Thursday, September 28, 2023

Q&A with Glenda Goodrich




Glenda Goodrich is the author of the new book Solo Passage: 13 Quests, 13 Questions. Also an artist and art doula, she lives in Salem, Oregon.


Q: What inspired you to write Solo Passage?


A: This book took on a life of its own and demanded to be written. I received the call to write it while walking on a trail alongside a meandering creek.


It was my fourth wilderness quest and I had just experienced an unexpected and thrilling visitation from a great horned owl (the experience is described in a chapter of my book titled, “Finding My Medicine Name”).


The notion to write a book about my wilderness quests entered my mind that day loud and clear like a Tibetan gong: I need to write a book. Really? Me?


I wasn’t an author at the time, so I committed myself to four years of studying and practicing the craft of writing (which, of course, never ends if you want to be a good writer).


I then worked one-on-one with a writing coach for a year revising and improving my stories. I wanted to become a good enough writer that the results of my effort would be what I described as worthy of my questing stories.


The book took six years to write, and I still don’t know if it’s worthy, but it’s my love offering—the best I have to offer.


At times I felt like my family lineage both back in time and forward in time was cheering me on to write the book—all my ancestors and all those who have yet to join us in this beautiful place called Earth.


I wrote the book as a pathway for my beloved descendants to follow and find their way back to their connection with Mother Earth. Who knows what will be left of the wilderness by the time my beloved ones become septuagenarians?


Through these stories, they can know how one of their ancestors lived, what she loved, and how the seed of wilderness questing was planted in her, took root in her life, and changed how she lived.


Q: The author Ann Linnea said of the book, “Glenda’s honest memoir about her personal wilderness vision quests is a powerful statement about the relevance of this ancient form to those of us in modern life…” What do you think of that assessment?


A: The wilderness quest, also known as a vision quest or a vision fast, is a centuries-old rite of passage intended to awaken personal vision and purpose. It is an act of courage and determination that involves solitude, fasting, and prayer.


I honor the people who have held this ceremony and passed the teachings on through the generations so that non-native Native people like me could experience the power of questing in wild places.


Throughout history people have practiced some form of fasting and isolation as a rite of passage. Most of us who take part in questing today have been called to the ceremony from somewhere deep in our DNA, beckoned by ancient and enduring memories of our connection to Mother Earth. We long to be held by her. We long to re-member ourselves back to her.


Modern life is so full of distractions from quiet introspection and is divorced from nature. My book opens the door to thinking about these two very important things for anyone wanting to expand their life, from sitting on your small patio next to a potted plant to going out on a multi-day hiking experience in the wilderness.


I went to the mountain over and over again to be with Mother Earth and find guidance from her that helped me tackle very specific issues my life.


My time in the wild helped me circle back to the events of my life and sort through them, find deeper meaning, and make peace with my past. This is the restorative and healing power nature offers if we are willing to be quiet and pay attention.


My dream is that my book will empower a whole host of readers—from those who are just curious to learn more to those who might sign up for an entire wilderness vision quest.


Q: How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you?


A: The title went through several iterations. The problem as I saw it was that there are so many books out there with the word quest in them, from graphic novels to murder mysteries. I wanted something more distinct and descriptive.


I created a word cloud (free on and made a list of the words most often repeated in my book, then I added others that I felt described what the aboutness of my book, words like ceremony, isolation, nature, healing, wilderness, adventure, intention, and so on.


That list included solo passage and 13 quests, 13 questions. I narrowed the list down to my favorites, then sent it to my publishing team at She Writes Press and let them choose their favorites.


Together, we came up with the combination of Solo Passage: 13 Quests, 13 Questions, and I loved it. It perfectly captured the idea that the rite of passage of a vision quest is done alone.


Plus, the number 13 is intriguing and has spiritual and numerological significance (I write more about this in the chapter in the book titled “Healing the Mother Wound, July Full Buck Moon”).


Q: What impact did it have on you to write the book?


A: Each time I combed through my journals and memories to reconstruct what happened on a quest, I relived the experience.


It was surprising to discover that I had memorized the physical location of every one of my solo questing sites—the trees and rocks, the type of soil beneath my feet, altars I had created, the 360-degree views from my power site, everything.


I could reconstruct the place in my mind and that helped me remember the details and experiences more vividly. I also consulted my journals for information.


I knew going into the writing what each of my quests had been about, but writing the various scenes, summaries, and reflections expanded my understanding of the experiences and teachings I had received.


Diving more deeply into my questing experiences, helped me find the threads of meaning and tease those out into a finished piece with a beginning, a middle, and an end.


Some of that deep diving was painful to relive, like growing up with an alcoholic father and regrets about mistakes I’d made with my own children. But I kept asking myself, what’s the point of a memoir if you don’t tell the whole truth? So I stuck with it.


Even now after all the revisions and edits I still can’t read some parts without tearing up.


When I finished the book and looked at it whole, I was surprised to discover how often birds had shown up as allies and teachers on my quests. And I was also surprised to realize how many amazing and wonder-filled things had happened to me out there in the wild. Truly miraculous.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I’m working on a section of my website that invites my readers more personally into the 13 questions presented in my book.


As a virtual vision quest guide my website will offer resources, book lists, stories about the healing and restorative powers of nature, art and creativity suggestions to deepen your connection to nature, and tips and tools for how to get the most from the time you spend in nature.


Q:  Anything else we should know?


A: It’s never too late to find and live your life purpose. I have been a janitor, a nurse, a foreman in a sawmill, a corporate executive, a women’s adventure guide, an artist, a teacher, a ceremonialist, and an author.


Spending time alone in nature to get clear on who I am and what I want from life has taken me places I never dreamed possible. Get outside. The earth says much to those who listen.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment