In 2004, I signed up for a Highlights Foundation Workshop on writing nonfiction and I grumbled silently for weeks before I set out for Honesdale, PA. The workshop leader, editor Carolyn Yoder, had asked each of us to bring a nonfiction piece about something “in our own backyard.”
Up until then I had written about Greece and Rome and Korea and Wyoming. I had written about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. What in the world was there to write about in my Indiana backyard? Except….
I did live two blocks away from the National Road and there just might be something interesting in our local Welcome Center and I couldn’t believe I found two amazing National Road books there that I tore through and I just might have time to visit the National Road/Zane Grey Museum which was just down the road in Ohio and what a pile of stuff I came home from there with and there was just a little TOO much happening out there in my backyard and how was I ever going to decide which story to tell?
The grumbling and the workshop and the discoveries resulted in an article for Cricket Magazine (“A President’s Bumpy Ride”) and a book picture book for Calkins Creek (Just Fine the Way They Are). I’ve spent a lot of time gazing out my window since then.