Rebecca Lawton is an author and naturalist whose essays, poems, and stories have been published in Orion, Sierra, The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine, Shenandoah, Standing Wave, THEMA, the acorn, More, and other magazines. She has received the Ellen Meloy Fund Award for Desert Writers, three Pushcart Prize nominations (in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry), and residencies at The Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and Hedgebrook Retreat for Women Writers in Langley, Washington.
Becca was among the first women whitewater guides on the Colorado River in Grand Canyon and on other rivers in the West. Her essay collection on the guiding life, Reading Water: Lessons from the River (Capital Books), was a San Francisco Chronicle bestseller and ForeWord Nature Book of the Year finalist. Her novel, Junction, Utah, set in the beautiful and resource-rich Green River valley, is represented by Sally van Haitsma of van Haitsma Literary and is available as an original e-book.
What inspires you to write?
The beauty and importance of wild rivers and wilderness. Especially in these times when our disconnection from the land helps to create a national crisis of disenfranchisement from compassion and empathy, as well as puts our planet in peril, writing story that connects us to place and community is one of the highest acts I believe we can aspire to.
Tell us about your writing process.
My favorite writing process is what I learned from reading about Edward Abbey’s process: handwriting on yellow legal pads, double spacing so editing by hand can follow, reading from this handwritten copy into the computer (this is of course a deviation from Abbey’s typing from his legal pads, but I have tendonitis in my arms), and then subjecting the resulting copy the plenty of editing and reading out loud to “hear” it. I write in the morning, often before I have to tend to other jobs and duties, so writing is Job One.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I like my characters to talk to each other, and I listen to how that sounds. I dream the actions of my characters more often than not, and I like to be guided by the visions that come in my dreams. Sometimes I will dream a scene before I write it, and when I’m working most deeply, scene dreams occur for me every night.
What advice would you give other writers?
I like Natalie Goldberg’s advice to writers to write for years before seeking publication. Learn your own voice before subjecting it to the judgment of others.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’ve been guided in the publication process by my agents: Michael Larsen and Elizabeth Pomada in nonfiction and my current agent, Sally van Haitsma, who suggested we publish my debut novel as an original e-book in her lineup of offerings. New authors: try for the publisher who brought out your favorite latest read!
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
No idea. I do know what I like: tree-free print books.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print