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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Into the valley of char

Herman said, "But isn't writing a lonely craft?"

I said, "No, not really."

He said, "But you sit alone in your room, staring at a blank computer screen."

It was late May. We were hiking in the Cascade Mountains. 

Herman is a heartier fellow than I. He has the boots for it and a wide-brimmed hat. He needs no compass and carries his enormous backpack lightly. That backpack is well provisioned: a pup tent, a first aid packet, a sleeping bag capable of withstanding a freezing temperature, dried fruit, granola, matches, a single change of clothes, a topographical map.

I said, "When I write I am surrounded by my cast of characters. Better than that, I sit with a good friend right beside me."

"Your wife?"

"Oh, no. A friend."

"But I am your best friend. I sat beside you once, and only once, for a quarter hour. Walt! I was bored to tears."

"My best friend, Herman, is my reader."


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