I wrote myself into a conundrum.
It was a good conundrum to have, but one I had to fix quickly. As many of you know, I rotate my blog post topics for writers, artists, and readers of my books. January's was slated to be for writers. In 2018, my writing posts were some of my favorites, documenting things like how to write next-level heroines and how to equip your characters for a trek through the wilderness.
But try as I might, as 2019 got underway, I couldn't get excited about a post for writers. My mind, instead, was focused on the ongoing government shutdown. I was watching my friends in the National Park Service apply for unemployment and hastily hunt for part-time work. I was watching rangers who have spent decades in service to the NPS network for food pantries. One mentor of mine, who hired me for my first internship, was furloughed just days before her retirement date.
I did what I could. I angrily called my senators. I sent angry cookies to my friends on furlough. I put angry words on one of my nature-nerd manuscripts. I did angry yoga. I vented to my also-angry mom. But there reached a point where it seemed like none of it was doing anything, for me or anybody else. So I turned, finally, to my monthly blog.
I had a good post written--"Five Low/No-Cost Ways You Can Help National Parks Survive the Shutdown." I interviewed my affected friends and combed articles from the National Park Foundation and National Parks Conservation Association. I looped another author in for a book giveaway. I curated a sweet national parks reading list. I made a flashy graphic.
Then, on Friday, the government re-opened. Federal employees and contractors went back to work. The engine sputtered to life again. I was happier that day than I'd been all of 2019.
But some of my other friends were more wary. They knew the deal the government agreed upon was only supposed to last three weeks. If Congress and the president can't come to an agreement, things could very well shut back down on February 15.
So I'm shelving the post I wrote... for now. The points in it are valid even when not under a shutdown, but I'm going to save it until after February 15. Hopefully, I won't have to share it at all, and we can go back to our regularly scheduled programming of art blogs and writing tips. But if things go under again, expect to see it posted shortly afterward, fancy graphic and book giveaway and all.
Because I didn't have another post written for January, I'm sharing A Park Ranger Vignette, a short story I wrote for HarperCollins a few years ago. It features a Yellowstone ranger struggling through a rough morning in the park, and the people and phenomena that remind her just why she chose to be a ranger in the first place.
As an added bonus, I've included the national park reading list I curated from my original post. It features some of my favorite books written by park rangers and set in national parks. I hope it gives you some great additions to your TBR pile!
Thanks for sharing this time with me---check out A Park Ranger Vignette after the jump!
Emily B. Martin
Author and Illustrator