Bushwhacking: How to Get Lost in the Woods and Write Your Way Out (Paperback)
When you stray from a trail and strike out into the woods, you are bushwhacking. The term implies a physical thrashing about--pushing past branches, slicing through thickets, leaping across downed trees--but it also implies a certain fortitude and resilience to seek places unknown. In Bushwhacking, Jennifer McGaha borrows the term, likening it to what writers do when faced with the equally daunting blank page. Exploring the wilderness of your inner life means leaving a relatively comfortable place and going where no path exists. Writers face similar, unknown obstacles when forging a route to a final draft. Part writing memoir, part nature memoir, and part meditation on a life well lived, Bushwhacking draws on McGaha's experiences running, hiking, biking, paddling, and getting lost across the Appalachian Mountains of western North Carolina to offer readers encouragement and practical suggestions to accompany them on their writing and life journeys. Each essay links one of McGaha's forays into the wilderness to an insight about the creative process. An almost-failed attempt at zip lining becomes a lesson on getting out of one's comfort zone. The thrum of a hummingbird's wings, an autumn sunset, and a hound dog's bay at a bear on the path are impromptu master classes in finding inspiration in the small, the ordinary, and the unexpected. With humility, humor, and hard-won wisdom, Bushwhacking honors writing craft traditions and offers fresh insights into how close communion with nature can transform your writing and your life.
Jennifer McGaha has taught creative nonfiction and memoir writing for more than twenty years, currently at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Flat Broke with Two Goats, and her work has appeared in the Huffington Post, the Bitter Southerner, Brevity, CHEAP POP, Lumina, PANK, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Passengers, HerStry, and elsewhere. A native of Appalachia, McGaha lives in western North Carolina with her husband, two cats, six unruly dogs, ten relatively tame dairy goats, and an ever-changing number of hens.