Thursday, March 05, 2009

Coming to an End

For several weeks now, a notion has been flitting around in my brain, one that made me a little sad and a little glad. This morning I awoke to find that the notion had become a solid conviction. After nearly three years of blogging, it is time for Tundra Medicine Dreams to end.

This blog has always been about life in Bethel, the Yupik Eskimo culture that enfolds it, and the practice of medicine in bush Alaska. It is not about Kenai and life on the road system, which is not so different from life in the rural Lower 48. Since I no longer live in Bethel, I find it difficult to continue writing blog posts in keeping with what Tundra Medicine Dreams has been about. And though Kenai is very much what people think of as classically beautiful Alaska, I am not inspired to write about it. Nor do I think that it is what TMD readers come here to read. Kenai is not the frontier of civilization that Bethel is.

I began writing this blog for two reasons: to create a portrait of a culture that is fascinating and very different from the one that most Americans and Western Europeans are familiar with; and to create within myself a discipline for writing. I believe that TMD has done that.

In three years I have written essays covering a wide range of topics on bush medicine and Yupik culture. These days, most visitors to the site arrive via searches on things I have written about: huffing, botulism, breast-feeding practices, Eskimo diet, dog mushing, kuspuks and many more. For that reason, the blog will remain open and available for people to learn what they can from it.

My occasional trips to Bethel and the villages may inspire a few more posts in the coming year; I certainly don’t rule it out. But my writing has taken a different direction, which is what I always ultimately intended. I am finally writing my novel.

For most of my life I have known that I had an ability to write in a way that people enjoyed reading; I simply never felt that I had a story to tell. Now I do. My life in Bethel has given me that story. It will be about a woman who is a physician assistant and a dog musher, who goes to live in a Yupik village to provide health care and to train an Iditarod-hopeful dog team. She will have many adventures, both medical and musherly, and she will learn much about the culture in which she lives and about herself. I am already many pages into it, and enjoying the process of creation thoroughly.

Perhaps when I think it is ready, I’ll post a preview here. I don’t have a literary agent, and don’t have a clue about how writers get one; I know publishers take a dim view of manuscripts sent to them without benefit of an agent. If Tundra Medicine Dreams can help me to open that door, it will have achieved far more than I ever dreamed.

To those few readers who have followed my progress here from early on, thank you. Your loyalty and support have meant the world to me as a fledgling writer. To those who took the time and care to comment, you have my deepest gratitude. As the author John D. MacDonald once wrote in a letter to my Dad, “writers drop feathers down wells and listen for an echo.” Comments on this blog have, for the most part, been positive and inspiring. And to those casual visitors who found this site through various search engines, welcome! I hope that the writing you find as a result of whatever search string you used peaks your interest to search through the archives and read more. A large volume of (I hope) interesting material awaits you there.

And so, for now, so long. May you each and every one go well.

Photos of Bethel by The Tundra PA:
1. My favorite trash dumpster
2. An old truck rusting into the earth in City Sub
3. Boats frozen into Brown Slough
4. Frozen Kuskokwim River just after sunrise in November
5. Sunset over tundra