NaNoWriMo: Day 14 & Eye on the Iditarod: Aisling’s Quest

Excuses. It seems that when we least want them they rear their ugly heads and keep us from doing the things we know we need to do. In this way, I’ve found that exercise and writing both come with their share of excuses.

I can’t possibly go for a run, I have to write.
I can’t possibly write, I have to exercise check my email.

Yes, my recent excuse has been that I can’t write on the weekends because that’s when my kids are home. Now it’s true, when both brothers are here they always end up within a four foot space of my writing desk yelling at each other about some grievance or another despite my pleas for them to separate, go outside, or “For God’s sake leave me alone.” Still, a few words are better than none, just as walking is as good as running. In short, something is better than nothing at all. So you can see that my trending progress has plateaued…

…and I need inspiration.  Thus I bring you an inspiring young person, Aisling Lara Shepherd!

Aisling (pronounced Ashley) is an aspiring musher who wrote a memoir with the help of children’s author Hope Irvin Marston. Their book, EYE ON THE IDITAROD: AISLING’S QUEST, is both exciting and inspiring.

Memoir is never easy and a memoir for an eleven year-old girl doesn’t give the writer much to work with– or so you might think. With Aisling though, there is plenty to say. She started life with the adversity of serious eye muscle problems that required years of surgeries. While she recovered, she watched the Iditarod on TV, learned about mushing, and was hooked. One dog led, to a sled, which led to more dogs and races. Before Aisling and their family knew it, they were feeding butcher bits to a kennel full of dogs in Maine and supporting Aislings mushing habit. As with many activities that start with one person’s interest, the whole family was drawn into the community of mushers. Throughout injuries and dog life cycles, Aislings dream of racing the Iditarod has stayed constant. That is inspirational.

Hope Irvin Marston does a wonderful job turning Aisling’s story into a well-plotted and well-written adventure that keeps readers wondering what will happen next. The backmatter includes a glossary, teaching ideas, Iditarod resources for the web, photos of Aisling and her family (dog and person), and a wonderful list of mushing/adventure books for younger and middle grade readers. Illustrations by Bob Renaud highlight certain scenes in the text. The only complaint I had was that I wanted to know if Aisling made it to the Iditarod, but that part of the story has yet to be lived!

And… my novel has yet to be written. Today when I want to stop writing, I will think of Aisling driving her team of sled dogs through cold, and snow and how they never make excuses. They find the thrill in doing what they love to do. Happy writing.

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