We Are What We Do

On why we create and how to get there

Hey everyone,

This week’s theme is around the role of the individual in the larger context of society, and how one can come to define themselves.

Also, one writer’s account of overnight success. Just kidding, it’s been over 8 years, and the progress has been quite gradual.

Lastly, I turned 31 this past week. You’d think there might be big epiphanies after all these years of existence. But that’s not the case. At least for me anyway.

The boundary between 30 and 31 came to pass, and nothing perceptible really happened. I was flooded with a sense of sadness upon waking, got caught up in comparisons to a vague sense of where I thought I ought to be, rollicked in joy at all the years I (hopefully) have in front of me, and grappled with day-to-day existence type shit, like where to go for lunch and “I should really respond to that email.”

Opportunities

Salmon River Writing Workshop: The Human Wilderness Experience

Brendan Leonard is one of my favorite outdoor writers as he combines humor, vulnerability, and an adventurous spirit. This workshop offers 6 days on the Salmon River, covering 90 miles and what it takes to craft a compelling story.

What I’m Reading (& Watching)

Murmurations are an aerial ballet

The mysterious flights of the Common Starling are known as a “murmuration” and it is still unknown how the thousands of birds are able to fly in such dense swarms without colliding. This is from the same director as last week’s video.


We’re Here. You Just Don’t See Us.

I am constantly working to figure out how to make you acknowledge me as American, too. I refuse to be seen as poor and powerless, and I attempt to approach each day with a boldness and vulnerability that leaves an imprint on somebody. I continue to penetrate spaces where I’m not expected to be.

What narratives have you been told? How are they shaping your perception of yourself and what is possible?


Climbing Doesn’t Change You

The backlash to one of Kathy’s earlier posts (of which this is a rebuttal piece) is surprising. Since when could you not express the outdoors/ climbing/ your passion in romantic, sentimental language?

Failure gives you depth. It gives you mental tenacity. It shatters the expectations we often feel trapped within, the expectations that our perceptions of ourselves create. Exposing our failures lets us fearlessly show the world that we are human…. Nobody walks up the mountain to the top with a smile on their face the entire time, or without shedding a few tears, a little blood.”

I realized why I had shared it in the first place: to cultivate empathy and understanding not only for myself, but for others who might have had an experience

It was then that choosing vulnerability became an act of courage.


Art Is Commensurate with the Human Spirit

Art has but one principle, one aim, — to produce an impression, a powerful impression, no matter by what means, or if it be by reversing all the canons of taste and criticism.

Why do you create art? What impression are you hoping to make?


Longform Podcast #256: David Gessner

Great interview with an intelligent, open, and self-effacing writer.

The ambition got in my way at first. Because I wanted my stuff to be great, and it froze me up. But later on it was really helpful. I’m startled by the way people don’t, you know, admit [they care] … it seems unlikely people wouldn’t want to be immortal.


19: The True Story of the Yarnell Hill Fire

Simply brilliant writing and reporting.

Claire took the band and rolled it between her fingers and thought, What if someday this is all I have left? 

What if…

The Writing Life

Lessons from Eight Years of Writing an Adventure Blog

Buckle in, this might take awhile:

In my second year of pitching stories, I made $75 from one article. I moved to Denver to work at a small newspaper—but on the side, I kept pitching any outdoor publication I thought might pay. Almost all of them sent me rejections. In late 2006, John Fayhee at the Mountain Gazette liked a story I sent him enough to publish it and pay me $100. In mid-2007, I got a part-time job writing funny 100-word blogs for an outdoors website, at 15 cents a word, two to three blogs per week.

After almost six years of trying, I started getting magazine assignments, starting in early 2011 with a story I’d been pitching and had written for Climbing magazine.




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Out There / In Here, vol. 5

Feature photo source: Outside Magazine

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