In a college dorm, in a prison, in a marriage
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Christine Byl lives in a yurt north of Denali National Park. She is the author of the memoir Dirt Work: An Education in the Woods and makes her living as a professional trail-builder. She loves bridges, birds, sled dogs, tools, free speech, and snow (the more the better).
I have to say, what kept me there was not the science but the place. I wanted to be there in a way that had purpose. I didn’t want to visit or go on long kayak trips. I wanted to spend my life in Prince William Sound. For five years I lived at a field camp for three or four months at a time. The work gave me a purpose for being there: a part to play in protecting the ecosystem.
Articulating life — converting inarticulate being into words — is definitely one of the great joys of being a writer. For me, the great frustration of being a writer is the same as what frustrates me in my spiritual life: my own stupidity, ignorance, and inability at times to perceive and give voice to the wonder and truth that is always there.