Wednesday, March 10, 2010

naked and pure.

Writing, as a profession, is the by far the most disrespected and enviable. The ideal type begins like this: poor middle-aged bastard who chain-smokes and hates people like Anglicans love whiskey, suddenly strikes it rich with a stroke of brilliance that comes from seemingly nowhere but that has, in fact, been there the entire time. I think that writing as a profession attracts the most confused sorts of folks. It’s that everyone wants to be heard, but no one actually likes to write. I don’t believe that I speak to many who say that they love to write. But they all want to be writers. That famous quote, ‘the hardest part about writing is starting and not stopping.’ I’ve always thought that there is one major similarity between real writers and lawyers. Both have an immeasurable capacity to do boring stuff.

There are a ton of issues. That’s both the beauty and the shit of it all. The good news is that there will always be a market, there will always be something to write about, something to interpret or make sense of, and people with perspective and a creative way of conveying that perspective turn into writers. There are things that will never go away, even if the form changes or mediums disappear. People will always listen to music and people will always read. That’s just the plain and simple truth. 

And its patience too. I think a lot of problems that need to be solved have to do with patience. We want right now what took our parents and grandparents 25 years to build. It is the problem of wanting something for nothing, of being an adult. It’s about taking punches and not quitting. About being told no and choosing not to pout and walking back into the fire to make a day of it. And it comes back to how people look at money, like more if it will solve your problems, like money isn’t the problem in itself. Something for nothing.

Because when life is standing before you, naked and pure, take a mental picture. Have  something to wake up for every morning, that one thing, and the world seems to make a little more sense. Try everything, especially when you are young, because youth is (or should be) urgent. But don’t be like Andrew and Jodee’s dog Boston, because he tried the turd in the bushes and got both a mouth and an ear-full. Some things are best indulged while no one is looking.

Just so you know (perhaps you don’t care, and if that is the case, then now is a good time to bounce off of this page to one that more specifically engages your fancy, or you can read a book, someone will appreciate that), I am making changes. I am finding some help to rework the page, and I want to make the content less about me, because I’m the first to admit that no one gives a damn about memoirs and they just come across as pretentious and untrue. Unless you are Nelson Mandella or someone who actually knows something, odds are we don’t care about your life*. A bummer about being born in 1986 is that I don’t know very many people who both survived the depression and fought in a war. Those are the people who know a thing or two about stark-naked life. I would probably read memoirs written by people who fit these criteria.  I will also be posting more often, perhaps even imbedding some extra doo-hickey gadgets that don’t really matter so that I can get more people engaged in reading what I have to say.

Because here is the plan. I want to write, I really like it (in a therapeutic problem solving way, not that I usually enjoy it because that would be contradictory to paragraph 1). Writing is only two things, perspective and craft, and I figure that I have a lifetime to perfect the craft. I figure that if I get an essay collection by the time I’m 70 I’ll be a real-life Norman McLean, and I’ll die content and with the most rods. I can’t help it.

I don’t know if you can tell, but I can’t focus today. I think this is mostly penitence for failing a lot in the past three days, perhaps a shot of self-pity and a questioning of how the hell I got here. Its four eighteen and in thirty minutes I will be either at the bar or finishing a John Gierach essay. On the one hand, craft brew really makes me feel better about myself in a ‘memoir’ sort of way. But the John essay is good, and I have some tobacco that actually tastes like it should, so option two is also a feasible outcome. This has become the question of the day, a day that has produced nothing except tiny victories and mounting defeats.

And the answer to the question is to go fishing.


*I publish this paragraph at the risk of sounding oft-putting, rude, and generally like an asshole. Before you write me off, just know that I'm talking about print memoirs, like augusten burroughs and other worthless work like that. Its just a rant. I'm not writing about LC or NorCal or other who pour their hearts and lives into their online medium, because these are real people with real lives who tell the truth and love to write. That is the best part of an online outdoor community, sharing stories. So please, accept this little post-script and take my writing for what its worth (which is exactly what you paid for it). Thanks. 


  1. This and the last few posts is good writing to my eye and mind

  2. I agree with Dan.

    A very smart guy told me two things about writing, he didn't make either of them up

    Its spring two famous authors are walking down a city street, one pauses bends down and picks up the stub of a pencil, later at lunch he's still toying with the pencil stub, asked why he asks "how many stories are left in this pencil"?

    Then he told me if you want to be a writer - write.

    Looking forward to your next post
    Your pal

  3. Keep writing, man. I've written every day since you were two years old and I am still perfecting my craft, which, on those rare days when I slice a vein and write with what comes out, can seem like art.

    But I must say to you this: Dude, you really don't need all those rods to catch fish! Three will set you free...


  4. Great read, Ryan. As you probably know, I support all of your various endeavors, especially fishing and writing. Keep up the good work, my friend.