lots of pretty flowers in early June
Bearwallow Mountain Trail is near Gerton, North Carolina. On Sunday, June 7, 2015 I went to hike the trail up to the top of the mountain with my wife Megan, dog Indy, and daughters ages six and nine. With temperatures in the 80’s where we live in Asheville, we were surprised to reach the mountain and find it 63 degrees on the dashboard temperature gauge. It was a cloudy day and the mountain was surrounded by a mist. The girls called it “magical” and it turned out to give the day its own unique feel. We plan to return on a clear day to check out the views.
the steps on the way to the top of the mountain
The hike is strenuous, about a mile in length, and it took us about 30 minutes to reach the top. Our youngest has recently proclaimed that she wants to be a professional runner, and so she’s been running a half mile in our neighborhood. So our kids are active and they made it up and down the mountain without much complaining.
noted by Mrs. T as a possible dwelling for fairies
We found out about the hike in an article published in the Asheville Citizen-Times by Mackensy Lunsford titles “5 Perfect Places to Picnic, and How to Create a Memorable Outdoor Meal.” Mackensy is @mackensy on Twitter and she was quick to credit @KarenChavezACT for the information in the article. I look forward to following both of these ladies for all things Asheville and the outdoors.
even though our views were obstructed by fog, the top of the mountain was beautiful
a short video from the top
Seven years ago I made the switch from high school English teacher and basketball coach to writer and professor. Since that time, I’ve been blessed to have been hired to teach First Year Writing courses at St. John’s University in New York. I write novels, scripts, publish a podcast, and have just sent out my first documentary film for consideration at several film festivals.
Cherokee McGhee Press has published two of my novels. The first, Love on the Big Screen, tells the story of a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-eighties romantic comedies. In writing that book, I drew upon my early dating experiences, my time riding the bench of a small-college basketball team, and my devotion to 80s films such as Say Anything and Sixteen Candles. My adaptation of that novel won the Grand Prize of the Rhode Island International Screenplay Competition.
a scene from the novel by artist Keegan Laycock
Horseshoe is my most recent novel and is set in a fictionalized version of my hometown, Winamac, Indiana. It’s a place where everyone knows everybody else’s business. Writer Bryan Fuhurness endorsed the novel by writing, “What Sherwood Anderson would have written if he had a sense of humor.”
I ask my students to write a hybrid research paper we call a Scholarly Personal Narrative. I think of Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man and Joan Didion’s Year of Magical Thinking as examples of this sort of text that combines a personal story with scholarly research. The students also create short documentary films, follow Tweets in their area of interest, and compose ePortfolios as their final writing project.
In order to consider my professional life, I use a metaphor gifted to me by a former professor: Writing Floats on a Sea of Conversation. Given that, I invite you to respond to anything you find here as the first lines of what could be a rewarding conversation. You can get in touch with me via Twitter @BillTorg or write me an email at William.Torgerson@gmail.com
I’ve been struck by how much of what my daughters do and say will be forgotten. I saw this documentary two nights ago called Stories We Tell. Director Sarah Polley interviews as many people as she can about her mother, and eventually Sarah finds out who her father is for sure and the story is partially about her interactions with that story. It’s also about how the stories we tell differ, about how we all have our own take on something that happened. I write this morning, as the sun rises on an early fall Connecticut Sunday morning, in part because Sarah had a lot of pictures and video footage of herself growing up. I hope to do better creating a small trail of words and pictures that tell the story of my kids.
As a father, I think, I will never forget that. And then I do. The film Stories We Tell reinforced something I already know. When a story is told about an event in the past, it gets remembered differently depending on who you ask to remember. I can’t even reliably remember what has happened to me. Part of what has put me in the chair to write this morning is that I want to do more writing about my daughters. I want to get myself into a rhythm of setting down some of what they do and say. I also want us (yes, I hope they will some day be interested,) to have a record of some of their life.
I haven’t even got to the second documentary I saw that set me in the writing chair this morning, but I’ve thought of a book that also contributed to the topic I want to undertake (my girls!) and the book is Jim Gaffigan’s Dad is Fat. The title comes from something one of Gaffigan’s five! kids wrote about him. Gaffigan is one of my favorite comics, especially the bit he does on bacon. His book is episodic, and it goes hard for the silly laugh. And he does get me to laugh, but what I want to do that he’s done, is to do more writing about being a father, a son, and a husband.
The final shove into the writing chair (and I do sit here a lot writing what I don’t want to write) was the film Woody Allen: A Documentary. I saw it on Amazon Prime, and I think you can watch it on Netflix. From the movie, it seems like Allen has been writing almost everyday since he was sixteen. I wrote almost everyday for ten years. Then there started to be publications. Schedules changed. There was more editing and promotion and travel and requests from work. And the regular morning writing has become less regular. Which is fine for some people, but I think I need be an almost everyday writer. Even if it’s just my old standby number of 800 words. I get that number from author of Write to Learn, Donald Murray. The number doesn’t matter. It’s the starting off writing that does.