On Writing And The Year Ahead
“Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.”
I started writing in earnest again this past summer. It was a snap decision that did not immediately translate into the desire to write a book even though Scott and I had spoken on multiple occasions about finally chronicling our adventures so that our grandkids would have something to remember us by. Of course, I never could have dreamed what kind of a massive project it would turn into. It started with a single story I sent to Scott, but the flame was kindled and was soon out of control. Six furious weeks of writing later, and I had a completed first draft.
I’ve caught my share of flack over the years for my “wasted” English degree, but in all honestly never have I regretted my decision. I love to write. I love history. I love the history of the written word, and how it has been used to influence politics, record history, lament an enemy or woo a lover. Of course, the way we interact with the written word has changed over the course of time. The printing press made it available to the masses, but the internet and word processors have changed it to a degree no one could have possibly imagined.
Today, people are overwhelmed with the sheer amount of written material that is available to them. There are very few checks to ensure quality material is posted or published to the unfiltered sphere that is the internet. With a simple scroll down any social media feed you will find fake news websites, advertisements, opinion pieces, blogs (yes, I understand the irony), and of course the most dreaded literary piece of all: unoriginal content.
That last is what I seem to find most commonly in the hunting community. Unoriginal material being plastered, regurgitated and pushed as something new in an attempt to remain relevant or push ad space. Articles such as, “What’s the Best Elk Cartridge,” where the writer attempts to rehash a topic that has been beaten to death, and, in all honesty, probably doesn’t have an actual answer.
I understand the need and desire to fill pages, but the hunting community is a great big world full of amazing people and stories just begging to be told. I think we can do better.
Unoriginality was a task I set myself to avoid when I started writing Team Bad Decision. I tried to think about the massive amount of material I have read in hunting magazines or internet articles and pinpoint something that stood out, something that gave me a reason to remember it. I surprised myself when the answer came back with…mostly nothing.
Nearly every hunting story I’ve read over my lifetime has failed to make any sort of lasting impression on me except for two notable instances. The first being a short story on “The Great Armistice Day Storm of 1940,” which chronicled a massive blizzard that swept through the Midwest and left more then 50 duck hunters dead. The second being from Steve Rinella’s book when he talks about his early years shooting squirrels and setting his first trap lines.
That’s right, hundreds of stories, articles, books, blogs, editorials and forum posts, and only two stories leapt to the forefront of my brain. I’m sure if I spent more time thinking about things, others would bubble to the surface. But why did all those others fail to find purchase? They were undoubtedly filled with incredible animals, harrowing circumstances, and tough country. Yet, they left an unremarkable impression on me.
It was, I realized, a lack of depth concerning experience. I have to pause here as I’m in danger cross referencing an earlier blog post and regurgitating my own material. If you haven’t read my article entitled, “The 1%,” I’d suggest doing so, as my opinion on experience is pretty well thought out there.
This all brings me back full circle to my book.
How do I leave a lasting impression on my audience?
The only way I could answer that question was by referring back to those stories that left their own impressions on me and try and find what about them intrigued me.
The answer, of course, ended up being simple. It’s the answer that drives any literary piece to success. I had to give the reader a reason to care about the characters and relate to the experiences therein. I tend to think Scott and I are rather likeable, if not occasionally grumpy characters while our experiences and truths find purchase with the average hunters looking to fill their lives with the extraordinary.
I can only hope I provide that to you, the reader. The answer from my (unpaid) beta crew was a resounding yes, but I’ll leave that opinion to you.
Speaking of my beta readers…and alpha readers, my editor, my cover designer, my mom, Scott, friends and family, there is absolutely no way I could have done any of this without you. It’s not possible. The alpha readers will be the first to tell you, the first draft I churned out was pretty rough. There was potential hiding beneath its surface, but only through the collaboration of my circle was I able to bring it to life. Even now, nearly two hundred hours into the writing portion of this book, four rewrites plus a full edit…my beta readers are still finding small things that need correction.
My name might be on the cover, but this book would not be what it is without all of you.
Shifting gears, I’d like to talk about the 2019 season we have lined up. Scott and I had originally planned on heading to Alaska with our friend Adam to hunt Sitka blacktail, but plans changed, and that trip is getting pushed back to 2020. Despite the disappointment of that delay, we still have three phenomenal trips lined up. The first being spring bear, hopefully in Washington, but we have Idaho as a backup plan if we don’t draw. Both hunts give us the opportunity to do what we love most, spending our springs in remote wilderness areas chasing bears.
The second trip is a Montana archery elk hunt during the month of September in an area we’ve never been, based on a tip we received. Which sounds a lot like our Colorado adventures, and if Montana can replicate even a shadow of what we experienced in Colorado, we are in for quite the experience. We are capping the year off with a relatively low adventure, high success over the counter deer hunt in Montana in early November.
Scott calls me the eternal optimist, but I can feel something unheralded brewing.
Note: If you didn’t know I was releasing a book…now you do! Head on over to our Facebook page (you can click the Facebook icon at the top of the page) and give us a like. The book is slated for a Spring 2019 release!