Who I Am: A Bite-Sized Bio

I’m Margaret Hammitt-McDonald, a naturopathic physician, licensed acupuncturist, elementary-school librarian, college writing instructor, and writer. I contribute a monthly column on bicycle commuting and cycling culture to HipFish, an alternative newspaper for the North Coast of Oregon. I also make periodic contributions to Upper Left Edge, an online and print literary journal, featuring writers from our upper-left corner of Oregon. I’ve been writing and rewriting, demolishing and polishing science fiction and fantasy novels since I was a teenager, and now, as a better-trained and hopefully wiser writer, I’m embarking on the journey toward publication to share my work with a wider audience.

I live between the Coast Range and the coast itself, enjoying the beauty where forest, beach, and mountains meet. Hiking, backpacking, dragonboating, bicycling, gardening, and just being outside with my family inspire my writing. My favorite writers include Ursula K. Le Guin, Toni Morrison, Patricia McKillip, and David James Duncan. Here are my odd…um, unique writing habits:

  1. I use a standing desk to write. So my feet don’t get sore, I folded up three or four towels and stand on them. (We have a wood floor, and wood floor + stocking feet + hours spent writing daily = plantar fasciitis, or fasciosis, as my chiropractor spouse reminds me is the correct term, since fascia can’t get inflamed and thus don’t get -itises, if you know what I mean.)
  2. I love to write to music: quiet classical to start, symphonic metal when I’ve gotten into the swing. Sometime I’ll share my playlists.
  3. Because I’m the parent of a young child and have a full work day with my patients, I get up at 3 a.m. to write. Yup, that’s 3 a.m. My Dad bequeathed this strange monastic biorhythm on me; that’s when he got up for completing chores that my brother and I tended to interrupt, if done during our waking hours. (This is why, to this day, I find laundry sounds so soothing and soporific.) While I wouldn’t consider my crazy early hours a foolproof formula for inspiration, the moral of the story is to carve out spacetime as best you can, since few of us do this as our day job.

I’m sure I have other writing peculiarities, but the most important advice I can give is this: write regularly, preferably every day. Some folks wait until inspiration strikes, but inspiration is a fickle being, crash-landing in your head to wake you up one night and then, rather than striking, going on strike for days, weeks, even years. Daily writing creates the physical-mental space that invites inspiration to visit and then to stay. Alas, writer’s block can pay a visit too, but never fear, you can conjure your own sneaky ways to get around this big, bad wall. My favorite is to read what I’ve written the day before and do some editing. This uses a different branches of my brain but also pulls me back into the story, and soon enough, the writing flows back into that dry streambed.

I welcome you to join me in my explorations, experiments, adventures, and occasionally advice, and I invite you to share your own thoughts from your writing journey!

Luthien voguing
This is my daughter Luthien. She is more photogenic than I am.

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