Upside-down Writer

Gil Meyer lives and writes in the Potomac Highlands west of Washington, D.C. His mountain home provides ready access for his interests in photography, outdoor sports and history. He holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in plant pathology, both from West Virginia University.

Photo is the author kayaking on the Susquehanna River near the town of Port Deposit, Maryland, the primary setting for The Healer’s Dream. Photo courtesy of a friend.

About an Upside-down Writer

Many artists starve, to the point that it is a cliché. Being really hungry is not fun or cool, though. I have been hungry. I have wondered where my next meal would come from. I learned that having one dollar is worse than having no dollars. With one dollar I would anguish over what item of food to buy. It is hard to decide when you know this one choice is it–all you get. With no dollars, there are no choices, no anguish.

Being hungry was okay, at least for a while and while it was just me. I could still write, and I did. I wasn’t starving, really. I bought a case of year-old peanut butter and ate it on day-old bread. I later learned that out-of-date peanut butter can be very toxic. Oops. I worked lots of jobs from washing dishes on up, and I grew a garden. I managed, and I put myself through grad school without any debts.

But things changed once I got married and had kids. I still wrote, but I needed to provide. I got a real job. My first real job was working for an environmental consulting firm cleaning up abandoned hazardous waste sites. Then I meandered into a career. I did well. And I wrote. For vacations we rented little beach cottages. I spent most of the time inside writing while my wife taught the boys to hunt for shark teeth on the beach.

Our sons have fledged. My wife and I retired and moved to the mountains. We have enough.

Now, after excessive gestation, my decades of writing can emerge. I know I did it backwards—I think of it as upside-down. I was supposed to get to the publishing stage long ago. Oh well. By being upside-down, I had the right priorities on top.