The writing bug: What does that really mean?

I have a done a lot in my life (and I hope to do a lot more) — birding, gardening, exercising, reading, doing science, playing the flute, teaching, editing — and WRITING!!! I love them all, but here’s why writing is so important to me:

First. I am a journalist — so my writing is nonfiction — and as such, I understand the deep commitment to making every single sentence accurate and connected to the one before and after it. Not easy! But when it happens, I get that thrill – perhaps a type of thrill received by taking illicit drugs — I don’t know, because I never have done so, but I imagine my thrill is better and not harmful to my health.

I can get lost in my writing by moving words around, changing words, deleting words until it reads — I hope — like poetry, and is able to generate some sort of truth, insight and inspiration to the reader, and me.

I am most myself and absorbed with something else beside myself when I am working on a writing project that really moves me. That’s how you should choose your life’s role!

One of these I’d like to share with you is a story about a rock garden to be built along Lake Michigan — sounds simple enough, yes? But while working on it, standing on the expansive shoreline and seeing all those rocks created millions of years ago, with stories to tell, well, it just made me feel more connected to the universe — and also helped me see why we are all part of this beautiful planet that we need to protect. I also admired the commitment to conservation that an elderly woman has made in her part of the world for so many years — and the wonder she sees in all that’s around her.

Perhaps one reader felt the same way I do.  Click here for the story.


Here’s my favorite introductory paragraph to a really cool quote:

The garden also will feature several 500- to 600-pound stones linked to the geological history of the lake, including basalt, which came from the Earth’s surface in the form of lava and then hardened billions of years ago; granite, which was carried by the glaciers several thousand years ago; and limestone, Illinois’ bedrock, which contains fossils of marine creatures that lived when the state was once a part of a giant sea some 400 million years ago.

“You go from the huge natural stone, then it gets grinded down over time until it becomes rocks and then sand,” Grill said. “How amazing is that?”

For 2015, I have several writing goals — which I’ll share later. I want to keep them quiet and to myself for right now.

Why do you write? Why do you draw? Why do you paint? Why do you create? Would love to hear your thoughts.

What’s it like to do Christmas Bird Counts for five decades, rarely missing one?

Read my story about Jeff Sanders who has participated on and started Christmas Bird Counts for the past 50 years.

How many bird counts do you do each year and where do you do them? And why? I’m headed to northern Minnesota to do the coldest Christmas Bird Count in the United States. Happy counting!

Rare species — should we save them?



It’s a complicated story — but in essence, the greater sage grouse may likely become extinct on the heels of Congress approving a budget through next September. Click here to read the story. It, of course, involves the oil industry.

Here’s my question: How do I explain to naysayers why we need to save endangered and rare species, wild lands, pieces of wilderness from so-called progress? Looking at the photo of a greater grouse above, what emotions does it invoke Some may look at it and say, it’s a bird — no big deal if we lose it.

But for me, it is a deep abiding feeling I have that humans need every piece of wild land and animal and plant sustained for our personal health and happiness, and also, as a selfless way of saving the earth for others to enjoy. I cannot offer statistics or examples to prove this feeling — but I do believe it exists in each and every one of us if we dig down deep and find out.  That’s what I think when I look at this photo. What are your thoughts on this? Would love to hear them.