Two years ago today I wrote the first tweet that sparked the #amwriting community into life on Twitter. Today, the energy within this group continues to blow me away. To celebrate the hashtag’s birthday, more than 25 bloggers have signed on to post photos, essays, short stories, poetry—gifts for the community from the authors who participate there. The idea of a blog party only came to me a few days ago. I posted the idea—with very short notice—and writers jumped in with enthusiasm. (I say we have more than 25 writers because every time I attempt to get the number right, more writers join in.) Today, as part of this blog party, I want to share with you one of the many reasons this community is vital to me as a writer in The Gem State.
Idaho is big. There are not a lot of writers near my home.
If you live outside The West, you might not realize just how big Idaho is. Heck, a lot of people who live here can’t quite grasp it.
Southeastern Idaho is full of farmland and small towns. The rivers chisel right through volcanic basalt and the waterfalls will take your breath away in the springtime.
The Sun Valley area boasts movie stars and resorts, but drive a few miles farther and you’ll find campgrounds filled with trailers and tents. The lure of The Sawtooths crosses boundaries.
In Southwestern Idaho, we have mountain scenery to take your breath away. We also have deserts and sand dunes. We have sagebrush and evergreens, sometimes co-existing.
Central Idaho is farther north than many Southern Idahoans ever venture. When I was living in Lewiston, Idaho, we had a politician tell us he’d crawl all the way up Highway 55 to Lewiston to get our votes. Yeah, funny, since Highway 55 doesn’t go north of New Meadows–and Lewiston is another 2.5 hours north from there.
There is no interstate connecting our state from North to South (or South to North, depending on your Idaho orientation). But before you get cocky and think we’re backward yokels, I remind you that America’s deepest river gorge runs through the middle of our state:
And the prettiest drive you can imagine is the one between Lewiston, Idaho and Missoula, Montana. Highway 12 is the kind of beauty that makes me use swear words as adverbs: ____ beautiful.
And you want geothermal? We do claim part of Yellowstone–and we have these great old hot springs resorts. (That’s not even counting the amazing undeveloped springs.)
But wait. Don’t start thinking Lewiston is North Idaho. And don’t start feeling you’ve seen it all just because you’ve traveled Highway 12. It’ll take another 2.5 hours to drive up to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (where you’ll find Interstate 90 cutting up from Missoula, MT).
Now you think you can just cross over into Canada from there? Think again. You want to zip up to Sandpoint, Idaho? It will take another hour. Of course, you have to see both Coeur d’Alene Lake and Lake Pend Oreille while you’re there, so you’re going to need more time.
From Sandpoint? You’ll still have to drive about an hour north to get to the Canadian border.
To drive the direct path through Idaho, from South to North (or vice versa, depending on your Idaho orientation), it will take over 14 hours. That’s in the summertime, when roads are good. And on that route, you’ll miss that whole big, beautiful portion of the state near Yellowstone National Park. You’ll miss The Sawtooth Mountains. You’ll miss that gorgeous stretch of Highway 12. You’ll miss the wilderness, the rivers, the sand dunes, the boat trip up Hells Canyon. My heart breaks with all the things you’ll miss.
Idaho is my home. I love it here.
And yet I need the community of other writers.
So every morning, I get up before dawn and switch on my computer. By the time the Boise foothills glow with morning rays, I’ve chatted with authors all over the world. By the time the sun sets over the Owyhee Mountains, I’ve finished a good day’s work in the presence of some of the smartest people anywhere. And I’ve managed it all in the gorgeous solitude of my home state.
Thank you, #Amwriting. Happy birthday.
If you’d like to continue on the blog party, the next stop is the blog of John Ross Barnes. John is an integral part of the #amwriting community and I look for his tweets every day. His blog is: “Love This Life, Onward Through the Fog.”