7th Anniversary Post

Posted on May 18, 2018

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Just noticed that today is the Mt. St. Helens explosion anniversary. We got ash on our car in Rye, NH when that happened. And, no this has nothing to do with my blog.

As I look back at 2018 it seems like I’ve been doing nothing but writing, yet despite my usual annual push to publish my numerous draft posts as the anniversary looms the blog has the fewest posts ever (21!) .

I just counted. In the last 30 days alone I’ve completed 5 blogs, a novella for an anthology, a short story for a reading competition, the feature piece for Fly Fish Journal, a conservation piece for American Angler, and two short stories. Dang! That’s almost 25,000 words. Thank god for editors and beta readers. Probably wrote some stuff for work, too, but it never comes to mind.

There is of course the annual Crooked Doors of Christmas posts, and a few car shows here, and here.

Gasp! There are NO fishing posts! How can this be? I did make a gorgeous rod, though, and write a couple of posts on that: Underwrap Tutorial, I Want Teal Waders, and Amber’s Rod. I spent 3 months building a closet and writing about it, but my camera fitzed and wiped all of the photos, so that blog became pointless. This might’ve been metaphorical, but I digress.

I almost forgot I shot some fireworks.

And I went to the Eclipse.

I did post a few new short stories, some of them back in the Bradburian vein, which I quite liked: Blood Dust, Falling Awake, Gunpowder Worm, Old-Fashioned Lime Vanilla Ice. I think if you like my fly fishing stories, you might find some of these refreshing (re)turns to a different form/style. In fact, I just reread it and Old Fashioned is probably the best thing I ever wrote, by a long shot. It’s a wonder what a little inspiration can do. I’ll wait while you go read it. It’s short.

You’re back? Did you like it? I don’t see comments. Did you read the original? It’s okay, I still have time.

Anyway, I’m still working on one long novella, Fishing the Dorian Gray, which lacks but time to be done. This actually falls into my marketing strategy to publish two books of short stories (for the fun of it, I put all my short stories here into one Word doc that was 300pp and 111,000 words), 4 novellas, and my novel in quick succession. I did publish the first chapter of the novel, Boa, here a year ago to the day as I write this. The novel must then moveback to front and center…but I keep having so many good short story ideas. Which all seem to become novellas. Honesty, it was a real triumph this year to write short for a change again.

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Photo by Amber Mullen

One thing that is a bit different this year is that I’m “scratch writing” stories for specific issues in specific markets, and since those require first publication rights and some of them consider vanity blogs “publication” I have them out in circulation to see if they get picked up, rather than publishing them here. Hatch Magazine published both The Snob and Calculated Risk this year, as well as Drinking and Fishing, which reminds me I never put that up here, so here is my long version of that piece, with better photos (because my friend Amber took them) than the magazine used.

The two stories, especially Calculated Risk are worth looking up even if just for the readers’ comments. People cancelled their subscriptions, which is a weird thing to advertise, but in retrospect, I think is a great compliment in a way. I set out to write a character in a certain way, and I clearly succeeded. Not everybody is lovable. I actually lobbied to pull the story based on the shit storm it caused, but Chad Smulker the editor/publisher stuck by it, for which he has my unwavering respect.

Image by Mike Sepelak

But they passed on She Loves Me, She Cleaned My Truck because although they liked it, they sat on it for so long without telling me they wanted to publish it, I pushed it out here on the blog. Which is a damned shame because it is by far the most popular post of the year with 395 hits in less than a week! (It was covered by Mike Sepelak who linked to it from a similar piece, Laundered.) Lesson learned. I am therefore holding my newest piece, a true story about capsizing a sailboat with a Wooly Bugger, for them to publish.

Likewise, I decided I wanted to get the feature piece for the Fly Fish Journal, and nailed it with a new piece Troutaholics Anonymous which will be coming out in the summer issue, very soon, and which I hope will get me a reading at the launch party.  The Journal will have published me 7 times now, and my concern there is that while most of the writing in FFJ is beautiful and lyrical, they seem to take only my humor pieces, and I don’t want to be seen strictly as a humorist, especially in such an esteemed circle. But again, the fact that such a respected publication takes the time to work with me and elevate my craft is very humbling. I had to cut 3500 words out of that piece (nearly half) to make length, and even at that, they published it at their maximum allowable length. It helps that my editor reads my drafts in the bathroom, I suppose.

My first piece in a book will be coming out in the fall, as part of an anthology inspired by the Lovecraft Chuthlu mythos a piece called The Dam on Eldritch Creek (although maybe that should be The Damned on Eldritch Creek?). And yes, it has fly fishing in it. It came from an idea from a friend of mine (Eric Wilson) to write about the Elwha dam removal, something I made a small study of a few years back. From there it just “flowed” out and I had 10,000 words in a week. I’m getting much better at drafting pieces and thinking through them which helps increase throughput (two blogs in the draft folder on that alone). Again, I cannot publish that here until the book comes out, though, so please buy the book!

Image by Roger Mosely, rogermosely.smugmug.com

High on this success, I scratch-wrote another piece for a reading competition I entered last year. The other writers and the organizer told me I would’ve won it had there been a reading-only category (it was swept by bands), so since this year they had 4 writing prizes I sat down and wrote a new story, The Water Knot. I worked hard on this piece for over a month. I think it is a good, high concept, story, but perhaps I lacked the skill to tell it in the time allotted, for I got got beat badly, by doggerel, multiple times. I’m still trying to divine the lessons from that night.

I cracked a new market, American Angler, with a conservation piece that Phil Monahan, editor at Orvis asked me to write about the net pen debacle out here in the Sound. I have yet to see that piece in print. I scratch wrote that on a Sunday afternoon. This brought me to thinking about writing a conservation column for Hatch Magazine, something I would dearly love to do and which they accepted, but where is the time?

As I was working on this piece, I started perusing my draft folder and published a few pieces. One of them, How Kurt Vonnegut Taught Me to Create PowerPoint Decks was up about 5 minutes on a writers’ site before getting reposted to LinkedIn and Medium.  So I guess that’s publishing? Although writing about writing instead of writing seems a bit procratinational. Procrastinatorial? Ah well, it’s a bad day if I don’t get to make up a word.

Featured image graciously provided by the artist Maya Eilam at mayaeilam.com who brilliantly illustrated the story “shapes” in Vonnegut’s Masters thesis. Check out the blog for more information.

And time is always the issue isn’t it? As I write this I’m wrapping up a 10-year project to edit, design, and print Mikhail Skopets’s seminal book Fly Fishing Russia: The Far East. I have never worked on anything so hard in my life. He already has a second one written, though, so I’m not sure if I will get that time back, but I’m looking to recoup my costs in the Kickstarter and go fishing in Russia. In fact, I’m meeting Mikhail in Portland tonight!

I did spend almost 30 minutes walking around SoDo with a camera.

Way too much time got sucked into a work project writing two days worth of training that is essentially a book for my career. That will probably get chopped up into LinkedIn blogs at some point.

In summary,  at the end of another year, there is still one fantastic thing about this blog: that I started writing a decade or so ago by sitting down every Saturday morning and writing from whenever I got up until noon. It mattered not what I wrote – a story, a letter to the editor, a web page. Then, when I launched the blog, I challenged myself to publish once a week. And this kept me not just writing, but creating on all fronts. Just by pure blind luck, somebody stumbled over this little URL, linked to it and voila! I was discovered. (This is still my single best day with over 1100 hits.) From there many great things have happened for me. My writing “career” has reached actual fledgling stage, and I’ve made many great friends, people I would otherwise never have connected, or in some cases reconnected, with. So, please bear with me. If I’ve fallen off a bit in quantity, I think the quality is there, and there is always so much content just around the corner that I want to push out to the people who invest the time and energy to see what I’m up to.

I may just yet escape my toils under the Paper Mountain.

Stats

Oh, and stats are still interesting. Somehow my readership has remained relatively constant even with the paucity of posts.

And, I’m pretty damn global. I really want to fill in this map.


As always, if you made it this far, please leave a comment!

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