Susan Tweit’s new book “Walking Nature Home”: It Takes a Village to Create a Book–and to Sustain Life
Susan Tweit's newest book "Walking Nature Home" invites us as readers to lope along the field of a life shaped by challenge and close looking at nature. Her book contains good guidance lessening the need to control and learning to let go more. Her insights into ways to view chronic illness, talk about it, and be in life with it are useful and practical. Susan is one of the kindest and most generous people I know. She's learned how to balance living with a chronic illness and her ability to be out in the world as a writer and speaker.--JGR
It Takes a Village to Create a Book--and to Sustain Life
About Walking Nature Home
I'm visiting Riehlife as I travel the blogosphere talking about my new memoir, Walking Nature Home: A Life's Journey, just published by University of Texas Press.
Walking Nature Home is a love story on several levels: love of the natural world, love of my husband and family, and love of life itself. It's a testament to the resilience and inventiveness of the human spirit and the healing power of learning to live in a generous and open-hearted way, which literally transformed and saved my life.
The story opens in a doctor's office. I was in my early twenties. The doctor's words shattered my ordinary, familiar life, setting me off on a journey into territory I had never expected to explore:
“You’ve got two years, or perhaps five,” said the doctor, leaning over her metal desk, “I’m sorry.”
It ends quietly:
Through a gap in the clouds, I spot Sirius, the dog star, twinkling brightly next to the sparkling river of the Milky Way, and just at the edge of the pane, Orion, striding across the heavens. Then the clouds shift, I take off my glasses, and my view dissolves into dreams.
In between is a journey that explores the nature of health, what love is and how to practice it, the value of finding one's voice--and heeding it, of silence and spirituality, and the simple joy of taking an active part in life on this irreplaceable Earth, as part of the community of the land.
I worked on figuring out how to write this story for more than two decades, so you can image how excited I am that it's finally in print. I'm the author, but it's not just my book. Like all powerful and difficult stories, this one took a village to bring into being.
Each chapter of the memoir is named for a constellation, and that star-grouping relates to both the theme of the chapter, and to one particular person who played a role in my life and who is prominent in that chapter: my mom, my husband, my step-daughter (my brother and my nieces figure in that chapter too), my dad, and my father-in-law. They form my immediate village.
Village of Influences
Then there's the farther-flung village of people who have shaped my life and work over the decades: teachers from my years in school, colleagues in science and writing, friends from the many places I've lived, doctors and nurses and massage therapists and other practitioners of the healing arts who have laid their hands on me in beneficial ways, colleagues of heart and spirit whose lives have touched mine even if we have never met in person. All of those relationships had a part in the direction my life took, and the shape of the story I finally told.
Village of Folks Who Brought the Book into Print
And of course there's the village who helped bring the story to print, including the agent who believed in the story even though I hadn't figured out how to tell it, and the agent who gave me the priceless gift of getting the story immediately once I had figured it out. It was the invitation of Theresa May, editor-in-chief of University of Texas Press, who told me at a conference that she would consider publishing "anything you write," that brought me into the wonderful community of people at the Press who not only turned a manuscript into a beautiful book, but are promoting it energetically and effectively, giving me the support authors dream of. And of course, illustrator Sherrie York, whose watercolors bring alive the constellations.
Expanded Sense of Village
All of these virtual "villages," interlinked communities of people helped me create this book, as did the community of nature, the home of my spirit. We all depend on such varied villages as we navigate our lives: communities of family, friends, colleagues; religious communities, cultural communities, communities of the arts, communities of travelers, hiking communities....
What is Community?
The word community has its roots in "common," in the sense of something shared. Life itself is built on bonds: the bonds between atoms that form the molecules that make up what we call "us." So common and community are what life on Earth is about. May the blessings of community and Earth's many villages inform and inspire your life!
Thanks to Janet, for inviting me to stop by.
Follow Susan's tour on her blog Walking Nature Home. Full schedule posted there. follow my tour, the full schedule is on my blog.
Before Riehlife, her previous stop was the Women Writing the West blog, where she talked about book promotion in a post called "My Book's Just Been Published. Now What?" Next she's headed for Deb Robson's "Independent Stitch" blog, on fiber arts, life, and publishing. Come along and join in the discussion!
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