first couple of weeks at school by letters between her and Greg. I think it is working, although it gets a little confusing because there is a week or more delay between sending a letter and getting a response. I think it will get too cumbersome if I keep going with that format. I need to find another vehicle.

   I am having mixed feelings about what happens with Vic and Greg in the next couple years. Does she stay at ISU? Do they get married sooner than I had originally planned for them? I have a number of scenarios buzzing through my brain.


5 August 2022

   In the mail today were some copies of pages from the ISU course catalogs for the late 1960s, sent by the Poly Sci professor I have been corresponding with. They included the course descriptions and names of faculty members from the Poly Sci department during that period. They will help me add a little more background “authenticity” to Vic’s college days.

   I am getting more and more interested in maybe having Vic and Greg move from Idaho after Vic’s first year at ISU. With that in mind, I contacted the archives at Portland State and Oregon State, and got copies of their course catalogs with information on 1960s out-of-state tuition costs, programs offered, teacher names, etc. I won’t need these for a while, but I have them in reserve, now, if I decide to go that direction.

24 August 2022

   I’ve been developing a story line involving a Vietnam “peace march” that supposedly occurred in the spring of 1965. To date, it had taken up space in two chapters, and I was about to write about it in a third. That’s when I discovered that I had the wrong date; the demonstration actually occurred in 1967 (i.e., in the future), not in 1965. I had copied the citation incorrectly.

   Because I want to get the historical background as accurate as I can – and because this particular event ties in with other story lines – I’ve had to re-write parts of two chapters, and revised my thoughts about what happens next. I think it’s working out okay, but has certainly required some                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               re-thinking, on my part.


25 August 2022

   I’ve been worrying some about what happens to Vic and Greg after “next spring.” I think I have the story pretty well figured out to that point, but there are a number of directions it could go, after that.

  I’m also a little worried about leaving my couple “stranded in time.” I don’t know if anybody other than me will ever read the story in its entirety – I’m not writing it for publication, as such. Even so, I’ll be 82 in a couple weeks, and who knows how long I’ll be writing. I’d like to bring it to at least a temporary “conclusion,” then write a “final chapter” covering how I think the rest of their lives might play out. If I’m still writing when I get to that point, I can just continue on, and change the “epilogue” as necessary.

29 August 2022

   I’ve been letting my “spell checker” do too much work, and it’s been doing it wrong. For instance, I’ve let it correct “Viet Nam” to “Vietnam” over and over again. However, in 1965, it was always spelled as two words. Now, I’ve gone back through all the chapters, and used “find and replace” to make the manuscript 1965-friendy, again.

  Again, concerning historical accuracy: “Negro” and “Colored” are not generally acceptable terms, today, but they were in 1965. My apologies to anyone who objects, but I don’t see that a case in which history needs to be re-written. (On the other hand, if one of my characters was the type who almost certainly would have said “nigger,” I will bow to a change in history.)

9 September 2022

  I made a little mistake a couple of chapters back, that I needed to correct. I had Vic ordering a glass of wine with her pizza, a no-no for a 19-year old in Idaho, even today. Too bad; it was a good way to introduce wine back into the story in a favorable light (after Greg’s first bad experience,                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         his first night on the job.) Oh, well. Easy to delete, anyway.

10 September 2022

   I woke up much too early this morning, and couldn’t go back to sleep. I made a cup of coffee, and took it out to the living room. and sat in the dark, drinking it. My thoughts turned to the problems of developing a credible background for my novel set in 1965, if I was operating by 1965 standards – i.e., no computer, no search engines. 

   I think I’ve been diligent in making sure there are no impossible errors – like citing an event that didn’t happen until 1966, or the lyrics of a song that hadn’t been written yet. But what if, for instance (and as I did), I quote the lyrics of a song written years before, but I tell what year it was written, and by who? Would it be possible for me to know that, without resorting to “Google,” which wouldn’t be invented for another quarter-century?

   I went through my manuscript, looking for situations like that – with books, music, movies, poetry, quotations, news events, etc. - and asked myself, how hard would it be to know – or find – that kind of information. The answer – in almost all cases – was, yes, it was possible, but such research in the days before search engines and major indexing projects could be really time consuming. You’d want to know some things really badly to take the time.

   The solution: just be really careful that I don’t commit my characters to time-consuming research that isn’t really necessary for the story’s progress.

14 September 2022

   It’s good to check. I had based some of my narrative on when Daylight Saving Time ended in 1965. Only problem: Idaho didn’t have DST until 1967.


26 October 2022

   I haven’t added any “Journal” notes in over a month, but I have been busy. I’ve been re-reading the story, and am still catching a few discrepancies, and areas that deserve a little more work. I have completed one new chapter, and have two more almost ready to go. I’m pretty happy with my progress.

27 October 2022

   Just making morning conversation, I mentioned to Sally that Vic and some of the “girls” from her dorm had attended a Pentecostal church on the Sunday just past. She asked how Vic liked it. I had to say that I don’t know yet, because I haven’t written the details.

   To begin with, Vic and the other characters were my captives. I decided what they looked like, how they acted, what they did, and even what they believed. Somewhere along the way, that changed. Once I started things moving, what came next seemed almost inevitable. It was still me writing things down, but more and more it has seemed like Vic – and Greg, and Mandy, and Chuck, and Alice, and all the others – have been  directing the story. I don’t always know what comes next; they always seem to.

   Take Mandy, for example. I introduced her, just because I wanted Vic to have a sister. For a number of chapters, she came and went in the background, but we didn’t learn much about her. Then, I needed her for a more specific part, but I thought it was more or less a one-time starring appearance. Now, twenty chapters later, she is a “main character,” not far behind Vic and Greg in importance. I didn’t plan it.

   Am I the captive, now?  (By the way, Vic has now told me how the Pentecostal church visit went.)

20 November 2022

   Is Vic as beautiful as Greg portrays her, or is that love talking? I guess I have to say the eyes of love are strongly involved, because I doubt that any person – male or female – is fully formed, and at their best, at age 19. Having said that, I think that Vic has some attributes that move her up the                                                                                                                                                                                                                             scale in a world full of pretty women.

   In a recent chapter, Mandy asked Greg why he and Vic use unusual words when they talk – not big words, but just words that are not the common ones that everybody else uses. Greg said that, while he might be able to write a story using only 100 words, he thought it would be more interesting if he used 200. As an example, he used the three words most often employed to describe girls and women: cute, pretty, and beautiful.

   “’Cute’ is your little sister, or what a Senior boy thinks when he sees a Freshman girl. ‘Pretty’ is kind of generic – lots of looks could be included in that description. ‘Beautiful’ seems the word for someone with  really classic good looks – you’d see her in a painting -  and maybe she’s just a little unreachable for us mortal men. Now, if those were the only words we had to describe the female of the species, I think it would be kind of sad. For instance, the only possible word for some women has to be gorgeous! Where would we be without that describer?”

   Greg gives his own description of Vic’s “beauty” in a make-believe conversation he has with her, when she asks him what of her physical features he likes best. 

   “Okay, the best thing is your face.”

   “My face? You mean, my smile?”

   “Well, that’s part of it. Actually, you have half a dozen specific smiles - all a little different, but all delightful to behold. You also have several hundred other facial expressions that I admire. They’re a very attractive part of you. I love to just glance over at you while you’re talking, and watch everything you’re saying being punctuated by particular looks or gestures. I remember watching you and Mandy talk when we were up for the football game. Of course, I haven’t said anything about your actual face. What can I say? Perfect eyes, perfect nose, perfect lips, perfect ears, perfect chin…”

   “Okay, okay. I get it,” she says, but with one of her smiles. “You like my face. What’s second best?”

   “Well,” he says, “The next things I think of are legs. I have to admit that, since I first realized that boys and girls were different, I’ve always been a connoisseur of legs, the ultimate female attributes. I have admired some good ones in my time, but few that even come close to the perfection of yours. You may cover them with jeans or long dresses, but I know they’re there, and my mind tells me all kinds of stories about them – and the stories are all amazing, too.”

   She leans contentedly against him. “Face. Legs. What’s next?”

   “There is no next. The next is the whole package – body and brain, both marvelous and unique, combining to produce the most beautiful woman in the world.”

   She snorts (but ladylike). “Come now, the most beautiful? I admit I look pretty good, but that’s love talking, not logic.”

   “Of course, it’s love talking,” he agrees. “But think about it. Face far above average; legs far above average; intellect far above average; general physical construction, far above average. Can any woman beat that?”

   She snuggles a little closer to him. “Right now, I am prepared to believe every word you say. With you, I do feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.”


27 November 2022

   I have a little rewriting to do. I erroneously believed that there wasn’t conscription (“the draft”) during World War II. There was, and it was far from the volunteer Army that I had been picturing. Not a big rewrite, but I need to change paragraphs in three chapters.

21 December 2022

   On several occasions, I’ve introduced real people into the novel. In the same way I comb through historical newspapers for actual weather data and real current events, my idea is to make the background of the novel as authentic to the times as I can. 

   Whenever possible, I have these real characters “speak” with actual words that they have used in newspaper stories or their published works. However, I have occasionally made up “conversations” they have with my fictional characters. That’s trickier, because I don’t want them to say anything that doesn’t fit with what I know they actually have said. Also, I don’t want to reach too far beyond the printed record to guess how likely such conversations would have been. 

   As I read through the manuscript, I need to check that everything is at least highly possible.

12 January 2023

   One potential problem with writing about the past is that, sometimes what we think we know for certain at the time, turns out later to be untrue. For example, I’m working on a section about the Viet Nam War. In 1965, almost everybody believed that the United States actively entered the war because some of our ships had been fired on by “the enemy.” Twenty-five years later, the public learned (through the declassification of official documents) that the alleged attack had never happened, and that the Administration fabricated the story to “legitimize” the expansion of our war effort. 

   I know this, but my 1965 characters don’t. I need to be careful to tell the story as they knew it, not as it really happened.

9 February 2023

   Recently, a friend asked if I’d ever considered working on my novel with a writers’ group. As she put it, Almost everyone I know who's working on a novel (or has written one) benefits enormously from exchanges with fellow writers.”

   No, I haven’t. When writing non-fiction or scientific papers, I welcome the input of others – either in the field I’m writing about, or in the writing field, itself. Fact checking, questioning whether I’ve really made a point, pointing out confusing statements, and (if not overdone) commenting on grammar and sentence structure are all helpful in putting together a tight presentation. 

   I look at fiction – particularly fiction like mine, that relies heavily on dialogue – differently. People don’t talk grammatically. They don’t converse in complete sentences. They start and stop in all kinds of places that don’t fit with rules of formal English. Reviewers who want to concentrate on word choice or sentence structure aren’t of use to me. The only question I have for them is, does it sound like real people talking?

12 April 2023

   I try to be really accurate with my historical information, so it surprised me to find I had one important fact wrong. In writing about the Selective Service draft, in several chapters I had made the lottery the way that men were drafted in 1965-1966. Actually, the lottery didn’t come into effect until 1969, as an effort to get rid of some of the inequities inherent in individual local draft boards making their own rules about who got called. I had to go back through those several chapters, and correct them.


13 April 2023

   As I was reading through earlier chapters, I found that I wasn’t consistent in what Chuck called his wife – sometimes Alice, sometimes Allie. I like “Allie” better in Chuck’s dialogue, so whenever he is talking, I have changed “Alice” to “Allie.” Also, “Mike,” the mail carrier calls her “Allie,” so I’ve used Allie in any purely personal references, and Alice the rest of the time.


16 April 2023

   I am a sentimental sap. Last evening, I watched “My Fair Lady,” uncut with no commercials. I hadn’t watched the whole thing in years. It’s still great. What got me is that I “know” how badly Vic wants to see that movie, and I found myself teary-eyed a couple of times, wishing she could be seeing it with me! My Imaginary Friends sometimes become pretty real.

20 April 2023

   I was reading through some of the older chapters of “Vic and Greg,” and noticed that I had talked about “speaking in tongues” in two chapters before I had Greg explain the subject to Vic in a later chapter! I must have written the chapters out of order, and not caught the problem in previous edits. It was pretty easy to correct – by deleting a couple of sentences.

   The moral: it’s okay to write something when I’m inspired, but be sure it “fits” when I plug it into the chapter sequence, later.

11 May 2023

   After reading one of Vic’s and Greg’s deeper discussions, my friend in New Mexico wrote: Greg                                                                                                    and Vic have an incredible relationship. I'm glad they can tell each other anything and it not become something stupid.”

   They’re human (well, sort of!), so they’ve had their misunderstandings and closed doors on certain discussions. In general, though, she’s right. Is their relationship believable? I hope so, because I’ve always seen them that way. Vic often precipitates the discussions, but Greg always bravely follows her into them.

   I have to admit, I don’t know any real life couples like them. In nearly 65 years together, Sally and I talked about a lot of things, but seldom to the depth that Greg and Vic go. There were also lots of topics we didn’t – and probably couldn’t – discuss. I hope there are other Gregs and Vics out there who do better than we did.


22 May 2023

   As I was eating breakfast this morning, my thoughts went all the way back to the horned owl incident in Chapter 10. In retrospect, it seemed to me that I had made Vic appear less sensitive to Greg’s feelings than she otherwise has always been. When I went to the chapter and read it, I saw what I had been thinking. I made some changes.

   I don’t think I made Vic any more sensitive – she’s still a brat! – but I think I made the passage a lot more fun.

15 June 2023

   I've been getting help "planning" Vic's and Greg's marriage from Sara, my wedding dress designer and wedding planner daughter. I'm learning lots of new terminology about types of wedding gowns, different fabrics and colors, etc., as well as getting instruction on how to decide on flowers and decorations for the hall. It's interesting, and fun - particularly since we're creating a 1966 wedding, when styles were much different than today.

   I found out something else, not directly related to the wedding, but about fashion. Last fall (1965), I had Greg and Vic, and later Greg and Jeannie the jeweler, discussing earrings for pierced ears, as if they were a traditional thing. It turns out that they were pretty rare until 1965, when they became a real "fad." Obviously, they did grow to be standard fare, but in 1965 there wasn't a huge selection available. I need to do a little rewriting. 


27 June 2023

   Sometimes, I find it hard to please both my fictional characters and my real-life readers. (I think there are two of them, now.) Writing the details of Vic's and Greg's wedding planning is turning into one of those cases.

   In the past, I've complained about authors who introduce all sorts of extraneous information that really has little to do with the story. Details of getting ready for a wedding - and having the wedding - could turn into that kind of thing. On the other hand, their wedding is important enough to the whole story that it deserves more coverage than "they had a wedding, and went on a honeymoon." (Actually, in their case, they went on a honeymoon, and then had a wedding.)

   With daughter Sara's help, I think I'm getting down to a fairly tight narrative that describes, but doesn't over-describe, what is happening at the bridal shop, for instance. Sara has shown me that Alice, an accomplished seamstress, doesn't need me to write a long description of Chantilly lace. She knows from experience what it is. Similarly, now that it's been described in detail to me, I don't need to write it all out. That leaves my readers. Is it enough for them if I just say that the dress is made of Chantilly lace, or do they need to know more?

   Probably everyone who's ever read a book has been confronted by a foreign word or phrase, a term unfamiliar outside of a specific profession, or                                                                              just a "Big Word," presented without definition or explanation. I don't want to do that to my readers. The choices seem to be to leave the term/situation out altogether, if it doesn't enhance the story; find some descriptive words that people know instead of using the unfamiliar term; or use the term, but describe what it means. I'm doing a little bit of all three as I go through the writing process.

23 July 2023

   I found a factual error that I needed to correct. When Vic was complaining that she couldn't have a glass of wine with her pizza, Greg implied that Idaho was one of the few states where that was a problem. He was wrong. Actually, in the 1960s, the legal age to buy or consume alcoholic beverages was 21 throughout the United States. I had to do a little rewriting, but it was an easy fix.


25 July 2023

   I've been wrestling for three or four days with one idea for the latest chapter of "V & G." They are discussing Greg's early backpacking adventures, and Vic suggests that they go back together to one of his favorite places. Greg would love to go backpacking with Vic, but not there. He has some compelling reasons, that have a lot to do with what they do with their careers in the future, and also I think give some insights into how their relationship is developing.

   Alas, no matter how many times I tried to write it, it came out sounding like a speech or a sermon. I finally gave up, and finished the chapter in a different way.

   It's frustrating, because I think it's a very good idea. I just couldn't make it work. Maybe I'll find another place for it, later.

10 August 2023

   As I was working on a new chapter yesterday, I was getting the feeling that some of the events I've written about were not possible at the times I had written them. I couldn't come up with any specific concerns, but it just seemed like some of my chronology was not right. It kept me awake awhile last night, so this morning, I drew up a detailed chart of Greg's twenty years of life - his age at various times, where he was in school at different dates, when and where family vacations occurred, and what his brother and sister were doing at the same times. When I completed the chart, I saw that indeed there were a couple of events that couldn't have occurred when I had written them as occurring. It took quite a bit of rewriting to get everything possible, but luckily it only involved two chapters.

4 September 2023

   While the main story of "Vic and Greg" is pure fiction, I've tried to make the setting and background as historically accurate as possible. This is a lot easier than it would have been in the days before the Internet and the ""World Wide Web." Now, I can ask my computer almost any question imaginable and, after the little search engine chugs along for a while - often, only a few seconds -  I have an answer. Actually, I may just have a clue to an answer, and I have that only after I wade through several dozen paid advertisements that it spits out that have nothing more to do with my quest than a shared keyword (e.g., ask a question about the history of earrings, and Amazon and eBay will present you with an array of beautiful earrings you can buy from them). Nevertheless, it may be more fruitful than spending several hours in your local library.

   Probably the greatest internet resource for my kind of research is the ever-expanding library of searchable newspapers online. For instance, if I am writing a story about south central Idaho in June 1966 (which I am), there are several local newspapers available that, in just a few moments of my time, can tell me the weather and temperature on any June day; when the sun rose and set; whether the night was moonless or moonlit; what was on television, and playing at the local theater; what was the big news of the day, both locally and nationally; what hunting seasons were open, and how well or badly the hunters were doing; what food cost in the supermarket; etc., etc., etc. Talk about accurate history!

   There are two historical subjects I've found hard to research. One is that there doesn't seem to be any good way to find out what the business part of towns looked like in earlier years - food, lodging, merchandise stores, etc. In a newspaper, you might find advertisements for Joe's Diner, the Happy Night Motel, or Brown's Clothing Store, but that doesn't tell you what other similar businesses were there. There are some city directories online, but mostly they are for the bigger cities. There isn't any 1966 version of Yelp or Tripadvisor.

   The other information I haven't been able to find is about air service; e. g., what airlines served Fargo, North Dakota, in 1966, or what was the best way to fly from Fargo to Boise, Idaho? I was lucky to find, online, someone's private collection of old airline schedules, that included a route schedule from the mid-60s for the local airline that served southern Idaho. Unfortunately, my luck hasn't extended to connecting airlines.


15 September 2023

   Occasionally, I find that I know too much about the future (like, now) when I'm writing about the past (like, 1966). Take movies, for example. I know that, two or three times at least, I've wanted Vic and Greg to go to the movies but, when I looked in the 1966 newspapers, I said to myself that they wouldn't want to see any of the ones playing. 

  But then, I catch myself. They probably wouldn't want to see them today - I mean, "Old Yeller" or Elvis in "Paradise, Hawaiian Style" aren't exactly classics. But we're talking about 1966, remember. I was around then, and just a little older than Greg and Vic, and we very happily went to a lot of those kinds of movies. I mean, we're talking "Big Screen;" Technicolor; a night out of the house with a wife, a date, or just a bunch of friends; and certainly far better fare than anything on television. Why wouldn't we go? Why wouldn't Vic and Greg go?

29 September 2023

   A little oddity, and a reminder to check your work over and over again, and not just superficially. While working on a new chapter, I discovered that I had used the family name Bowen for two different people. As I was going through the manuscript, seeing how many places I needed to correct, I found that I had used it for a third person! None of them are related in any way.

   The name Bowen doesn't mean anything to me. I think I originally just picked it out of a story in an Idaho newspaper. Why I "liked" it enough to use it three times is a mystery. It took a while for me to find all the times that I'd used  the name but, once done, it was easily corrected. Jake Bowen retained his name, Nancy Bowen became Nancy Williams, and Matt Bowen became Matt Taylor.


18 October 2023

   This is a situation I've written about, previously. It arises because I get ideas for scenes in the book, and I write them down when I think them. It may be weeks, or months, before I actually write the chapter in which a scene will appear. Sometimes, a particular pre-written scene has to be greatly modified - or even scrapped! - because I just can't make it fit.

   The issue today was timing. I have characters coming home in the dark, after attending an afternoon wedding. Can I really make that happen?  Clearly, I can't make the wedding festivities last beyond, say, 3 o'clock. The couple needs to get out of their wedding clothes, help a little with clean-up, do a little visiting, and eat dinner at a restaurant. Their drive home from the restaurant is almost an hour - certainly 45 minutes. That seems like a lot, but could it actually be dark when they get there?

   In my favor is that Idaho was not on Daylight Saving Time in 1966, so it gets darker sooner than you might expect. On the other hand, the wedding is in late-July - not the longest days of the year, but still pretty long at that northern latitude. I really like the scene as I originally wrote it. Will it work?

   To find out, I mapped out the afternoon and evening in half-hour by half-hour detail. I plugged in each event in the order they would occur, and allotted approximate amounts of time they would take. With a little bit of tweaking, and without roaming too far from "probability" into "possibility," the couple is getting home in the dark. Hurrah!


24 October 2023

   Do all my characters sound alike? What I really mean is, on paper, do my characters read alike. If I didn't write "John said" with a statement, would you be sure it was "John," and not "Bill," talking? 

   Every character in my novel is actually me - woman, man, child, teen, 25-year old, 90-year old, married, single, "straight," "gay" - they're all me. I picture them in my head. I see what they say. I hear them saying it. They're all different, all unique, in my mind. The question/problem is: how do my thoughts translate to what you see on paper?

   Just about the time my novel takes place, I attended a five-week training course in Minnesota. It was my first time in that part of the United States, and I thoroughly enjoyed the cafeteria server asking me if I would like some "poe-tay-toes." It was very unique (to me, not to other Minnesotans!), but it was the same word as "potatoes" in Idaho. The difference was in how it was heard, not in how it was written.

   Similarly, Henry Higgins in "My Fair Lady" claimed the ability to identify a person's place of birth after hearing the person say only a few words. He could do it if the person came from London or Bombay. He could identify not only the country and city, he could name the street corner where the person lived! Not a gift many of us could aspire to, yet it still depended on what he heard. If he wrote down the words he heard someplace in England, he'd write the same words for almost anywhere else in England. His abilities were based on the spoken word, not the written word.

   My problem (if I actually have one) is that, in southern Idaho in the mid-1960s, almost everybody used the same words. A few of the people who wander through my novel may not have at least an high school education, but all the main characters do. Some have been to college, and could use some bigger words if they wanted to, but most don't see the need. Some men may "use the vernacular" on occasion (cuss - some women, too, but mostly in private) - I think Chuck says "God damn it" once, in extreme frustration - but it wouldn't be a characteristic of any of them. Some have little quirks of speech - Vic has a little school girl giggle, but it's only for Greg, because she knows he likes it, so it only appears when they are alone. Readers can like it or not like it (I like it!), but it doesn't help them differentiate her from anybody else. In other words, none of my characters are likely to be uniquely identifiable except in context, or unless I say "Alice said."

   I don't know if this is bad. It's just something I thought of.

17 February 2024

   I was surprised to find that that I haven't made any journal entries since October. I can explain part of it to myself by remembering that much of this time has been spent on the mechanics of making a novel - and finally a completed book - out of a series of chapters. There has been lots of proof reading, lots of formatting, lots of going back over and over again to make sure that I haven't left important stories unresolved, and that I haven't said things that contradicted other  things I wrote. (The last can be a problem when you've written various sections over a long period of time, and don't remember exactly what you said, earlier.)

   The other reason I haven't made any journal entries isn't clear to me, because I've been really hard at work writing the epilogue to "Vic and Greg" - what happened in the 50+ years after the novel ends. It has been very important to me that this be more than just a "they lived happily ever after" finish. I've invested a lot of my life over the past two years watching my characters develop. I wanted to know what happens to them, and I hope other readers do, too.

   I think part of my need to know "what happens next" is a result of my frustration with two series of books that I really enjoyed -  stories that made me like the characters immensely, and made me want to know what happened after the books ended. The author - after four books in one series, and three in the other - left both stories unresolved, with the people I'd learned to really appreciate just lost out in the limbo of Unfinished Story Land. Maybe the author had intended to finish one, or both, tales, but she's as old as I am, and it's been several years since she published anything. I think they'll stay lost. I want some kind of ending for Vic and Greg, and I was determined that they would have one.


19 February 2024

   Well, I have finally completed "Vic and Greg." I had no idea how much I've written! It was too long for one volume, so I split it into two books. I've corrected miscellaneous typos and format problems, and have done a little rewriting of a couple of chapters. I've added illustrations, and also an 80-page "epilogue," telling what happened in the 50 years since 1966. It is complete!

   Whenever an author pens a family saga, or a detailed individual love story, readers logically remember the famous advice to beginners: write what you know. When – as is the case with this book  – you couple that expectation with the fact that the story is all wrapped up in birds, wildlife refuges, and environmental issues – the very same subjects I spent my working life pursuing – it is almost inevitable that more than one reader will ask, “Is this your family? Is this your love story?"

    To both questions, I can honestly answer, no. I admit to sharing with Greg some of my experiences from living and working on wildlife refuges. Each refuge, and each job, is a little different, but the basics are pretty much the same. I also shared with Greg some of my (highly modified) early life, just because it helped create a possible back story for a young man growing up in California in the 1940s and 1950s. What I think are most important to the story - his worries about Viet Nam and the military draft, and his life and his relationship, with Vic - are entirely and uniquely his own.

   I've never known anyone like Vic. I admitted back at the beginning of this journal to being a little bit in love with her, and I think maybe I'm a little bit jealous of Greg. Vic is my fantasy mix of smartness, sensuality, and fun, but for me it would just be a fantasy. She needed someone who could match her in intellect, sexiness, and fun. She needed Greg. Their secret was that romance wasn't just a prelude, or a technique, with them. They really liked each other's minds. They really enjoyed each other's bodies. They maintained the appreciation of both throughout their lives together. They lived their romance.

   How do I feel, now that the book is completed? I'm happy, because I think I did what I wanted to do with the story. I think it's a nice blend of wildlife work, sexy romance, and social commentary.

   I'm also a little sad, and a little empty-feeling. I've lived with those people pretty constantly for the past two years. As I said in my dedication of the book, they've become more real to me that some of the real people I know. I kind of hate to let them go!




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