Sunday, July 13, 2014

Take a Hike (Stephanie Kuehnert)

For me, the thing about writing that can be both wonderful and horrible is how wrapped up I get in it. It's great when I'm having one of those moments where everything about the story has clicked and I'm so immersed in it that I hardly notice that I've spend ten or twelve hours in front of my computer screen. It's been awful these past few years when I let my struggle to write and especially to sell another book affect my self-worth. It was also kinda scary when I realized that the writer part of me had taken over so completely that actual human me was slipping away. I wrote about this in depth for Rookie, but basically what I mean is that the music I listened to, movies and TV I watched were all consumed for the sake of finding the story--I couldn't even go on vacation without doing story research or seeing the place through a character's eyes.

I needed to start doing things that turned off the writer part of my brain and let me exist right there in the moment. I discovered the perfect thing I moved to Seattle a year ago: hiking. The quiet and the vast beauty of nature--nothing has soothed me like this. It makes me feel insignificant in a good way (again, as I wrote about for Rookie, sorry for all the links, I've been doing some major self-exploration in that mag). Bald eagles, three-hundred year old trees, they don't give a shit who I am or what I've written, but they also don't give a shit about Stephenie Meyer, Beyonce or even President Obama either. None of that really matters here:

My husband and I have gotten into the habit of hiking every Sunday, which has been a great way for me to reset myself for the new week. I forget about whatever is stressing or nagging at me and just breathe the fresh air. Sometimes we have errands to run, so we stick close to home and go to one of Seattle's amazing parks. My favorites are Seward Park, which is just a short drive from our house. It sits on Lake Washington and on clear days, you get views of Mount Rainier like this:

My other favorite Seattle park is Discovery Park, where you can hike through the woods (and pick berries!) down to a beach along Puget Sound with a cool old lighthouse:

When we have more time, we go further out into the mountains and forests outside of the city. On Fourth of July, we went to a county park about 45 minutes away and picnicked on the top of a bluff with this breathtaking view:

I photograph all of our hikes and upload the pictures to the Tumblr I've devoted to originally to moving and now to living in Seattle, Seattle-Bound Writer Girl. It doesn't have a lot of followers or get many notes or reblogs, but I don't care. It's my one blogging/social media space that is completely selfishly for me. Though of course, I am happy to share it with anyone who enjoys cool nature pictures like this:

It looks like a lady in a hat, doesn't it? Or what does it look like to you?

Being out in the woods does get my imagination going in that way. And though I use it for recharging not necessarily inspiration, a story idea did start battering at my brain a few Sundays ago when we hiked a park in the suburbs with a hidden lake:

You can see more of my pictures from that day on my tumblr and maybe you'll understand why it's a YA novel waiting to happen.

But for now I'm just going to enjoy my time in the woods, which I've come to love so much I got a tattoo (another hobby of mine...) to express it last weekend:


  1. I love these pics, Stephanie. You're so right how we sometimes have to give our writer brains a break. (just followed you on Tumbr...)

  2. The Northwest has so many good hikes! I highly recommend the Oregon coast, Mount Rainier NP, Mount Hood, the Columbia Gorge, and on and on ...

    1. YES! I have been to the Oregon Coast (and want to go back) but none of the others yet. They are allllll on my list. Can't wait!

  3. Nice tattoo, and I like the pictures too! Hiking is a great way to relax. I wish I could go hiking, but there aren't a lot of options for that in Chicago. I tried walking by the lake, but that was less peaceful and more "I'm going to get into a fight with the next bicyclist who yells at me."

    1. Thanks! I love the tat sooo much :) And I hear you. I did not find the outdoors relaxing when we lived in Chicago at all. It's been one of the big perks of moving out here. Hopefully you can take a nature vacation at some point!

  4. New Tumblr follower here, too. LOVE those Sunday hikes...

  5. So lovely! Have hiked in Oregon but not Washington. And the tat!!