bog assignment 7 : my head is a jumbled mess, filled with ideas, questions, and confusion. This is a great thing for a writer

This week, I sent two emails to my professor.  Unfortunately for him, it was a scattered mess.  Fortunately for me, I was able to answer my own questions by the end of my rambling.  This is a very common thing for me to do. To write out a series of questions and thoughts, make kind of a fool of myself, by actually sending the email, but I do walk away feeling better.  I am hoping the receiver of my email understands that this is just part of my writing process.

What I need to do is start a file for these crazy emails, and instead of sending them, use them for a reference for myself.  This would eliminate the need for a professor to come up with a reply to my scrambled eggs of a brain during my writing process.

I have included most of the emails below, because it actually does fall in line with the blog assignment we have had….. and it is a continuum of my thoughts for “the book”.  Oh, and I forgot to mention, I wrote the emails late in the night on my blackberry because my computer was being scanned.  My blackberry dbl types letters, and inserts periods whenever it feels like it.  I also did not do spell check.  Gosh, I read the emails now and am totally embarrassed at the number of spelling and grammar errors I sent to my Writing Professor.  Great job there Kristine.  For your ease I fixed the spelling errors, so as not to embarrass myself more with the entire world when I post this blog.

email #1

. I have two ideas that I am struggling with
Our discussion last week, and this week we are talking about having a solid narrative/story/historical content, in the background that relates to the main subject matter. I call it my time-line or story-line.
First idea, the time-line would be me and my own journey through life, and events that are serious and maybe funny. I would add them in as if the content I am writing reminds me of the event or somehow sparks that memory for me. I have tons and tons of stories…(don’t we all?!). Much of my fiction writing is based on nonfiction (truths) about me with embellished add-in’s. My dilemma is that my stories are not centered on my subject matter of homesteading. I weave them in, as I did in my proposal.
However, these stories are NOT centered on my subject matter of homesteading. Therefore, my second idea was to use Dick Proenekke’s story as my base. Yet, I am not ( will be) but am not THE expert on him. His story (alone in the wilderness) is very much the modern day Walden, and I know much more about Proenekke and his story than Walden (even though I would like to be the expert on both if I do this book, and I really want to do this book, I just need more time and a ton of research. The documentary has a narrator (Proenekke himself). Whereas, the book, One Man’s Wilderness and More of One man’s Wilderness, are written by a separate author who used Proenekke’s journals for his content. ‎I like this idea, but feel that my strength is in the story and narrative, and I feel as though using Proenekke as my base, may bore reader’s because I don’t have a funny story or story about him except for the journals, books, and video.
So, my third and final idea (I know, I said two, but I write this out because sometime the answers come to me as I write, hope you don’t mind, I do this in all of my writing classes, and probably drive you professors n‎utty)… 🙂
My third idea is to use both ideas (go figure). To use Proenekke as my base, and add in some of my stories for humor and to humanize me, the narrator and author. What do you think? Once I get my story-line solidified, I can write in my head.
Also, last question, if I am, or when I am using Proenekke’s story and am writing about them, how do I write the scenery if I can’t /haven’t seen it. That is, can one embellish what one thinks the scene to look like? For example, if Proenekke says in August it wa starting to get cold… can I take that, research weather around that time, and write what the scene would look like? I know in my personal stories I can write exactly or pretty darn close to reality, and in my creative nonfiction course we were allowed to embellish the scene to explain, but not embellish the story.
I just want to make sure I am not confusing creative nonfiction with serious nonfiction. What would be the difference anyway?
I have done some research on just this question, and there seems to be many different answers. I want to know the ethical aspect.

email #2

you are going to laugh. I think I am so confused by the genre labels, which is silly. I do however read a ton of fiction based on nonfiction and write that way as well. I really get confused when the book is listed as nonfiction and fiction. lol.. happens all the time on amazon. I actually just looked up more information on a fiction series I have been reading. Come to find out, it is listed as nonfiction on the authors website. I am wondering if amazon changed it to fiction/historical/international, to get more readers.
I did more research on creative nonfiction, nonfiction, and serious nonfiction, and back-tracked on some of our reading, and answered my own question.
my findings,
For serious nonfiction, all nonfiction in fact, there are no embellishments or stretches of the truth, or imagined. Good nonfiction is being creative enough to show the audience about the story/ and even just a subject matter in such a way that it feels like a fictitious novel. A great nonfiction writer will be able to trick a reader into thinking they are reading a literary novel or even watching a great documentary.
Serious nonfiction can be creative nonfiction. It would just be called, serious creative nonfiction. Truths and facts can be told in a humorous tone. . Being creative just means, instead of telling a story, to show the story to the audience. Here is a quote I found on creative nonfiction, “Writing in scenes represents the difference between sowing and telling. The lazy, uninspired writer will tell the reader about a subject, place, or personality, but the creative nonfiction writer will show that subject, place or personality, vividly, memorably-and in action. In scenes” (What is Creative Nonfiction by Lee Gutkind) .

Therefore, I can do what I previously mentioned, without embellishments. I can a journal entry from Proenekke’s pages that says, “august 5th, colder afternoons”, and I can narrate it by writing, instead,

Historically an august in Alaska is much cooler than in the lower 49. Proenekke writes quickly and curtly ‘”august 5th, colder afternoon”, as if his hands were already feeling the “dark-days” of winter.

I knew we cannot write untruths, it was the scenery that I was trying to nail down, when it is not my own personal scenery.
does that make sense?

More preperation for THE BOOK


The homestead revival


Last week, I listed the main sources I will use throughout the pages.  I also added a few notes with each source to help me organize my thoughts, which in turn is helping organize my book.  One of the main questions that I keep coming back to is; how am I going to narrate this book?  I mean, will I use one main story line, one main character?  Or/and, should I use multiple character sources, referencing them when relevant for a particular section? With those questions to ponder, I also need to remember Rabiner’s advice, “have a question with a curious human mind at its center” (Rabiner 192), How do I achieve

Per the Encarta English Dictionary, foreground means, “to put something in an important position and so draw attention to it” (EncartaDictionary).

Now, I have those questions, a piece of advice (which I personally think is the “key” to success when narrating a serious nonfiction), and then, more questions.

As this is a blog, I will blog my thoughts, which are a bit of a mess, but make perfect sense to me.

I am trying to come up with my ANGLE.  Which direction will I start from, go to, and end up at? I am leaning towards Dick Proenneke’s 1967 off grid adventure as my main story line character.  I feel that using some of my own adventure, comparing it with his, during specific significant points throughout.

The key will be, being able to weave his story into the pages, while still maintaining a focus on my own story, and relevant subject matter, in order to argue and explain my points with organization.  My fear is that I will lack that important flow.  The tone that turns the pages.  I fear that I have a great idea, but maybe I lack the skill.

Questions arising as I type:

Why is homesteading and off grid living becoming a thing of the present, and not staying in the future?

What exactly drives someone to live off grid and homestead?

Why is it that I am more than curious to try a homesteading lifestyle?

What makes me what to live off grid?

The new form of retirement, following Dick Proenneke’s 1967 retirement from the modern world, and into the past.  This now seems to be the future.

What did Dick Proenneke know that we did not know?

What is the main allure?

What inspired Proenneke to go off grid?


What made me decide that off grid homesteading is the lifestyle for me?

What makes it possible for me to homestead now?

What is the allure of homesteading?

Why Dick Proenneke and not someone else?

Dick Proenneke began his off grid lifestyle at the age of 50.  This is most likely the age I will be truly living off grid.  I am estimating that it will take me 1 to 5 years for my family to find and settle into our homestead.  This will put me in my mid forties.  Unlike Dick, I will not be fortunate enough to retire at that time.  However, I do foresee being able to telecommute for work, and therefore, work off grid.  This gives me an edge, being able to somewhat be at the same point in life, age-wise, that is.

Similar to Proenneke, I also have a desire to be the dominating player and role in what I eat, where I live, how I live, and without having to answer the why.  That is the goal, however the contradiction to the is that this book WILL be explaining the why, but not in the same sense.  I will be using what is driving me to live off grid, but part of the off grid allure is not having to answer to so many other forces outside of nature.

There are many other similarities; construction background, backpacking, the desire, the love of solitude, the comfort ability with myself and family, the isolation, the beauty; just to name a few.  Most importantly though, there are many differences.  From technology zilch then, and here now.  For example, solar panels and windmills, water generators, and many other amenities that we have now, were not around in the 1960’s; or if they were, they were not nearly as advanced and convenient.  Some may ask, Is this going against the homestead or off grid picture?  I answer, there is no exact model for this lifestyle.  That is the key.  Off grid and homesteading can look different from acre to acre.  The allure is the fact that we can choose.  We have the choice.  There are no HOA boards or meetings. There are no solicitors.  There are no neighbors-at least not close neighbors.  It is not to accrue what others have.   That is not the dream.  Maybe for one family it IS to accrue what others have, but to accrue it in their own way.  Maybe I want a matching sofa and love seat (which I have to admit, I have had only once as an adult.  The funds always seemed to go out the door, LITERALLY.  Most of our extra money has been spent to explore the mountains, Mexico, or our front and back yard, rather than decorating the house.  This is another good point I need to remember.  Gosh I wish I had a tape recorder, or hand held recorder that would read my mind, as sometimes my ideas that are great, awesome and THE IDEA, is forgotten before I can type it out.  I HATE THAT!!!  The narration will be about me, my findings to answer the questions above, specifically, what is it that is bringing the homestead and off grid lifestyle to a forefront?  Why have we decided to sacrifice modern amenities to physically work harder each day, and most likely longer?


Priorities have changed for those of us wanting to go off grid.  Obviously, if we are willing to give up having a hot shower whenever we want.  What has changed those priorities?  For some of us (I refer to us as, homestead and off grid hopefuls like myself), there is no real turning point.  But, for most of us, there is a specific turning point.  Something that quickly, or slowly took hold of our hearts and minds and remains there today.  I strive to find these pieces of information, and I hope to portray them accurately when I am writing about someone else.

My homework for this week is to reread Proenneke’s journals, and to re-watch his documentary.  I want to re-watch the documentary so that I can highlight some important aspects, and organize my own personal narrative.


resource list/ thoughts

  1. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau, “is a reflection upon simple living in natural surroundings”.

Published in, 1854, Walden is a first hand account of Thoreau’s experience living off grid.  This book is important because it gives my book a historical branch.

  1. Alone in the Wilderness, is a documentary of Dick Proenneke’s two year adventure living alone in the wilderness. Produced by Bob Swerer, this series I first saw on PBS, many years ago.  It was most likely the first actual reality/show/video of living off grid.  What is today’s, “tiny house nation, off-grid living, mountain living, and many other popular reality shows, was yesterdays, Alone in the Wilderness.  This is a base for the “past” or historical aspect of my book.
  2. Personal journals of Dick Proenneke are written in a book, One Man’s Wilderness, An Alaskan Odyssey, by a good friend of Dick’s, Sam Keith. These journals are very important and play as reminders on what needs to be included from my own experiences.  Historical reference.
  3. This web site is the base of my research for the “future” aspect.
  4. is a website that promotes, and explains a form of off grid, sustainable living, that I would like to model in my own life. The web site has a world of information, including links to other sites that are also in relation to my personal goal.  It combines modern technology with eco-friendly living, which is what makes it possible for more people to go off grid.  “future” section of book.
  5. Future aspect of book.
  6. Past aspect