Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Never Surrender Blog Fest

Today, I'm taking part in Elana Johnson's Never Surrender Blog Fest, which is meant to celebrate the release of her sophomore novel, Surrender. Before I get to my post, I'll give Elana a chance to explain:

All you have to do is blog about a time you didn't surrender. Trained for a marathon? Queried agents? Had to study for an entrance exam? I'm looking for inspirational stories that you have experienced. Hard things you've accomplished because you didn't give up. I want to be inspired by you!

Anyone who blogs this week for the theme can enter to win one of three $15 B&N gift cards. Everyone who blogs this week will receive a SURRENDER swag package.

Don’t blog? Put the cover of Surrender up on your FB wall, or pin it on Pinterest, or change your twitter avatar to the cover. Use the words “Never Surrender” somewhere to go with the picture, and link back to this post.

Sign up in this form to make sure you get the swag package. Elana will visit each blog to read your inspirational "never surrender" moments. Sign your blog up to participate in the Never Surrender blogfest linklist below. 

Now, let me share a story with you:

Before we begin, here's a topographic map of the Idaho panhandle, courtesy of Google Maps:


That letter A marks a town called Bonners Ferry. It's literally about 15 miles from the Canadian border. In the interest of keeping this short, let's just say I was a pretty willful teenager, and after being expelled from a nice, college prep boarding school as a sophomore, I was shipped off to reform school, just outside beautiful Bonners Ferry.

It was a pretty dismal place. There were some nice things too, like the gorgeous landscape, but that's not the point. The point is I couldn't take it there. So I ran away. I'd actually run away from home before getting sent there. I was 16. I lived in Atlanta at the time. When I ran I caught a Greyhound bus, made it to Saint Paul Minnesota, and was own my own for about 3 weeks before I got caught. But that's not the story, I was just pointing out I was an experienced runaway at the time.

So after being at this school for about 16 months, with no vacations, I couldn't take it anymore. I was 17 by then, and I figured I was old enough to make it on my own. So I woke up one of my roommates (he'd just recently arrived), told him "let's get out of here," and we did.

We hiked through the ink black night for about twenty miles, ducking into the undergrowth beside the barbwire fences separating the cow pastures from the road every time a pair of headlights approached. It was thrilling, but it was also terrifying.

We walked until the sun came up, and then we walked some more. Eventually we found a country bar, and some people willing to give us a ride. They brought us down the highway, south of Sandpoint (see the map), and to someone's house. They put us to work, and fed us, but the whole thing was pretty nerve racking, because they were these Aryan Nation anti-establishment types, and we wondered every minute if they were going to kidnap us.

They ended up letting us go, but the next day we had to hike 50 miles south to Couer D'Alene. The whole journey was an exercise in never surrendering, but if you've ever hiked 50 miles in a day (it takes about 18 hours) you'd know that day specifically is my shining example. We had a little water, but we had no food, and it takes a lot of determination to continue putting one foot in front of the other when the sun is beating down on the back of your neck.

I ended up making it to Seattle, and hung out in the airport for a few days, trying to convince my guardians to legally emancipate me, but I ended up having to go back. The story goes on, but you've read the exciting part. Don't worry, I'll write a book about it all someday.

That's it for my Never Surrender story, but there's more:
 
This week, as part of the SURRENDER blog tour, you can win one of three $15 Barnes & Noble gift cards and become a winner winner, chicken dinner! All you have to do is fill out this rafflecopter widget with what you’ve done. NOTE: One of the options is to blog about a time you didn’t surrender. Go here for full details on this, including how to sign up for your free swag package!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

44 comments:

Old Kitty said...

I'm first?!!? Yay!

Matthew McNish and friend! Ya know there is juvenile rebelliousness and there is just totally jaw-dropping, it's so unreal and outlandish, it must be true type of thing and by golly you and your friend have surpassed even the latter.

What!??!?!

I doff my cap and all its trimmings to you two! Amazing.

Take care
x

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You really do need to write that story. I can't imagine doing that as a teen. I can't imagine doing it at any time!

Suzie F. said...

I want to read that book.

You may have hiked 50 miles that day, but look how far you've come.

*pushes jaw up to close mouth*

maine character said...

Fifty miles in one day is amazing. I did twenty once, and felt it for days.

And your post reminded me of this from a young Bob Dylan:

Hibbing's a good ol' town. I ran away from it when I was 10, 12, 13, 15, 15½, 17 an' 18. I been caught an' brought back all but once.

Natalie Aguirre said...

That whole experience sounds like a Never Surrender one. I was a rebellious kid too but in secret. My parents never caught on and it's a miracle I didn't get into big trouble. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. It could be a YA book if you wanted.

My blogfest post will be up on Friday.

Anna Staniszewski said...

Wow, that experience definitely needs to become a book! *waits impatiently while you write it*

Dianne K. Salerni said...

Holy Crap, Matt! Reform school? Runaway? Guardians? Aryan Nation?

The question is, why haven't you already written this down?

And if reform school didn't reform you, what did?

Elise Fallson said...

I'd pre-order that book! (:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My best friend lived in Couer D'Alene for a year and she told me about the scary white supremacists there. I would've been scared, too.

Christine Danek said...

Start writing that book, I want to read it. I can't even imagine walking tht far and what you went through.
Wow, my friend.

SA Larsenッ said...

I love the outdoors, but hiking 50 miles in a day. I'd need a horse. (No, not a donkey.)

Jericha Senyak said...

Yeah, I want to read that book.

Amber said...

Well check you out... you've totally got a memoir there :) I spent summers in Alaska till I was 12. All we did was hike, fish, and camp- so you totally peaked my interest. I would def. read that book!

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Love your never surrender story! And yes I've hiked for, well okay, it was only 12 hours and my dad actually fed me, but dang that was some hard work!

Congrats to Elana on her release!

Talli Roland said...

Matthew! Oh my goodness, how determined you must have been to trek through the wilderness! Wow. I'm in awe.

Deana said...

Now that is an amazing never surrender story! I think I would have fallen by the wayside:)

Andrew Leon said...

Darn, I don't think I'm going to have time to do this this week :(

Awesome story, though. I'm more curious about what you learned from the experience.

Jennifer Hoffine said...

Wow. That does sound like it would make a good book...though, as a mom, I'm totally freaked about the potential hazzards of your adventure.

Cassie Mae said...

Holy crap! I can barely go to the grocery store on my own. Yeah, get writing that book!

Michael G-G said...

Forget the novel/memoir. I'm calling casting agents. Any ideas who should play Young Matt?

Quite the story, Matt. After 50 miles, you must have felt near death.

Joshua said...

I didn't run away. I just vandalized.

RaShelle Workman said...

18 miles is a lot of hiking in one day! Wow!!! Glad you were kept safe. =D

Nicole Zoltack said...

Wow!

Christina Lee said...

HOLY SHIZZLE!!!!!!!!!!! Now THAT is a YA book if I ever heard one! Matt, your stories blow me away!

Angela Ackerman said...

Holy cow--that's quite the story, Matt. I've been to Bonner's Ferry too, and Sandpoint and Coeur d' Alene. Holy hell that's quite a trek--I bet you thought some pretty deep thoughts during your ordeal.

I can only imagine how hard it was. However, the experience sure set you up to have the determination and stamina needed to survive the writer's road, now didn't it? :)

Ange

Jemi Fraser said...

I'd have been terrified - but I was lucky enough to grow up in a home full of love ... so I was a bit of a naive wimp about the big scary world! :)

Elana Johnson said...

Wow, I'm sensing a whole lot of stories here, not just the one you wrote. I have never walked 50 miles in one day, so I bow to you.

And I think you're great. :)

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

Dang, Matt. Now that's an exercise in perseverance. And talk about cajones. Sheesh. I'm so glad you weren't kidnapped. Man, anything could've happened to you. Don't ever do that again or you're totally grounded.

DL Hammons said...

Fifty miles.....FRAK!!!

Heather Murphy said...

WOW! That's an awesome story! I like to hike but I think 50 miles in a day is a little much for me

Kimberly Gabriel said...

Looks like I'm not the only one who's about to say it...I would pick up the book of your story in a heartbeat.

I can't even imagine running away ending with a 50 miles hike...I was a total quitter in high school...I never would have made it past mile 3!

Kelly Polark said...

Wow. Matt, you've had quite a life! Glad you kept on keeping on!

Wine and Words said...

My "never give up" for $15! I release that burden. Jeeeze. $15! Y'all go for it.

Contest surrendered, I thereby say...

This...this bravery to continue on a path...is now. The path is me...true self, (hiding nothing, conceding nothing that is not completely true within me) and not crumble, concave like a cranium under pressure! To press onwards to the person I know I am, against everything everyone thinks I am, and should be, and could be....to surrender to "I cannot"...

F*ck. So hard. Swimming up stream for so long. My arms weary. But they are still swimming.

mshatch said...

I ran away once. No twice. I forgot, the first time was just out to he barn.

elizabeth seckman said...

I ran away at the age of 6. I made it 5 miles from home and nearly gave my mother a heart attack!

Siv Maria said...

Great post! You ran away to two of the places I have lived in :) Wonder if we ever crossed paths :)

Creepy Query Girl said...

Woah. You were quite the adventurer (I'd love to hear more of this story. You should write a memoir) but yes, definitely a prime example of never giving up or surrendering.

Pk Hrezo said...

You sound like me. I'd have done the same thing, and even tho been freaked out something bad would happen, thrilled to be free and making it on my own. It'd make an excellent YA story. Who doesn't love a hellion??

Vivien said...

WOW!!! That's one hell of a story. I couldn't imagine it, especially without provisions. It would absolutely make a great novel!

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

I went to school in Moscow, Idaho with an engineer that lived in Bonner's Ferry. He was smokin' hot too. That's all I know about that place...

Donna K. Weaver said...

Wow, Matt, scary indeed! That took some serious nerve (or desperation) to do it. Are you glad now they forced you to return? Or do you still wish you'd been emancipated? Nowadays if a 17-year-old runs away (at least in Utah) they can't be forced back.

Barbara Watson said...

That is QUITE a story. And you need to write the book and finish the story. :-)

Steph said...

Thanks for the giveaway! I can't wait to read this series!!

jamieayres said...

Ok, you really, really, really need to write this story soon now that we're all curious. This is the stuff legends are made of:)