Away at a Camp in Maine

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I self-published a small travel memoir, Away at a Camp in Maine, through Createspace.com, an arm of Amazon.

I wrote the book thirteen years ago; it had an agent in New York for six but she was unable to sell it. Wanting closure and my message to get out into the world, I decided, reluctantly, to self-publish.

For my own validation, I wanted to publish through regular channels and held out for a long time. Perhaps that can now happen on future books....

I share this because within the first few days of publishing, I determined is was SO right to have done it. For any reluctant writer, my advice is go for it!

I dedicated my little book to my Aunt and Uncle who owned a rustic camp on Crescent Lake in Raymond, Maine. I spent my childhood there and then they sold it when I was twenty.

I also dedicated the book to Sarah, the woman who bought the camp from my relatives and kindly rented it to us for ten years when my sons were young. Little did she know that this gesture would yield some of the fondest growing-up memories my children experienced.

My memoir shows what getting away in nature, with your family, especially when your children are young, can do to bring benefits to all aspects of your lives. Disconnecting from all you are day-to-day and connecting more deeply with your spouse, your children, nature...and most of all, yourself...can transform you, rejuvenate you, both motivate and calm you.

My Uncle died at the end of 2008; my aunt, just a few weeks before my book came out. They never read it.

However, Sarah's email when she received my book in the mail was enough to make it all worthwhile. She thanked me for writing it, for capturing the essence of it, for dedicating it to her...for being her friend.

Since then, the purchases and comments have far exceeded anything I could have hoped for.

I was invited to an island off Boothbay Harbor for an overnight to celebrate my book with a former colleague and my former hairdresser who moved away to Florida and I hadn't seen for years. We ate lobsters bought right from the docks that morning and drank Margueritas using cute little flip flop coasters I had bought her for her move to Florida. Their group of women friends have annual get-togethers...and they call themselves the "flip flops," partly due to my little gift. Wow. Who knew?

A neighbor of my Mom's sent me a card after reading. Their son owns a camp himself in Raymond so while visiting him, she and her husband set out to find the general store in my book, E. R. Clough. She said her husband was salivating for the penny candy! They had a long conversation with the owner of the store about the book, and in her card, she sent me photos of the store and a small brown bag they had put their penny candy in, just like the little bags I talk about in my story.

A colleague, after reading, said she set out to find Crescent Lake. She described looking for the Fire Route but couldn't recall the exact number. She searched for the yellow farmhouse in the chapter titled Running the Camp Roads. She felt so close but just couldn't quite pin it down...and then she came upon the public beach with its sign Crescent Lake. Success.

The book reminds people of their own cottages, camps or get-away experiences. It entices others to try it if they've not done so. Readers Google to find me and then warmly share in emails their own camp stories.

An older gentleman wrote to say he had bought my book for all his grandchildren, put copies on the nightstands in all his camp bedrooms, and that I "got it." Although not his lake or his Adirondack chairs, they could have been.

Childhood friends who moved south invited me to dinner when they returned for a visit, and we were right back to elementary school, middle school, snowmobiling, water skiing, and laughing, laughing, laughing.

The book has graciously connected me to loved ones from my past....and introduced me to new like-minded friends. The book has made people happy; the greatest reward.

Taking a leap of faith and a step forward - whether producing your art, changing careers, writing a book, or whatever matters to you - can be such a positive, right, thing to do.

I am proof positive of the good that can come from it.

Our art and connecting with others is the beauty of our humanity.