Desert Writing

I came across this article today: 

A hiker got lost in the desert for 6 days and survived on NO food and NO water. He stayed still…and wrote on his hat. This is the last paragraph of the article:

Rosenthal is known around Los Angeles for writing short, humorous poems and reading them aloud at public events. So he naturally had a pen with him, Kaplan said. But he had no paper, so he used the hat. It got crowded and he used a lot of abbreviations, but it was legible, and the pen never ran out of ink, Kaplan said.

I wasn’t sure how deeply the article affected me until I started writing this post.

I haven’t been lost in a real desert, but when it comes to writing, it feels like I’ve been in death valley for the majority of the last few months. And I feel like I’ve been at a stand still, just waiting for rain.

Writing is a huge part of my life. But other parts  of my life have needed my attention even more. Marriage and family, homeschool, housework, church and Write2ignite…all important. All with different needs.

And since the other parts of my life needed so much of me, for a time, it felt like the “writing part” of me dried up.

But to to my joyful astonisment, I’m finding that I can survive…EVEN in the desert.

When I’m snuggling with my teenager and listening as she shares what’s on her heart, I’m reminded of why I write. When she asks me to help her with the story she’s writing, the seed of an idea starts to take root. 

When I’m listening to my first grader read her favorite new early reader book for the upteenth time, I can feel the seed breaking through the dirt.

And when I’m reading about undersea creatures with my third grader, the idea is being watered. And when I’m helping her learn how to write poetry, the idea is growing leaves.

The idea is now blossoming…even though I feel like I’m still standing still. I am pushing forward and putting it to paper. Digging deeper and deeper, I pull out weeds of doubt that are sucking life away from the new growth. 

There is life, even in a desert. And just like Mr. Rosenthal, I pray my pen never truly runs dry.

Are you in a desert? If so, where is your pen?

Donna Earnhardt is a wife, homeschooling mom and wordwrangler. You can see her ramblings on life, writing and relationships at

14 thoughts on “Desert Writing

  1. Great post, Donna.

    I love his resourcefulness. It’s easy for me to come up with excuses for why I can’t write, but he made it work, and he didn’t even have paper. Very cool.

  2. Donna,

    At first I thought this was a joke. Sometimes reality is hard to believe. What an interesting post.

    I’m not in a desert but I certainly understand being there. Hang on and keep collecting those story ideas. You are indeed a survivor. I wish you only the very best!

    Linda A.

  3. Surviving that long really IS hard to believe, isn’t it? But – he did. There are a lot of things we can learn from his story and some truths that I’m still chewing on. Maybe there’s even enough stuff running around in my head for another post! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by, Linda. If you get a chance to check out the other articles on this blog, I think you’ll enjoy them. There is even a post about giving your characters a personality test!


    • Hi Caroline – Thank you for stopping by our Tide Pool! 🙂 The story has been picked up by several papers and the details are interesting. They were able to follow his footprints and find him. But bad he not stayed still, they might never have done so!

      I stopped by your website and wow! Congratulations on your book Hole Mole and your new one, Brave Donatella! When is the release date?

      (If anyone wants to see the sweet cover of Caroline’s new book, check it out here:


  4. I thought I was reading a page from own life! With so many obligations, I feel my writing suffers. But as your blog states, it’s in those busy times, our story seeds are sprouting.
    Thanks for the encouragement.

  5. DONNA,
    YOur post was poignant. Thankfully I’m not in a desert at the moment but certainly have had times of being so busy that I haven’t had time to write! I’m glad that you are finding inspiration in all sorts of different places. SOunds like the Lord is watering your soul! Carol

    • Hi Carol!

      Thank you for the kind words. And you are right -God has loosed the clouds…and there is a lot of watering going on! I went to Starbucks last night for about 30 minutes and just sat. Did I mention that I do NOT drink coffee? 🙂 (I ordered a hot cocoa instead). I just sat and soaked in the peace.

      ONe of the signs on the wall said, “Drink Deeply. Relax.”

      Exactly. 🙂

  6. This is a great post. I’ve always heard that you should look at your own life for inspiration when writing. You do this in a way I’ve never thought about. Maybe I’ll get back to my writing too.
    Love you
    Your M-I-L

    • Hello my sweet VIVI!

      You SHOULD get back to your writing. I know how fabulous and gifted you are. Maybe you’ll give me a sneak peek into the memoir? A girl can hope, right? 🙂

      I love you, too.


      p.s. for anyone who doesn’t know, Vivian is my wonderful mother-in-love. I wouldn’t trade her for the world!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s