Category Archives: Making a living

DAY 360

It’s five days shy of the new year.

Holy. Crap.

Not sure if it goes without saying, but every time the calendar reaches the last page and more days are crossed off, it tends to become the season for self-reflection and assessing the events of the past year. I hate looking back – mainly because I’m a sentimental fool. It’s a slippery, emotional slope. But yet I do, year after year, because sentiment teaches me how to pay better attention while I’m making my way through today.

This past year, I’ve run the gamut from riding an ecstatic high to having my cup checked on more than one occasion. Between my freelance business, time with family, time in the woods and on the water, travel, making new friends and building stronger relationships with the friends I already have, it’s been a crazy 360 days – and I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not always as appreciative as I should be with the fantastic cards I’m being dealt. As a matter of fact, I know I down-right suck at it many days. I also know that it could all go away in the smallest of heartbeats.

And so, I stop and look back – allow myself some time to be sentimental and run through all of the joy, sorrow, peace, turmoil, hopelessness and fulfillment that come with it. I let myself ease on down that slippery slope.

But just like sliding down that riverbank to the spot on the river that painful-few brave souls try – cussing myself out because I’ve punctured my waders, dropped fly boxes and snagged my face and hands on thorns before stopping, looking back, smiling and turning to the river and it’s un-pestered denizens – so it is looking back at 2012. This year has been fantastic. And I’ve jumped through my own ass to get to this day. But it’s not about jumping through my own ass. Now it’s about finding my center again – and re-focusing on being the best dad, husband and friend I can be.

So, here’s to a little sentimentality in all of our lives. Have a safe and fantastic New Year.

And now, because I had a year in which I actually experienced what it’s like to be able to generate fish-porn, in addition to being on the water with the kids more than I’ve ever been, here’s a little retrospective from ought-twelve.

 

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Filed under Making a living, On the water, The road

PRETTIER THAN A CATFISH IN SHALLOW WATER

It’s been a while in the making, but Pulp Fly, Volume 1 is finally here. This eBook anthology of stories written by fly fishing writers is a first in the industry — and it’s good-looking body of work. The collection includes the literary machinations of Pete McDonald, Alex Landeen, Matt Dunn, Bruce Smithhammer, Bjorn Stromsness, Michael Gracie, Bob White, Ralph Barthold, Alex Cervieniak and Davin Ebanks. Oh, and me.

The eBook will be available for purchase on Amazon April 1st. Nook and iBook versions will be available not long after. Check in on the Pulp Fly website and “like” the Pulp Fly Facebook page to learn more about the project.

Buy the book. Spread the word. Thanks, all.

Pulp Fly. Easy on the eyes.

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Filed under Making a living, On the water

THE VIEW FROM MY BOOKSHELVES

My home office has got some hellafied built-in bookshelves. As a matter of fact, those bookshelves and the barn were the two things that sold me on the house when we first looked at it. The reason for my bookshelf love is that I’ve got a hellafied collection of books and sundry life-artifacts that fill them like bookshelves should be filled. It’s a hand-in-glove thing. Feng shui meets the Delta Blues meets Fight Club. If this is your first time on fishingpoet, you have to fish.

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My bookshelves pretty much embody my life. They are a wildly eclectic timeline of decades spent running around the world–some with an actual purpose. Medals, photos and training manuals from my time in Service. A knot of black walnut from Island 69 in the Mississippi River, not far from Clarksdale. An ace of diamonds I found under a car tire in Ruleville, Mississippi, where Robert Johnson supposedly died after one of his riders (who was also another man’s wife) poisoned him. Hand scrawled roadtrip maps and AAA map-books on dozens of roadtrip states. So many journals. Fly boxes, reels, line and tying materials. Pictures of the kids, the arc of their full-speed childhood growing in stop-motion. Poetry broadsides. Fest mugs from my time stationed in Germany. Old collections of Field & Stream, Poets & Writers, Living Blues, Life, Lacrosse and Gray’s Sporting Journal. New collections of Gray’s, Fly Fishing Journal and The Drake. Every rejection letter I’ve ever received in response to writing I’ve submitted for publication. Advertising awards. A couple field-found fox and deer skulls. Virginia brook trout plates from my old truck…

Oh yea…then there’s the books.

The gamut runs from cheap, dog-eared paperbacks to signed hard-cover first editions with their dust-jackets. They’ve joined the fracas as Christmas, birthday and attaboy presents, from cramped one-room used book stores, garage and estate sales, the premium-priced shelves of college book stores in NY, VA and TX, trash-day boxes on the side of the road and from the interweb. Walt, Bukowski, Frost and Tupac. Lord of the Rings, Nick Adams, Clockwork Orange and A River Runs Through it. Calvin and Hobbes, Batman, Superman and Outland (*ack*cough*). Walden, A Sand County Almanac, Trout Bum and Stories of the Old Duck Hunters Club. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, Contemporary American Poetry, The Magical Realist Fiction Anthology and Modern Genetics.

They were once in alphabetical order and organized by genre–poetry here, fiction here, non-fiction here, text-books here. But they have lived with each other in sin for long enough now that I fear even a weekend locked in my office with beer and my OCD would probably not cut it.

But that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Life is blessedly messy. It’s a mashup of the valuable and the worthless, the gaudy and the precious, the good the bad and the ugly. It’s as much about frozen guides, blown out rivers, flies and fish gone, gone, gone in the thick brush on the other side of the pool, as it is the hook-up, god-I-promise-I’ll-be-a-better-man-if-you-let-me-land-this-toad prayer and glorious photo op.

There’s no straight line. No gimme’s. We’ve all got flaws and faults and make mistakes. At best, we gather it all into our arms and keep on toward the always-open horizon. At worst, we gather it all in our arms and keep on toward the always-open horizon. The fact is, we’re all learning as we go along. If somebody tells you they’ve got it figured out – they’re full of shit…and probably couldn’t find their ass with a GPS.

In the 9 months since I went out on my own as a freelance writer, I’ve had plenty of time to contemplate my bookshelves – my life. I’ve come to the realization that I don’t read near enough–I don’t take near enough time to step back from my flaws and faults and mistakes, pick my head up and see the field. Life is busy – kids, committees, work, home projects. Excuses are easier and easier to come by. That said, the days are not getting any longer, it’s getting harder to keep my washboard abs, and my kids are not getting any smaller.

I made the jump because I realized that I needed to be more deliberate about life, and the past 9 months have been a pretty good start toward that wide-open horizon. The view from my bookshelves just keeps getting better. Even if they are a mess.

 

 

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Filed under Making a living, On the water, Poetry, The road

GETTING AFTER IT

It’s been a busy summer for house-projects, travel and work. Four months have already passed since I made the jump from the agency world to freelance-dome and it feels like it’s been years…in a good way.

Over the next month or so I’ve got a significant amount of writing to do about a few significant trips from this busy summer:
• The IFTD show that I just attended in New Orleans (watch for reports from Cameron over at The Fiberglass Manifesto and Alex at 40 Rivers to Freedom, as well as Midcurrent and Angling Trade).
• My upcoming trip west to fish in Idaho (hell yea!)
• Our week in the Adirondacks (which I’ve already been putting up some poetry from).

So, stay tuned as the busy-ness rolls on.

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Filed under Making a living, On the water, Reviews, The road

MAY ONE. DAY ONE.

Less than a couple weeks.

That’s what I’ve got left of the day job. That’s all that’s left of the twice daily auto-pilot-and-iPod-mix of Route 332, New York State Thruway, I-490 and Route 441 to and from my chair and change-order-covered desk. I gave a months notice over half a month ago and it’s getting good and damn close to my saddle-up moment. I feel that from-the-nuts yee-haw holler — my own declaration of independence — just waiting for me to pull over on a country road that last drive home, get out and startle crows from the trees. If I had a Stetson (and a trusty steed), I’d waive that sonofabitch in the air while I was pulling an equine wheelie.

As near as I can tell I am of sound mind and body, so I’m gettin’ out while the gettin’ is good. I’m leaving because I’ve got shit to do and a finite amount of time to do it in. I’m leaving because my kids will go to bed in pajamas tonight and wake up married and expecting my first grandbaby tomorrow. I’m leaving because I’m an idealist who isn’t afraid of getting punched in the mouth. To taste your own busted, bloody lip is to discover that you’re made of more than you think. I already know I’m made of more. It’s time to knuckle-up.

I’m getting back to what I’m passionate about: writing, my family and the outdoors. The specifics don’t so much matter here. Those are details for other venues and conversations. But I will tell you, life’s too short for vocation and avocation to be mutually exclusive…and too long to lament if they are.

Giddayup.

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Filed under Fatherhood and venison jerkey, Making a living